Sydney Spies, an eighteen year old senior at Durango High has been getting mad-press this past week for her yearbook photo submission, which was turned down because it was deemed inappropriate. Here’s her first submission:
This photo was turned down because she was wearing too little clothing and the yearbook editors didn’t find it appropriate. She submitted the one below as a second choice. Honestly speaking, if I was her, could have predicted that one would also be turned down. She’s saying it’s censorship, but she’s not being censored anywhere else. She has now been on the Today Show and is all over the internet and even on my blog. If this is a publicity stunt, it’s way better than a sex tape.
First of all, I just have to say Sydney Spies is a cool name. I don’t know if it was original or what, but cool. Comicbook-esque. Sydney wants to be a model. In the end, her family paid to have this picture be in the yearbook, but she can’t have it as her senior picture. People have made all kinds of comments on the facebook page she set up, including: “You are gross and your parents are losers like you are.” and “Too sexy for a young woman. Think of how you will be remembered for the rest of your life, in the eyes of your classmates.”
I’m not going to criticize Sydney for this, whether it is a publicity stunt or not. The thing is: She looks like what the media tells young women that sexy looks like. Women are told from all angles what is hot and what is not. If you follow the pop songs, if you see what makes women popular in this world and on TV, this is how you fit in. This is how you get a man and men still run the world and the media and modeling world.
Go to downtown Albuquerque, Austin, or Atlanta on a Saturday night and there are a gazillion Sydney Spies. Beautiful young women with not a lot of clothing, even if it’s cold. I’ve seen it. There are outfits that I have been shocked by- skirts short enough to make your head turn, way low necklines, but should we hang the women out to dry? I say NO.
Messages young women get about how they should look: Be sexy. Your body is what’s important not your mind or who you are. Modeling is art. Porn is not, but it’s close and it’s not a bad alternative if you can’t make it as a model. Being sexy is looking do-able, but not just do-able- you want everyone to want to do you. You want people to objectify you. This is the way you are valued in this world.
Sydney looks like a model or at least the ones in the fashion mags or on America’s Next Top Model show. Does she look appropriate for a high school year book? She doesn’t meet the dress code for the high school, so I would say No. But, Sydney Spies looks exactly like I would expect a young woman who wants to be a model to look.
Isn’t she objectifying herself? No. The patriarchal system we live under objectifies Sydney Spies, along with all of the other teenager girls and women of all ages out there. Think of what a huge thing it is in the porn industry to make women look as much like girls as possible. Think about how objectified underage girls are. It’s awful and terrifying and it happens all the time. We live in a patriarchal society that promotes this. So why is Sydney Spies being censored?
Society has basically instructed her to show off her body and dress less and now she is being punished for doing so at an inappropriate time. Women have been told for years off and on what is appropriate dress and what isn’t. Women need to be able to make decisions about how we dress without other people weighing in on it and if a yearbook has rules about dress code, maybe it needs to make them clearer so they don’t censor her or anyone else.
Grrl Code: Don’t blame or criticize the women for how she dresses. The patriarchy tells us how to dress to be sexy or successful in different arenas. She’s dressing the part- don’t blame her. Also: Understand we are awesome and sexy and beautiful without wearing clothing that is really short or revealing. Redefine sexy!
More on Sydney: