Yearbook photos altered to cover bare skin, tattoos Shelby Baum points to her tattoo that was blocked from her yearbook photo
Yearbook photos altered to cover bare skin, tattoos
Lexile

Some Utah high school students who cracked their yearbooks to find sleeves digitally added to their tank tops and a tattoo erased say school officials have apologized to them.

Wasatch High School administrators in recent days offered at least one student the chance to return her yearbook and get back her $50.

But sophomore Shelby Baum opted to keep the memento.

"I was a little surprised, but for the most part I knew, if it was real or not, I would get an apology," she said Monday evening. "I'm over the whole thing. There's not much that I can do about it now."

Last week, Baum discovered her collarbone tattoo reading "I am enough the way I am" was lifted from her yearbook photo. She also found a high, square neckline drawn onto her black V-neck T-shirt.

Half a dozen other girls noticed camisoles or sleeves added to their pictures.

District officials declined to comment Tuesday, pointing to their statement last week acknowledging error in doctoring pictures of some students but not others who were similarly dressed.

Wasatch High School is in Heber City, about 40 miles from Salt Lake City. It has an enrollment of about 1,700.

Baum earlier said she planned to ask for a refund or a new yearbook with an unaltered photo, but she changed her mind at her mother's urging.

At the very least, said Baum's mother, Bobbi Westergard, the doctored photos can remind the girls they spoke out against a policy that singled out some students.

Baum said she and her mother met with a vice principal who told them he didn't want Baum to feel unwelcome at the school.

The district's statement pointed out that yearbook staffers warned students that clothing violating the school dress code, which adheres to modesty, might undergo digital touchups.

"The high school yearbook staff did make some errors and were not consistent in how they were applied to student photos," it reads, "and the school apologizes for that inconsistency."

Other students say they have not received an apology but are eager to move past the ordeal and on with summer vacation, which began Friday.

Sophomore Rachel Russell, 16, said she received a phone call from the school's principal, who explained he was sorry for the ordeal.

"I'm still kind of ticked that it happened," she said Tuesday, adding she is turning her attention this week to a planned summer road trip with her sister and grandmother.

Sophomores Haylee Nielsen and Kimberly Montoya said they did not hear from officials, aside from a school-wide email acknowledging the alterations.

Baum's mother said her daughter has had to endure comments on online news stories from people wondering what kind of 16-year-old would have a tattoo.

"I think a lot of people are missing the point," Westergard said, characterizing her daughter as a dedicated, responsible student.

The teens said their biggest concern is preventing such edits in future years.

"I'm glad we were able to speak out about it," Montoya said.

The students conveyed that there are more important things to worry about "than a girl showing her shoulders," she said.

Critical thinking challenge: Explain the irony of Shelbys tattoo which reads I am enough the way I am and the fact that the school covered it up.

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COMMENTS (64)
  • JULIAC-ZDE
    6/04/2014 - 12:16 p.m.

    It was wrong for the school to alter these students' yearbook photos without permission from the students. If they weren't showing any body parts, then the school should have left the photo as is. Although they apologized to some students and offered a refund, they should have taken it one step further and offered a new yearbook with the original photo.

  • ALENAK-ZDE
    6/04/2014 - 12:18 p.m.

    The school should have bigger problems to worry about, they shouldn't be worried about a young girl showing her shoulders. Students use their clothing and tattoos as a form of self expression. This school shouldn't have covered up the tattoos of the students, or covered up their shoulders with virtual sleeves. The school should be focused more on education, it should be their number one priority.

  • 8elliee
    6/04/2014 - 12:33 p.m.

    It is very ironic. The school covered up her tattoo because they thought it would be more presentable if she wasn't showing her shoulders and her tattoo. Its not "appropriate". They are trying to "fix" her in this photo. But, her tattoo says "I'm enough the way I am", implying that she doesn't need this fixing.

  • KALIANAM-ZDE
    6/04/2014 - 02:23 p.m.

    The school yearbook editing team had not a single right to remove Shelby's tattoo. Removing someone's tattoo is just the same as removing someone's birthmark or scar, unless asked to. It is who they are and they wouldn't put it there if they didn't want it there. Shelby was dressed modestly and following the dress code. Although tattoos are seen as unprofessional for some and are not well liked, she still had every right to bare her tattoo.

  • MAREENAR-ZDE
    6/04/2014 - 03:42 p.m.

    The fact that the message on the tattoo said "I an enough the way I. am" , and that they changed it i find to be very funny.

  • JACKELINEC-ZDE
    6/04/2014 - 06:19 p.m.

    It is a good idea to digitally add sleeves in photos where the student isn't following the dress code, but it isn't right if they do it to students that are in compliance. There is irony in Shelby's tattoo which was covered up because it says "I am enough the way I am". Digitally editing her photo was as if they were trying to say she isn't good enough because she could be dressed differently. The important thing is that the school is apologizing to the students who didn't deserve to get a digitally modified photo.

  • TJL-ZDE
    6/04/2014 - 06:59 p.m.

    I don't think this is fair. I feel that if a person gets that on there body it is there choice. I feel they want that picture in the yearbook and if u take it out it is not fair.

  • CHRISTOPHERQ-ZDE
    6/04/2014 - 08:54 p.m.

    Well, this was a rather odd topic. They did violate certain restrictions that were given by the school. The school has the right to cover those photos up and it's a terrible thing for the person but, they did agree to these restrictions and so it's not completely unfair that their photo was edited.

  • ROBERTS-ZDE
    6/04/2014 - 09:02 p.m.

    It seems like a regular mistake. Ot doesnt seem like much of a big deal. But i dont think the photos should have been tampered with. People go to school everyday knowing what they are wearing and what others can or may see, so they came to school wanting kids to see their tattoos or arms.

  • NIKKIS-ZDE
    6/04/2014 - 09:53 p.m.

    The school should have made it more knowable that clothing violating the dress code would be digitally edited and changed to fit the policy. however i do not believe they should have edited her tattoo out. its very unlikely that they have a rule about tattoos and how they cant be visible in school photographs.

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