A letter was sent home to parents offering the products
One Mississippi middle school thought a good way to tackle girls’ body image concerns was by offering them free “shapewear, bras, and other health products,” prompting outrage from parents that this would be an actual suggestion from school leadership.
Ashley Heun, of Southaven, Mississippi, shared the letter sent home with her 13-year-old daughter, Caroline, from counselors at Southaven Middle School titled, “Why Do Girls Suffer from Body Image?” The letter talked about body images issues that young girls face and to “help,” they asked for parents’ consent to receive “healthy literature” and shapewear.
“So this is what my 8th grade daughter brought home from school today,” Heun stated. “I am beyond pissed, though I’m not sure if I’m more pissed at the fact that they had the ‘balls’ to send this home or the VERY IGNORANCE of the ‘counselors’ at the school.”
She continued: “You begin this masterpiece detailing how damaging a negative body image is for girls, how the stress of conforming to an impossible perceived image can adversely affect their mental health, and then OFFER TO GIVE THEM SPANX SO THEY CAN BETTER FIT THE PERCEIVED IMAGE?!? What. The. Very. F@$&. How, in the hell, are you promoting a positive body image by saying ‘here, you’re too fat. You need shapewear to make you look thinner.’ Are you freaking kidding me?”
It’s bad enough how sexist dress codes are in schools because a girl dares to show her arms, distracting boys who are “just trying to learn,” but to suggest the way a young girl should deal with body image issues is by wearing shapewear meant to “fix” certain parts of her body is unconscionable. Developing a healthy body image has zero to do with hiding their body in any way, shape, or form. Not with the clothes they wear and certainly not with what’s underneath them. The fact that this comes from people in a school meant to counsel and teach students is disgusting.
“The district has been made aware of the parental permission form sent to parents by Southaven Middle School,” Lauren Margeson, DeSoto County School’s executive administrative assistant to the superintendent, told CNN in a written statement. “District officials understand how this type of information causes serious concern from parents.”
The letter states girls are more prone to body image issues and that this may be because “they feel pressured to measure up to strict and unrealistic social and cultural body ideals,” yet offer them shapewear meant to do just that. I’m all for offering personal hygiene products and clothing for girls who don’t have access. But to correlate that in any capacity with body image is dangerous and irresponsible.