A 9-year-old girl was punished for wearing form-fitting shirts at school
The chatter surrounding school dress codes has hit a fever pitch with new stories emerging almost daily about kids and teens being removed from class for their attire. Often, the “offending” clothes are perfectly reasonable, as is the case with the most recent instance of a school going overboard in punishing a child for a dress code “violation.”
This time, the student is only nine years old.
According to the child’s uncle Robbie Nettles, his niece, a student at Brookhaven Elementary School, was sent to in-school suspension for wearing a top deemed too “formfitting” to comply with the apparently very rigid dress code.
Formfitting. A 9-year-old. Let that swim around in your brain for a minute.
In a Facebook post that’s now been shared over 46,000 times, Nettles acknowledges that the child is a bit bigger than some kids her age and considering that fact, the family believes the girl was body-shamed by the school’s administration. And they would be correct.
He writes, “Does my niece’s round belly OFFEND you? Obviously, her attire was too form fitting. It was offensive enough to get her sent to in-school suspension at Brookhaven Elementary School. Apparently, it is acceptable to body shame a nine year old.”
The clothing that initially got her suspended was the Minnie Mouse shirt depicted in the first image. It covers everything that should be covered, but fits a bit snug. The second photo is the outfit her mother brought in to hopefully bring her up to the school’s standard, but that too was deemed inappropriate. It even has bunching up by her shoulder with extra fabric — how was that rejected?
Again, this is a 9-year-old child. She was suspended for her attire and she’s only nine. Children that age aren’t out shopping for their own clothes. If a young kid wears something to school that is somehow inappropriate, it should fall on the parents. And if a school has an issue with a child’s clothing at that age, they should do what her uncle suggested — have her sit in the office instead of being sent to in-school suspension.
Nettles continues, “My niece may not be the ideal weight, but she was not showing anything inappropriate.” He told The Daily Leader, “No 9-year-old should have to deal with this situation. And be made to feel criticized about her body weight.”
The post is garnering plenty of support from people saying the child looks totally appropriate for school and that she shouldn’t have been punished. School superintendent Ray Carlock says the principal followed the dress code guidelines “to the letter” in punishing the girl. And to that we say, so what? Maybe that letter needs altering, because this situation is positively bonkers.
The girl is my own daughter’s age, and she owns countless shirts that fit the exact same way. I looked up her school dress code and, guess what? There isn’t one. Somehow, the very large district my kids attend functions smoothly without creepily specific standards kids must adhere to in order to be compliant. The dress code section of their school code of conduct leaves attire decisions to a student and their parents’ discretion. As it should be. If this girl’s parents are OK with the snug fit of her shirt in relation to her body type, it shouldn’t matter what her school’s administration thinks. Frankly, it’s none of their business how a 9-year-old dresses her body, so long as she’s dressed.
From all appearances, this child was absolutely singled out because of her body shape and size, which is abhorrent. As Nettles points out, “It sickens me to imagine my sweet niece going to a school that cares more about her weight than what’s in her mind.”
He’s not alone there. Hopefully, this post gaining national attention will mean the school takes another look at their policy — or at the very least, apologizes to this girl and her family. Because it’s their conduct that needs examining, not hers.