After winning at a swim meet, a high school swimmer in Alaska was disqualified over a "wardrobe violation" for showing too much skin — even though she wore the same swimsuit as every other girl on the team, and had done so at previous competitions, CBS affiliate KTVA-TV reports. After a local youth coach voiced outrage about the ruling in a blog post — raising allegations of "racism, sexism, [and] body shaming" — the Anchorage School District (ASD) said Monday that it would review the controversial disqualification.
Coach Lauren Langford wrote that the student from Dimond High School was wearing a school-approved uniform issued to every girl on the team, yet she was the only athlete disqualified. "If the suit was issued by her team in accordance with national standards and she was wearing it as directed without prohibited modifications then why was she disqualified?" she wrote.
Langford believes race was a factor in the disparate treatment the teen and her two sisters, who are also on team, have received. "This young lady and her sisters are being targeted not for the way they wear their suits but for the way those suits fit their curvier, fuller figured bodies," the coach wrote. "It is only these girls with their darker skin and unique bodies who have been targeted."
Langford told the Anchorage Daily News that the sisters are of mixed-race and described them as "curvy." The suit is sized with the goal of fitting snugly for racing by the manufacturer, her blog post said.
Langford explained that after the race, the teen had a "suit wedgie," with the rear of the swimsuit riding up and exposing more of her backside –– a subject of controversy among sport and school officials.
Langford also accused a "handful of zealous volunteer officials and parents" of a "vendetta" for focusing on the issue. "What has been carried out on pool decks in Alaska in the last year is nothing short of racism, sexism, body shaming, and child abuse," she wrote.
The swim meet at Dimond High School on Friday was not the first of the season, according to the Anchorage School District. There were three other meets in which the team did not receive any disqualifications related to the dress code.
The district said it is reviewing the decision to disqualify the swimmer. In a statement, the district admitted the "disqualified athlete was wearing the approved, school-issued suit during the race." It said the disqualification apparently happened after a "difference of opinion in the interpretation of the rules governing high school swim uniforms."
The school district also noted that referees and officials are expected to conduct themselves a in respectful manner toward every student athlete regardless of their gender, body shape, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin or disability.
"ASD will not tolerate actions by its coaches, students, staff, or community members that discriminate, target, or otherwise create an unsafe or inequitable environment for its student athletes," the district warned.
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