For better or for worse, Sydney Spies put Durango on the map on the national level with her now-infamous yearbook photo.
The DurangoHerald originally published the story about Spies, 18, protesting the yearbook editors decision not to run her photo because they deemed it inappropriate Jan. 5. The story went viral within 24 hours, appearing on news websites and blogs. Spies appeared on the Today Show just four days later.
What made this story so popular?
Professors at Fort Lewis College said the story provides an escape for readers from the harsh realities of a tumultuous time, with the economy in upheaval and a presidential election under way.
The photo also is something that anyone can have an opinion about just by looking at it, said Michele Malach, an English and communications professor at FLC.
People are interested in (the story) partly because its not important. Its a nice distraction story about a small town in the middle of nowhere, she said. Its a fun story. People need a break from important stories.
Sociology professor Janine Fitzgerald agreed and said the story also has unified people by making them feel they are a part of something.
How did the story reach a national and international level?
Its a consumer-driven story, said Leslie Blood, a media studies professor and teacher-adviser for The Independent student magazine. It appeals to the voyeuristic part of people.
It wouldnt have gained traction if Spies wasnt attractive, she said.
Spies photo raised issues regarding feminism and how women should dress.
She unknowingly made a decision about how women should present themselves, said Jennifer Stollman, a history professor at FLC. Every generation creates its own idea of feminism, and thats what she thinks is feminism.
Malach said the publics reaction to the photo points to Americas culture of sexism.
Women should be able to own their sexuality and not be attacked for it, she said. Weve come a long way, but we still have sexist stereotypes about appropriate behavior with young men and women.
Regardless of how people feel about the photo, Spies made her mark.
(The yearbook editors) saying no gave her an opportunity. She took advantage of that opportunity, Blood said. Her name will be remembered.