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Culture

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

I mean, come on.

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.

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