Target: Ray Carlock, Superintendent of Brookhaven School District
Goal: Issue a formal apology to a young girl and her family for body shaming her and unjustly punishing her.
A dress code violation most likely brings to mind the image of a teenage girl in too-short shorts and too-short crop top, but that wasn’t the case for a 9-year-old girl in Brookhaven, Mississippi. The young girl was sent home for wearing cotton leggings and a Minnie Mouse T-shirt because they were too “form-fitting,” according to the school. However, pictures of the girl in this outfit indicate what the school really had a problem with: her weight.
Like so many American children, this innocent girl is somewhat overweight, and as such has a curvier stomach than most of her classmates. Her body type makes it harder to find flattering clothes, hence the school’s critique that her outfit was too tight. Even though her clothes were appropriately sized and not at all revealing, this little girl was punished because she could not conceal her belly to the school’s liking. Because she was not of an “ideal” body type, she was punished unfairly with an at-home suspension.
This is clearly a case of body shaming on the school’s part, and they should be ashamed of themselves. Young girls are already known to have self-esteem issues and have been reported starting diets as young as the age of 9 because of the fatphobic, body shaming culture we live in. This poor girl should not be punished for her body type. Demand that the school apologize immediately and end their discriminatory regulation of the dress code.
Dear Mr. Carlock,
I was appalled to learn about a young girl at your school who was sent home wearing a Minnie Mouse T-shirt and long leggings because they were supposedly “form-fitting.” She was wearing perfectly appropriate clothes for a 9-year-old girl, but it would appear that your school’s issue with the fit of her clothing had more to do with her being a bit overweight.
This young girl, like so many other children in this country, are victims of a contradictory culture that heavily endorses cheap, fatty foods yet criticizes anyone who is overweight. The result is tragic: up to half of girls as young as 6 are worried about their bodies. Young girls, bombarded with thin-fixated culture, often turn to dieting to “fix” their bodies. By punishing this girl because her perfectly modest t-shirt clung to her rounded belly, you are actively participating in the body shaming of a child. You are sending the message that something is wrong with her body and that she shouldn’t be allowed to wear the same style of clothing as her classmates. You are damaging her self-esteem and identity before it’s even fully formed.
I demand that you apologize to this girl and her family immediately for the emotional stress and trauma they have had to endure throughout this process. Additionally, I must urge you to reevaluate the criteria of Brookhaven Elementary’s dress code and consider how certain rules may discriminate against children whose weight may be above-average.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: PublicDomainPictures