Sydney Spies, a Durango, Colo., High School senior, made headlines over the weekend after news spread that her school yanked her yearbook photo due to her super-sexy attire.
Officials at the school told the 18-year-old that she had violated the Colorado school's dress code by wearing a black shawl as a top and a bright yellow skirt with inches of skin in between. The high school requires that tops fully cover the chest, back, abdomen and sides of the student.
A maelstrom of media attention followed, as Sydney's photo circulated on the internet. Not all words were kind. Some compared her photo to that of a soft-porn advertisement. What you're looking at is not a flier for a taxi dance club/potato bar located on the outskirts of Reno. This is the picture 18-year-old Sydney Spies (no comment on that name) tried to submit as her official senior portrait, wrote DListed blogger Michael K.
Another critic posted on the Sydney Spies, Public Figure Facebook page a photo comparing Syndey to Courtney Stodden, the 17-year-old who married 51-year-old actor Doug Hutchinson. Under the photo reads the caption: Here is your future honey, you are a disgusting piece of work...
Monday morning, Sydney and her mother Miki Spies, who has been protesting alongside her daughter against the high school's censorship, spoke to TODAY host Matt Lauer about the photo. I honestly think (the picture) describes who I am. I'm an outgoing person and I really do think it's artistic, Sydney said.
Sydney and her mother were both especially perturbed that other students who submitted photos displaying their interests, i.e. playing a particular sport, were not scolded. It's a little different from everyone else's picture, she said. I feel like they aren't allowing me to have my freedom of expression. I think the administration is wrong in this situation, and I don't want this to happen to other people.
The blonde teen said that she turned in the photo to school officials and then was told to choose a different shot. However, she claims yearbook editors had already voted 4-to-1 to allow it. The editors disagreed. They told The Durango Herald Thursday that they were the ones who decided to remove Spies' photo, not school officials. We are an award-winning yearbook. We don't want to diminish the quality with something that can be seen as unprofessional, said editor Brian Jamirillo.
I think it was the administration, Sydney told Lauer. They had a meeting with the principal and the next day their whole decision changed and completely against me.
Syndey's mom had misgivings about the photo herself. I asked her not to do it, she said. I said, 'Sydney, really, is this the one you want?' But, then, she realized it was her daughter's choice. Now, looking at the picture, I see it the way Sydney sees it. It's artistic. It's stunning.
The yearbook staff said that they are now willing to run the photo in the back of the yearbook as a paid ad, which will cost the Spies $300. If it's going to be in the yearbook anyway, then why should I not be able to have it as my senior picture? she told Lauer. That's what I don't understand.
The family is considering legal action against the school, citing Colorado's Revised Statutes Section 22-1-120 which reads, students of the public schools shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press and that no expression contained in a student publication, whether or not such publication is school-sponsored, shall be subject to prior restraint.
It's illegal for the administration to get involved, so that's why we're even considering (legal action), concluded Sydney.