“But no, no, no, Bone emphasized Friday, the school did not ask for or authorize any kind of retouching of the photos. It was an admitted mistake on the part of the photo company, she said, adding that the school actually dissuades its students from wearing too much makeup.
‘We don’t agree with any of that,’ she said of the retouching. ‘Of course, we were very angry.’”
And then I read this post. This is from Hello Giggles, a blog founded by actress Zooey Deschanel. Usually, I applaud Deschanel and Hello Giggles for their particular brand of feminism. But in this case, I am extremely upset. The post makes it sound like STA itself made the choice to have the photos edited. According to the Star article, it did not. The Hello Giggles article says at one point:
“This is a high school, you guys. HIGH SCHOOL. Face smoothing I can understand, but skin and lip recoloring? Eyebrow reshaping? FACE THINNING? By grossly editing a young woman’s photo to make her appear thinner than she is, her school is telling her that her original photo was not good enough, not beautiful enough as is. And that message is TERRIBLE. Why is a high school perpetuating idealistic (and unrealistic) beauty standards that are damaging to young men and women? Why are they upholding the idea that beauty is strictly synonymous with a svelte face?”
The writer of this post clearly makes it sound like she is calling out STA for the photos. By the way, the section of the website where this post was published is entitled “I’m Calling You Out.” I’m mostly outraged by the idea that “her school is telling her that her original photo was not good enough, not beautiful as is.” Actually, I’m pissed off by this idea.
I graduated from STA in 2009, which was, admittedly, five and a half years ago, and maybe things have changed, but I do know some things for certain, and St. Teresa’s Academy is not a school that has a history of making its students think their worth as women should be based on their appearance. I never wore makeup to school in high school. Most of my fellow students didn’t either. I rolled out of bed 15 minutes before I had to leave for school in the morning, pulled on my plaid skirt, polo and sweater, pulled my (probably) unwashed hair into a ponytail, ate a bowl of cereal, finished my Latin homework and threw my stuff in the car and went to school. My school encouraged that. Maybe not the finishing my Latin homework in a hurry every morning, but academics always came first for us. I learned how to be a feminist in high school. Our teachers taught us how to be strong women. Our school taught us our worth came from our talents, abilities and successes, not our yearbook photos.
The photoshopping of the ID pictures is wrong, yes. But (from what I can tell), it is not the school’s fault, nor was it their intention. If it turns out I am wrong, expect another, even angrier blog post.
That school is where I became the well-informed feminist that I am today. I wish the people who all seem to be so angry at STA over this photo issue would realize the blame does not lie with the school. STA is the reason its own students are indignant about this incident. The school taught these young women to think for themselves, and to be proud of who they are, and to be rightfully upset at what the photography studio did. I am proud of my high school for continuing to educate young women in a society that too often makes it seem like women are not worth educating, only worth looking at. I am angry at media outlets who are placing blame on the school, when they should be applauding its students.