The Real Scandals of Buttcheek-Gate: Body-Shaming, Racism, Sexism

Opinion & News ID - Curvicality Plus Size Magazine
We are glad to hear that a high school swimmer in Alaska who was disqualified from a match she won because the referee thought she was showing too much skin (while she was wearing the school-issued swim team uniform) had her victory restored to her. We hope that will be the end of Buttcheek-Gate, which smacked of sexism, racism and body-shaming. 

The girl’s swim coach, Lauren Langford, wrote in a post on Medium that “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.”


Buttcheek-gate: Swim suit wedgies or over exposure? - Curvicality Magazine
Buttcheek-gate: Swim suit wedgies or over exposure?

The incident occurred at an Alaska high school swim meet on Sept. 6, but apparently Buttcheek-gate has been an issue there for a while. Langford says one parent took photographs of the girl’s backside without her knowledge or permission and circulated them via email, claiming the girl’s suit is “immoral.” Again, this is the school-issued swim team uniform. We aren’t troubled by the morals of the girl. We are, however, quite troubled by the morals of anyone who would photograph a teen’s buttocks and email the pictures to others. 

The girl is of mixed race and is described as having a curvy figure, with a small waist but full buttocks and bust. Since she was stripped of her victory, there have been charges of body-shaming, racism and sexism.

We say, let she who has never developed a wedgie while swimming throw the first water balloon.

Particularly if you’re curvy (be it because of your weight or your figure type or both), swimsuits do shift around. It’s a problem for many of us just goofing around in the pool. We can only imagine the issue is amplified when you’re a serious, talented athlete swimming competitively, as is this girl.

We are pretty sure swimsuits aren’t any more likely to slip around over dark skin than light skin, yet Langford notes that the girl and her sister, who are of mixed race, are the only ones penalized and criticized. None of the white girls, wearing the same swimsuit uniform, has been publicly called out.

We’re also troubled by the notion of people staring at these teens’ bodies, checking for an extra flash of tush. Swimwear is inherently revealing. Of course, we could follow the example of repressive societies and require that females cover their bodies to avoid inadvertently causing a male reaction. We could always go back to the Victorian bathing costumes that covered our great-great-grandmothers’ knees. Would that make everyone happy?

As Langford says: “One young lady expressed at a meet last season that she felt she needed to go on a restrictive diet and put in more time at the gym so her backside would be smaller and therefore more appropriate by the standards of what is being called the modesty rule …. We cannot allow our organization to become one that engages in body shaming when it has long had the reputation of celebrating all shapes and sizes while showing young people to love the skin they’re in and promoting positive, healthy body image for each participant.” We could not agree more.

We’re relieved that the girl is now reinstated as the winner of the race.

If a student of any size, race, gender or body type needs to adjust a slipped suit, that can and should be quietly communicated to the swimmer by the coach. We weren’t present during that swim meet, but we suspect the only asses anybody really needs to be concerned about are the ones who insulted a young girl in a school sports uniform. 

In the meantime, people who clutch their pearls when they glimpse a flash of buttcheek probably shouldn’t attend swim meets, and really might be more comfortable moving to a country where the repressive regime requires women to cover every part of their bodies, such as Saudi Arabia. 

We hope this sends a message to other referees, school officials and anyone else who thinks it’s his or her job to police female appearance: Stop worrying so much about the dress and body type of young women. We know you can do it, because you almost never call out males, and come to think of it, we cannot remember the last time an older lady was called out, either. It always seems to be young women who are targeted. We’re sure there must be a very good explanation for that, but we can’t think of one right now.

Buttcheek-gate is a shame and should never have happened


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