Volleyball player claims she was kicked off University team for posting pictures that were 'too sexy'
As if dealing with periods and everyday sexism wasn't enough, women also have to contend with being shamed for the decisions they make, and this is often in regards to their sartorial choices. Certainly, while many consider their online presence to be something that they're wholly in control of, one former University of Cincinnati student allegedly had a sports coach who took an active interest in the images she uploaded, and what she was wearing in them.
Volleyball player, Shalom Ifeanyi, has filed a federal discrimination suit claiming that she was kicked off her volleyball team for posting photos which were "too sexy" on social media.
In a lawsuit filed in Ohio's federal court last week, Shalom Ifeanyi, asserted that she was discriminated against on the basis of gender and race by Molly Alvey, the coach of the University of Cincinnati's female volleyball team. Avery kicked the student off the team, which resulted in her athletic scholarship being terminated.
Ifeanyi played volleyball competitively throughout high school, and college recruiters began approaching her when she was just 14-years-old. She initially attended Oregon State University, but later transferred to the University of Cincinnati in January of 2017.
"Almost immediately upon her arrival on campus, Alvey began harassing and shaming [Shalom Ifeanyi] about pictures she was posting on her personal social media accounts," according to the lawsuit.
Ifeanyi claims that Alvey told her that her photographs, in which she was fully clothed, were "too sexy". Ifeanyi proceeded to remove the images from her Instagram in fear of the situation escalating.
The lawsuit purports that the coach did not ask the other members of the women's volleyball team - all of whom were of slighter builds and lighter complexions - to remove images of themselves in two-piece bathing suits.
Throughout this period, Ifeanyi was in the process of recovering from knee surgery, and was invited to meet with Alvey to discuss her rehabilitation. The student claims that in the meeting, the coach closed the door and asked her to pull up her personal Instagram account.
"When the football players see this, what do you think they see? They see your breasts. It’s seductive," Alvey reportedly said, demanding that she remove several images.
Several days later, Ifeanyi claims she received a text message from the coach asking her to remove another photo from her social media account. The student objected, stating that she felt as if she was being unduly body-shamed.
The message reads:
"Ok Coach However I feel like I'm being body shamed because I'm not flat chested. I'm not trying to show my boobs coach, I can't make them go away. In these pictures I just got my hair done and really liked my makeup and thought the pictures were pretty. My teammates have swimsuit photos that are more revealing than me in a tank top. I will delete them if you really want me too [...] but I feel like because people say I'm pretty I'm being sexualised. There's a history of black women because of their bodies being sexualised and that's what appears to be happening to me. I can't help the way I'm built. I am not trying to argue, I just feel like I have to be flat chested or really skinny in order to post."
The following week, Ifeanyi received an award for being the "top performer of the week" by the strength training coach. However, five days after this, the complaint details that Alvey dismissed Ifeanyi from the team, on the grounds that they had "different philosophies". Ifeanyi was told to return her school-issued uniform the next day.
Ifeanyi proceeded to file a Title IX complaint with the University of Cincinnati alleging discrimination. While Ifeanyi was allowed to keep her scholarship for the 2017–2018 school year, she was informed that it would no longer be renewed as she was expelled from the volleyball claim. And due to NCAA transfer rules, the student will not be able to engage in competitive volleyball in the 2018–2019 season
A spokesperson from the university's athletic department have refused to comment on the pending legal matter.