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John Lamb, Published January 10 2012

Lamb: Senior’s head-turner portrait turns off yearbook staff

Senior portraits capture a period in the subject’s life and set it in stone.

Unfortunately for the subject, that period is high school and full of awkward drama.

The most recent example was this week when Sydney Spies, a Durango, Colo., senior, caused a stir for submitting a rather saucy shot to her yearbook that was rejected by the student staff.

The offending image of the young model showed the 18-year-old in a yellow mini-skirt and wrapped in a black shawl.

No, wait. “wrapped” would imply she is covered by the shawl, when it actually only covers her biceps and chest, leaving her shoulders and stomach exposed. So, how about banded, strapped, or even stripped across her chest?

She appears to be starting to walk up some outdoor stairs, against a brick wall, looking over her shoulder doe-eyed as if someone just yelled, “Hooters is hiring!”

“I honestly think (the picture) describes who I am,” Spies told Matt Lauer on the “Today” show Monday morning. “I’m an outgoing person and I really do think it’s artistic.”

“Artistic?” Well, sure, maybe in the way that lads’ mags like Maxim, Stuff and FHM have “art directors” to say, “OK, you look great pouting with that sucker, but just as we spray you with this hose, arch your back like you’re playing Twister and stick out your butt like Catherine Zeta-Jones in the ‘Entrapment’ trailer. Give me something that says, ‘Scoliosexy!’ ”

Yeah, “artistic” in a kind of Hefneriffic or Flintacular way.

Spies submitted another shot, depicting her bending awkwardly, against a brick wall, again, in a skin-tight cocktail dress as if she really had to go to the bathroom. That one was also nixed by the yearbook staff.

Her mother, Miki, initially was against the photos, but has come around.

“Now, looking at the picture, I see it the way Sydney sees it. It’s artistic. It’s stunning,” the mother says.

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A “Today” poll asking “Are one woman’s photos too inappropriate to go in a yearbook?” brought in 233,566 votes, more than any other in the show’s history. While voters overwhelmingly thought the shots were “too inappropriate” (178,676 votes), Spies got more votes of approval (45,152) than Mitt Romney received when he won last week’s Iowa caucus (30,015), prompting all the Republican hopefuls to criticize her as a typical liberal tax-and-spend teen.

But if the picture has generated that much interest, maybe the school should reconsider banning it and instead embrace it.

Put that shot on the cover of its yearbook and the school will sell more copies than ever before – even if it’s not to students and staff.

Or maybe the school could get creative with fundraising by selling the rights of this photo and controversy to MTV to make it a reality show.

Either way, Spies has received invaluable exposure from the images, getting her foot, or butt, in the modeling door.

All of which is proof that a high school education really pays off.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533