Students turned away from spring portraits session

by Aozora Ito, Sports Editor, and Celine Hoang, Social Media Manager 

Tina Ngo (’18) sent away by Cantrell photography. Photo by Calvin Tran.

On Wednesday, Kaeli Dinh (‘18) was told to take off her choker and that she couldn’t apply black eyeshadow or black lipstick, moments before taking her senior picture. Her friends were told to take off their makeup as well.

“This took a lot of effort and it was really fun for us,” said Dinh. “I don’t know why they had to make it such a big deal to take off makeup. I don’t think we were offending anyone. It was just a little thing we put together.”

Several other juniors expressed their frustration with the sudden revisions in dress code policy. Students weren’t informed through email or announcements of any new regulations regarding their appearance.

Matthew Bui (‘18) wore dark eyeshadow and eyeliner with his friends. They were denied from taking a picture by a photographer and were sent to the activities office. According to Bui, the activities staff told them to take off their makeup.

“With regards to my appearance, I do not think that I broke dress code, my appearance did not radically change in any way. All I had was makeup on,” said Bui. “I was never informed that you weren’t allowed to wear or look how you wanted for photos due to the fact that many other seniors were able to take pictures in a style, similar to how I dressed, but on a larger scale than I have done.”

Another student Yenni Giang (‘18) had a similar experience. She decided to match with her friends and wear dark makeup for a memorable spring portrait.

“A friend and I were wearing black lipstick and dark shadow and were waiting in line when a lady came up to us and asked us if we wore black lipstick everyday. I replied with sometimes and she said that she couldn’t believe me unless I was wearing black lipstick in my previous ID photo, my sophomore one. Since I didn’t have my ID photo and I told her I didn’t, she sent us outside to go clean it off or take the photo during registration in the summer,” said Giang.

The school’s official dress code policy states that clothing not display messages related to “drugs, alcohol, weapons, foul language or sexual content.” Furthermore, it explicitly states not to wear items that are “rude, distasteful or denigrating towards any group of people based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion or other protected class.”

But neither heavy makeup, wacky hairstyles nor chokers are prohibited by the dress code.

“Pictures are an expression of self and freedom. So why do they need to put limitations?” said Emilee Mason, who was told to take off her Star Wars Princess Leia buns.

According to Don Langford, the photos taken for the freshmen and sophomores are used in the yearbook. The juniors’ pictures are not used for the yearbook because they take separate senior portraits. Yearbook has no regulation about makeup or accessories.

For juniors, these spring pictures are used only for their following year’s ID card or if they receive Seniors of the Month; they have their own senior portraits for the yearbook. Because they are the only ones who can see their own spring photos, juniors in the past have done unique makeup and wacky hairstyles for fun. This year, however, the regulations are stricter and we’ve witnessed many juniors being asked to take off their Leia buns or remove their makeup. “Do you wear your hair like this on a regular basis?” “No.” “You gotta take it out.”

“The only instructions teachers received were for students to bring ID and order forms, and to follow dress code requirements,” said English teacher Sean Ziebarth. “Besides the dress code, we don’t tell kids what accessories to wear or what makeup to wear any day of the school year, so why are we doing it on picture day? As long as it doesn’t get in the way of identifying the student, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

When we asked the PSS Imaging manager about the dress code policies, she referred us to the Assistant Principal of Activities Josh Lamar.

As of press time Lamar had not responded to our requests for information, but we will update the story as it develops.

This article has 5 Comments

  1. The quote in the article from the teacher Sean Ziebarth sums this up perfectly.
    It would be nice to know who implemented this decision, when they did it, & why.

  2. This is wrong! A photographer has no right to determine student dress. Students denied should have pics shot at a different studio and Cantrell should pay. That solves the pic problem but doesn’t erase the negative experience for kids.
    Lamar and Cantrell photography were very wrong.

  3. I am a parent and I am all for kids expressing themselves thru make up and fashion. It is just a picture. The teacher said it best…as long as the student can be identified, let them be. We want to raise adults, so treat them accordingly.

  4. As a teacher, I have raised concerns with the Activities Office about the behavior of the people screening the picture lines for the past two years (Spring of 2016 and Spring of 2015). Both times I was told that it was going to be looked into and that the photography company would be instructed about the FVHS dress code and what is and isn’t allowed in terms of dress, makeup and jewelry, and what isn’t allowed in school-sponsored pictures. And yet the same problems keep happening, which seems to indicate that the Activities Office isn’t really concerned about student (or teacher) complaints and concerns. That is unfortunate. If I was the parent of one of the students who was forced to change their makeup, or forced to remove an unoffensive piece of jewelry, or change a manner of dress simply because an out-of-touch worker didn’t bother to check on what the school dress code allows, I would be up in the office demanding to speak with school admin and demanding that Activities answer questions about why they are allowing an off-campus organization to enforce unfair, non-school regulations.

  5. I believe that a person finds their identity through his/her clothing. She fabricates who she is as a person by pulling up jeans, buttoning her flannel, curling her satin hair, or painting her lips. It’s important for a person to be able to portray who they are as a person by means of attire. It’s a right.
    It’s ridiculous for the photographers to ask the students if they wear heavy makeup on a daily basis. High school is a criticism time of human development. A person can find their identity at any moment in time and what if they happened to find it today? Then what? They need to be suppressed by photographers and be refuted of their expression? No.

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