There's no way to defend disqualifying a champion high school swimmer over a wedgie

I mean, come on.

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.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
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