Art of Woman

What is Appropriate?

Yesterday I went to K Mart at Belconnen and ordered some photographic prints to be made. I returned after an hour and a half to collect them, as requested, to be told by the assistant that all my photos had been ripped up because some of them were deemed ‘inappropriate’. I was offered a refund, so I went to the service desk to get my refund.

The service desk refused to give me a refund because the shop assistant in the photography section had not notified the service desk of the cancelled order! So I returned to the photography section which was located on the other side of the building. I asked why all of my photos were ripped up. The shop assistant repeated that some of my photos were deemed ‘inappropriate’ and reminded me that I had ticked an agreement on the computer when I placed my order that my photos did not contain anything illegal, pornographic etc. So I asked the shop assistant to see the store’s policy on what constituted ‘inappropriate’ given that none of my photos were pornographic or illegal. He explained that because the store employs children under 18 yrs, some as young as 15, that as a customer, I should be considerate of a young person’s sensitivities. I again asked to see the store policy that required me to be considerate of the potential sensitivities of their staff. He rummaged around for a minute and said that he did not have a copy of the policy. He would get management to print one and give it to me at the service desk along with my refund, which he would now organise.


So I went back to the service desk, asked for, and received my refund.

Then I waited... And waited.... And I waited... for the printed policy document.

The shop assistant at the service desk began to get concerned that I was still waiting.

After more than half an hour’s waiting the manager from the photography section came up to me. He repeated that because K Mart Belconnen employs young staff, they have a policy not to print ‘inappropriate’ photos to protect their young staff. I told him I was waiting to see the store policy on what constituted ‘appropriate’ photography so I would not have this problem in the future. He said that the shop assistant had shown him some of my photos and they contained child nudity and this was considered inappropriate. I was outraged that this man and his assistant accused me of child nude photography!!! All my models are over 18 and have signed model release forms!

My friend, who had patiently accompanied me throughout the exercise, pointed out that my photos have been exhibited publicly in many galleries in Canberra, Sydney and the south coast of NSW. But I did not want to get into a discussion about what constitutes nudity. Instead, I wanted to read their definition of ‘inappropriate’ so I could understand which of my photos could and which wouldn’t be printed at K Mart in Belconnen. So I asked again to see the store policy. The photography manager said that they did not have a copy and could not print one, despite the early advice of the sales assistant.

Then the store manager came. She said that they would have to get a copy of the policy from head office. K Mart Australia’s head office is in Melbourne 800km away! So it was clear that I was not going to be given a copy of the policy to read there and then. I then pointed out that they expected their customers to make decisions about appropriateness without access to the store policy! She replied that they usually had a copy, but at the moment they did not. Could they post or email it to me, she asked?

So I cannot get K Mart Belconnen to print all my photos because I cannot make an informed decision about which ones will be deemed ‘inappropriate’ and which will not. I would like to comply with their policy on appropriateness but I cannot do this until I see the policy and I cannot do this until K Mart head office posts or emails me a copy. How long will that take? In the meantime, no customer is able to comply with the store policy as they cannot access that policy.

The store manager said that a copy of the policy would be emailed to me. 24 hours later I am still waiting. K Mart Belconnen is open 24 hrs a day, but they cannot send an email in 24 hours!