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There's no way to defend disqualifying a champion high school swimmer over a wedgie
Photo by Marcus Ng on Unsplash

I almost couldn't believe this story when I read it this morning. Almost. But when it comes to women's bodies and puritanical pearl-clutching, there's not much that surprises me anymore.

Here's a very brief synopsis of the story as reported in the Washington Post:

A high school swimming champion in Alaska exited the pool after beating her competitors, but instead of being awarded her hard-earned first prize, she was disqualified. Why? Because her swimsuit was riding too far up her butt.

Yes, seriously.


A referee at the swim meet saw more cheek than she could handle, apparently. Nevermind that the girl being disqualified for her swimwear was wearing the same school-issued suit as her teammates. Nevermind that women's bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that some of our derrieres try to devour our clothing every time we move. Nevermind the fact that Speedos contour to every curve of a dude's penis and testicles and no one ever complains.

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As a wide-hipped woman, I take this personally. It took me years—years—to find a brand of underwear that didn't ride up my rear every time I walked. I'm super frugal by nature, but I buy ridiculously expensive panties with thin rubber lines on the cheeks because they're the only ones I've ever found that don't give me a wedgie. (Sorry, TMI but true.)

If I were to swim the length of a swimming pool in any swimsuit that wasn't shorts, you'd be seeing some serious cheek action when I got out. Might as well be wearing a thong. Can't keep my bum covered unless I'm standing perfectly still. That's what wide hips and a big butt do to a girl. C'est la vie.

To disqualify a swimmer because her swimsuit rode up and she didn't immediately fix it upon exiting the water? That's ridiculous. There's just so much wrong with it:

1) Let's just stop sexualizing young female athletes, shall we? Can we all agree to try that for a while?

2) The first thought a swimmer who has just kicked butt in competition should have after exiting the water is, "Yes, I kicked butt!" not "What does my butt look like right now?"

3) If the school issued the suit, and the suit was found to meet the requirements for competition beforehand, the way the suit behaves on a woman's body while she's doing her sport should not disqualify her. Why does this need to be said?

4) Apparently, this swimmer was the only mixed race girl in the competition, and has a "curvier" build than most. Women with African ancestry often have curvier bottoms, and to penalize a woman for that can easily be seen as racism.

5) IT WAS A FLIPPIN' WEDGIE. Wedgies happen. Get over it.

If seeing some cheek really is an issue, why don't they require female swimmers to wear suits that go down onto the thighs like most men wear in the Olympics? Or—and I'm just spitballing here—WHY DON'T WE STOP POLICING WOMEN'S BODIES ALTOGETHER?

RELATED: It's time to stop policing women's clothing and start raising our expectations of men.

The Anchorage School District has issued a statement explaining that the referee's decision is currently being reviewed. According to the statement, the swimmer's coach tried to contest the referee's ruling at the meet and was it was denied.

Honest to goodness, if they don't un-disqualify that girl, someone needs to organize a Freddy Mercury-style fat-bottomed-girls-on-bicycles protest. We don't deserve to be disqualified over wedgies we can't help.

Update: Upon appeal of the referees's ruling, the Alaska School Activities Association has reversed the disqualification and reinstated the swimmer's win in the meet. Good—but still crappy that it happened in the first place.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


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Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

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