In the photo, Sydney Spies is wearing a sheer yellow skirt and a black scarf that exposes her shoulders and midriff.
“This photo represents who I am. I want to be a model. I’m a dancer, and I feel like administration isn’t allowing me to show that."
A second photo Spies submitted for the yearbook, in a sheer black dress, also was denied by student editors, who worried the racy photos were unprofessional.
During a sit-down interview with “Today Show” anchor Matt Lauer, Spies, seated with her mother, Miki Spies, accused the editors of changing their position under pressure from the administration.
Administrators and the yearbook adviser have denied influencing the students’ decision.
Spies told Lauer she is still holding out hope the yearbook staff will reverse its decision and let her use the picture, which she called “artistic.”
Miki Spies told Lauer she initially had reservations about submitting the photo.
“I asked her not to do it,” she said. “I said, ‘Sydney, really, is this the one you want?’”
But she said she came to accept the decision.
“When your child is spreading her wings, you just want to come alongside and support them. That’s what I’m doing as a mother,” she told Lauer.
Sydney Spies said she has been told the photo can still appear, but as a paid “senior advertisement,” which appear at the end of the yearbook.
A poll on the “Today Show” website asked viewers if they thought the photo was “too inappropriate” to go in the a yearbook. Seventy-seven percent, or 134,318 votes, indicted “yes” as of Monday evening.
Benjamin Martinez, associate photographer and general manager of Thru the Lens Fine Portraits, photographed Spies’ now-famous photo and said the shoot included both traditional senior portraits and modeling portfolio pictures.
“We took some regular photos during the shoot that she could have chosen for the yearbook just as well as any of the images (that) they purchased from the session,” Martinez said.
The Spieses’ purchased the copyright release to the images from the photo shoot, leaving Thru the Lens unable to dictate what a customer does with the photos.
“If I knew at the time that she was planning on using that particular photo, I probably would have voiced my opinion that another one might have been better,” Martinez said.
Elizabeth Samuell, owner of Thru the Lens Fine Portraits, is the mother of Erin Edblom, a student editor of the yearbook staff who voted against including Spies’ submitted photos, Martinez confirmed.