Nundah’s Mary MacKillop College in Brisbane has found itself making headlines yet again this week, this time for photoshopping a student’s cleavage in school photos.
Olivia Aloisi graduated from the Queensland Catholic school in North Brisbane in 2021. After her formal, she was shocked to find her body had been edited in one the school’s official pictures — specifically her chest.
“We were looking at the images in class and one of the girls came up to me and said ‘Liv, do you see something different in these two photos?” Olivia told the Courier Mail.
“Basically they had photoshopped my cleavage so there was a normal photo and then a second photo where my boobs had been pushed together.”
When she approached the principal, Olivia was told her boobs were edited to make them more appropriate for “marketing” purposes.
“I went to talk to the vice principal at the time and said ‘that’s just not okay’ and she basically said ‘well you’re standing front row and you’re in a low plunge dress — it’s just not appropriate if we want to use that photo as marketing material for the school’,” she said.
Where do we even begin with unpacking that? For starters, let’s consider the implications here. Olivia was essentially told that her body, existing in the way that it does, is “inappropriate” for the public to see.
Because a teenage girl having boobs isn’t normal? Or is it just specially the way her boobs sit? The school didn’t edit her cleavage out entirely — it just tweaked the image so she looked like she was wearing a push-up bra. I know that would have made me incredibly insecure about the perkiness of my boobs when I was a teenager.
Olivia said she was “embarrassed” by the incident because it wasn’t even a close friend who noticed the edit.
“I felt like someone from the school should have spoken to me before releasing the photoshopped and unedited photo to the entire grade — everyone could tell but at least there would have been some sort of warning,” Olivia said.
“I remember saying to the vice principal ‘you’re lucky I saw that on a good day’ because if I was not doing well or had problems with my body that could have been a full meltdown.”
This is actually the second time Mary MacKillop College has been criticised by young women in the last week.
The Courier Mail previously reported the school issued an email to parents informing them students had to have their formal dresses “approved” before the event. They were expected to upload a picture of their outfit into a Word document for inspection.
Students and parents were also given a formal booklet with a dress code on what types of formal dresses were appropriate. The guide stated “no plunging necklines or low backs below the waist”.
One student from Mary MacKillop College told the publication that many girls had their dresses rejected.
“I’m sure many girls have an opinion on the way the school deals with dress codes, we get it thrown in our face that we will ‘make the male teachers uncomfortable’,” she said.
“We had the same conversation for our Grade 11 semi formal — they’re legitimately sexualising 14 to 17-year-olds.”
Olivia graduated a year before the students who had to deal with this dress code. But when she approached the school about the cleavage editing, she said was also told her dress should have gone through an approval process.
“The principal and vice principal changed in year 11 so by the time [the] formal was only a couple of weeks away we had just been told about the formal booklet — it was very much based on how a girl looked in a dress,” she said.
Despite the allegations, the college told Courier Mail “there was no process in place to approve dresses”.