Teen swimmer disqualified by referee after she suffered a wedgie has been reinstated: 'I could see butt cheek touching butt cheek'
17-year-old Breckynn Willis was disqualified because the bottom of her suit 'so far up' that the referee 'could see butt cheek touching butt cheek'
A teenage Alaska girl drew national attention after she was denied a victory last week after being disqualified for a "uniform violation," with some claiming there was a racial motivation behind the decision.
Breckynn Willis, 17, from Dimond High School in Anchorage, was disqualified from the race by the head referee, who claimed she disqualified the girl because the bottom of her suit "was so far up I could see butt cheek touching butt cheek," according to Anchorage Daily News.
It was an odd decision considering Willis had participated in three other races the same day but was not disqualified from any of the others. Before that, she had competed in 10 more races without a problem.
Annette Rohde, who was working as an official at the swim meet, said she "froze in disbelief" when she saw that Willis had been disqualified and questioned the referee about her decision. "I told her, 'I need to know how you’re defining this because this is going to blow up,'" she revealed.
The National Federation of High Schools' rule about the dress code states that boys must cover their buttocks and girls must cover their buttocks and breasts. To ensure everyone was up to code, Dimond High had purchased the approved suits for all its swimmers.
In an initial statement addressing the contentious incident, the Anchorage School District confirmed Willis was "wearing the approved, school-issued suit during the race" and that the decision "appears to stem from a difference of opinion in the interpretation of the rules governing high school swim uniforms."
Lauren Langford, a swimming coach at the West High School in Anchorage, slammed the referee's decision in a Medium post titled 'Alaska’s Swimsuit Scandal Unfairly Polices Young Girls’ Bodies' and said Willis was targeted "for the way the suit fit her curvier, fuller-figured body."
"These young swimmers aren’t being punished for wearing their suits in scandalous or provocative ways, but rather, because their ample hips, full chests, and dark complexions look different than their willowy, thin, and mostly pallid teammates," she wrote.
"Some will argue this scandal has nothing to do with race. But the issue becomes glaring when officials are overheard acknowledging that white athletes are baring too much skin as well, yet they’ve never been disqualified for a similar violation."
She said there have been "more than a year of tensions over the fit of suits worn by athletes at youth swim meets" in Alaska and that it is "nothing short of racism, sexism, body-shaming, and child abuse."
Following the outrage, the school district announced on September 10 that the referee's decision was "heavy-handed and unnecessary" and overturned the disqualification.
They said the decision to single out Willis was "based solely on how a standard, school-issued uniform happened to fit the shape of her body" and that they "cannot tolerate discrimination of any kind, and certainly not based on body shape."