There is an interesting controversy out of Wasatch County, Utah where students were surprised when they received their yearbooks and found themselves wearing outfits that they never saw before. The Wasatch High School had altered photos of girls who had too much skin showing, though what was viewed as inappropriate by the local school officials is rather surprising.
Students say that there was no rhyme or reason to the alteration and that half of the girls with tank tops were edited while half were left alone. This includes two girls with identical tops. One was covered up and one was not.
The school however insisted that the girls were warned that outfits deemed inappropriate were subject to editing.
Terry E. Shoemaker, superintendent of schools for the Wasatch County School District, was defiant in the face of claims of arbitrary and conflicting censorship: “We only apologize in the sense that we want to be more consistent with what we’re trying to do in that sense we can help kids better prepare for their future by knowing how to dress appropriately for things.”
Dress codes have always intrigued me in schools and courts. We previously discussed how female lawyers are treated differently from male lawyers in dress codes. I often appear with women wearing open shirts or sweaters where the same choice by male lawyers would result in an expulsion or sanction. When it comes to students, a male wearing the equivalent to a tank top would likely be barred. It is an interesting cultural distinction.
The school’s position is that it is merely trying to teach proper decorum and dress rules. Others have pointed out that this is a deeply religious area. In either case, it appears to have been enforced rather arbitrarily and the question is whether schools should actively encourage (rather than actively enforce) such standards.
By the way, they might want to check out the pictures of a few of the Administrators and teachers for the next round of airbrushing (here and here). Indeed, in covering up shoulders of students, school officials might want to address another misguided female in Washington who appears not to have received the Wasatch School memo on proper dress for official photos: