Sydney Spies Scandal: Update on 2012 DHS celebrity


Special to El Diablo

Sydney Spies was a 2012 Senior at Durango High School that wanted her senior photo to be somewhat scandalous in the yearbook. It was declined by the staff

Catie Marqua, Reporter

Many members of the Durango community recall Sydney Spies’ reputedly, scandalous senior photo that grabbed the nation’s attention. Five years later, this scandal has led Spies and her mother, Mickie Spies, on a quest to improve humanities’ state of consciousness.

Major controversy arrived after DHS’ 2012 yearbook committee and administration deemed Spies’ senior photo ‘too sexy’ to print. After speaking out against the yearbook staff members’ decision, a local story quickly became national news. Spies and her mother were contacted by multiple media outlets and appeared on the Today Show to voice their thoughts on the controversy.

The dispute broke the Today Show’s online poll record after asking viewers if they thought the photo, “too inappropriate” to be in the yearbook. Seventy-seven percent of the votes were not in Sydney Spies’s favor. Despite the large majority of people who agreed the photo was not yearbook appropriate, Sydney and her mother still fought back.

“I fought for my freedom of expression…judgment, jealousy, negativity, fear, and attempts to suppress my free nature came from people of all ages, sex and race. I saw the dark side of humanity. Strangers, ‘friends’, neighbours, even family sided with the majority, believing that my voice needed to be silenced, that flaunting my sexuality was a horrific crime,” said the former DHS student Spies.

At the time Sydney was only seventeen-years-old and did not not have the support from her peers and much of the criticism she received was incredibly malicious.

“I had the worst of the worst being said about me by hundreds of thousands; whore, slut, prostitute, porn star, where’s your stripper pole? I even received death threats,” said Spies.

In spite of the hateful comments coming from people all over the nation and even peers from her community, the support of Spies’ mother was enough for her to not allow the negativity to silence her beliefs.  

“My mom is my best friend. Had she not championed me, I wouldn’t have been so bold. As long as you have one person that believes in you and has your back no matter what, you can take over the world. As for my ‘peers’, almost all of them hated on me viciously. It surprised me. I overcame tremendous adversity and came out stronger without the support of my peers,” said Spies.

At the time, Spies voiced that she was fighting for her freedom of expression but as she reflected on the controversy five years later, she discerned that the fight ran much deeper than simply having her photo be allowed into the yearbook.

“I fought for my freedom of expression. I thought that fight was limited to the legalities of the student press law. But in reality, it was a much bigger issue. It was about self expression and the suppression of sexuality in our society. People didn’t care what I was fighting for. All they saw was a seductive young girl in a sexy photograph. They did everything they could to discourage my free nature,” said Spies.

A lot changes in five years, especially when people like Sydney Spies and her mother practice their rights and vocalize their opinions in pursuit of instigating change. However, not much has changed in regards to the majorities stance on whether the photo is yearbook appropriate.

“I didn’t think the photo was appropriate. I mean, everyone else is held to a standard and I don’t think she should be exempt from that,” said DHS security guard Steve Kerchee.

A current member of the 2017-2018 high school yearbook staff explains that even today the photo would not meet the requirements to be allowed into the yearbook.

“As an editor, there are certain things we can’t allow in the yearbook. The photo [of Spies] shows a lot of skin and comes off kind of seductive.  Our job is to make sure the photo leaves a good legacy for you and that you would be okay to show your grandparents or twenty years later you could show your children that picture,” said yearbook editor Sr. Caleigh Walker.

The 2012 yearbook staff might have speculated that Sydney’s photo would be compromising to her legacy, but Sydney is grateful for the experience and finds that it impacted her life for the better.

“We moved to a foreign country to begin building our empire. We’ve written books, become Master Astrologers, Life Coaches and Love Gurus. We study esoteric knowledge on the daily, teach the art of manifestation and coach thousands in elevating their physical, spiritual, mental and emotional well-being. Had I not had this experience, I would not be the person I am today” said Spies.