A Florida high school photoshopped all traces of cleavage out of girls' yearbook photos

In today's "What century is this again?" news, a high school in St. Johns County, Florida is under the spotlight for its bizarro Photoshop attempt to eliminate all evidence of girls' breast tissue in its yearbook photos.

Dozens of female students at Bartram Trail High School have had their yearbook photos edited to have their cleavage removed, causing an outcry from students and parents. Reporter Ben Ryan of Action News Jax out of Jacksonville investigated the story and shared examples of some before and after photos on Twitter, explaining that the before photos were deemed "inappropriate" by the school.

Students and parents said that at least 60 photos were edited like this—some of them badly—to erase all traces of cleavage from girls' chests. The school confirmed that the number was actually 80, all of them girls. (This is not the first time something like this has happened. A Utah school came under fire for the same thing a few years back.)

We're not talking deep, plunging necklines here. The photos Ryan shared on Twitter show scoop neck shirts and v-neck sweaters that just happen to show a crease where breasts come together at the top as breasts tend to do.


One student, 9th grader Zoe Iannone told Action News Jax that she felt confident that she had looked good and was within the school's dress code when she went to school that day, but that changed when she saw her edited photo. "When I sent it to my mom and all of us saw it, I felt very sexualized, like that was what they were worrying about," she said.

Ninth grader Riley O'Keefe, featured in the above photos, told Action News she had worn the same outfit to school and had been told it was fine. Seeing the edited photo in the yearbook made her feel uncomfortable, and she decided to speak up about it for girls who might not feel comfortable saying something.

"You're not only affecting their photo, it's not just for protecting them, you're making them uncomfortable and feel like their bodies aren't acceptable in a yearbook," she said.

The school sent Ryan this statement:

"Bartram Trail High School's previous procedure was to not include student pictures in the yearbook that they deemed in violation of the student code of conduct, so the digital alterations were a solution to make sure all students were included in the yearbook. At this point the school is offering refunds to any parents calling about this issue. The school is receiving feedback from parents/guardians/students on making this process better for next year."

The school said it offered to refund parents' yearbook money, but the damage was already done. Students and parents told Ryan they understood what the school was trying to do, but that they went too far.

"Our daughters of Bartram deserve an apology," one anonymous mother said. "They are making them feel embarrassed about who they are."

Another mother told First Coast News that her daughter was being bullied after the photo edits made her a target.

Digitally altered yearbook photos angering parents in St. Johns County youtu.be

As of this afternoon, Ryan was unable to get any interviews with or additional responses from the school.

School dress codes have been under fire for some time now, as stories of girls being sent home for wearing outfits most people would not consider immodest have repeatedly gone viral. But these girls were not in violation of the school's dress codes, and photoshopping cleavage out of photos is just strange. Someone is looking for a problem where one doesn't exist, and placing the blame for the fictional problem on the wrong parties.

If someone sees a fold of skin at the top of a shirt in a high school yearbook and starts thinking dirty thoughts, that's on the viewer, 100 percent. There may be some people who think zero cleavage should ever be seen anywhere, but that's neither realistic or reasonabled. Unless you're wearing a turtleneck, cleavage happens with most fashionable clothing. And it happens more for some girls than others. Cleavage is literally just skin and tissue being pressed together—no one is showing actual cuppage or nipples or anything of the sort in these photos.

All this kind of policing does is make girls feel weird about their bodies and ashamed of the way their breasts come together at the top. It's unnecessary, controlling nonsense and it needs to stop. People can rightfully debate where a line should be drawn when it comes to appropriate yearbook photo attire, but a little bit of cleavage definitely should not be that line.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Straeb of the Sarasota Heart Gallery.

In a newspaper portrait from last May, Becca Eldredge flashes a delighted smile as she stands beside her husband and son and their newly-adopted 13-year-old daughter outside their Florida home. The teen girl a floral dress and a tiara and holds a small marquee that reads After 1,783 days in foster care, today I was adopted.

"There are so many children who need a home and love," Eldredge says. "My daughter has brought so much joy and fun into our house."

Over 400,000 children across the U.S. currently live in foster care, due in large part to the country's opioid crisis. More than 120,000 of these kids have been permanently relinquished by birth parents; they often wait years for adoptive families and a stable home. Many age out of the system without either, leaving them vulnerable to poverty, homelessness, and substance abuse. But Familyfinder--a new Florida-based digital program relying on targeted advertising--may change all that.


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Photo courtesy of Matthew Straeb of the Sarasota Heart Gallery.

In a newspaper portrait from last May, Becca Eldredge flashes a delighted smile as she stands beside her husband and son and their newly-adopted 13-year-old daughter outside their Florida home. The teen girl a floral dress and a tiara and holds a small marquee that reads After 1,783 days in foster care, today I was adopted.

"There are so many children who need a home and love," Eldredge says. "My daughter has brought so much joy and fun into our house."

Over 400,000 children across the U.S. currently live in foster care, due in large part to the country's opioid crisis. More than 120,000 of these kids have been permanently relinquished by birth parents; they often wait years for adoptive families and a stable home. Many age out of the system without either, leaving them vulnerable to poverty, homelessness, and substance abuse. But Familyfinder--a new Florida-based digital program relying on targeted advertising--may change all that.


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Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."