Utah's Wasatch High School, Guilty of Yearbook Photoshop Gaffe, Messes Things Up Again

Remember Wasatch High School in Utah, which recently made waves for Photoshopping the yearbook photos of senior girls so that their outfits provided more coverage? It was enough of an outrage for us to write about it here on Bustle not once, but twice — and now we’re writing about them again, because apparently these modesty standards don’t apply for the boys.

Although the school in Herber City, UT has since apologized for their yearbook Photoshop gaffe (not that an apology really makes it any better, but hey, at least they said something), they’re under fire again for a series of images from last year’s yearbook — images that indicate that the school’s dress code is only enforced for certain people and in certain situations. On a page titled “Wasatch Stud Life,” a whole bunch of teenage boys are shown shirtless, striking stereotypical “thug” poses, showing off their boxers and tattoos. This wouldn’t be a problem, were it not for what we know about how that same high school treats its girls. Please explain to me why the boys are allowed to run around shirtless and in their underwear, while the girls aren’t even allowed to be seen wearing tank tops. No, really, go right ahead. I would love to hear the reasoning behind this incredibly obvious case of hypocrisy.

Speaking to the Salt Lake Tribune, Holly Mullen, executive director of the Rape Recovery Center in Salt Lake City, noted that the celebration of boys as “studs” while the girls’ bodies are digitally covered up indicates a much larger cultural problem. “It speaks to allowing young men to dress and act as they choose and yet young women have to be kept in order,” she said. It’s a dynamic that often plays out in sexual violence, and seeing it here — and okayed by the school, nonetheless — could spell disaster later in life. “It’s a crime of control and taking away someone else’s control and autonomy,” Mullen said. “It sets them [men and women] up for that down the line.” I mean, the very fact that the page is about “stud life” is a problem: It enforces that age-old double standard that men are studs, but women are sluts. Is that really a lesson you want to be teaching teens? I didn’t think so.

I think Rebecca Rose over at Jezebel put it best:

Let me be absolutely clear about this, lest there be any confusion — there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a dress code or setting a standard for professional attire. The issue is when that standard is solely built around the idea that women are the ones who must be responsible for covering themselves because they create a problem for the men who see them. When you operate as an institution where a few inches of chest on a young girl are so problematic they must be covered up, but teenage boys are allowed to boast about ‘stud life’ and show off their exposed chests, tattoos, and underwear, that’s prove that you aren’t concerned about the professional appearance of your students.

Yes. This. So much this.

I keep wondering when we’re finally going to get to the point where things like this aren’t a problem anymore, but the fact that we keep hearing about it doesn’t give me hope. Maybe all we can do in the meantime is keep talking about it and keep pointing out what’s wrong with it — if we speak loudly enough and often enough, hopefully one day the world will not only hear us, but actually listen to us, too.

Image: WSH Yearbook