The Anchorage School District has overturned the disqualification of a 17-year-old female swimmer from a race over what has been coined a “suit wedgie.”
At issue is the fit of the mixed-race student’s school-issued swimsuit that had ridden up in the back, exposing too much of her buttocks.
Breckynn Willis, a student at Dimond High School who has won multiple state championships, was disqualified by a referee after winning a 100 freestyle race at a meet Friday, according to Yahoo Sports.
Willis has been described as “fuller-figured” and having “rounder, curvier features.”
“Following our review of the September 6 disqualification of a Dimond High School swimmer, to include interviews of multiple witnesses, the Anchorage School District has concluded that our swimmer was targeted based solely on how a standard, school-issued uniform happened to fit the shape of her body,” the district said in a statement. “We cannot tolerate discrimination of any kind, and certainly not based on body shape. This disqualification was heavy-handed and unnecessary.”
Adding to the problem is that the school had participated in three other meets without any problems with swimsuits.
“The disqualified athlete was wearing the approved, school-issued suit during the race,” the district said. “In the first three meets this year, the Diamond swim team has had no disqualifications related to the wear of the swim uniform.”
Lauren Langford, a coach at another local high school, was the person who called it a “suit wedgie,” and she told the Washington Post that she believes racism and sexism may have been a factor.
“All of these girls are all wearing suits that are cut the same way,” Langford said. “And the only girl who gets disqualified is a mixed-race girl with rounder, curvier features.”
The coach was adamant that no swimmer would purposely wear their suit like that, as other parents have suggested.
“We have a term for it — it’s called a suit wedgie,” she said. “And wedgies happen. It’s uncomfortable. No one’s going to walk around that way intentionally.”
The same referee had reportedly embarrassed Willis’ sister by similarly criticizing the fit of her team-issued suit last year.
“She and her sister were the only athletes to receive attention as to the fit of their suits, and our assessment was that decision by the volunteer judge was discriminatory,” said Anchorage School District Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop.
The school district is reportedly looking to revoke the certification of the referee and to exclude the official from future events.
In addition, the National Federation of State High School Associations’ suit coverage rule applied in the incident may be suspended and revised.
The swimmer drew support from some heavy hitters, liberal tennis legend Billy Jean King, who tweeted: “The constant policing of women’s bodies is offensive, sexist, and wrong. This must end.”
One of Alaska’s top swimmers who had just won her race was disqualified by a ref because of how her school-issued swimsuit fit her body. The constant policing of women’s bodies is offensive, sexist, and wrong. This must end. https://t.co/DwzvOSiqLz
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) September 10, 2019
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