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Mum’s fury as school offers ‘shapewear’ to teen girls struggling with body image

A mum was left furious when her daughter’s school sent out a letter discussing ‘negative body images’ – as they planned to tackle the problem by offering girls shapewear

A woman comforting an emotional teenage girl. The girl is sitting with her legs crossed and looks upset, while the woman has her hand on her knee and is trying to make her feel better.
The woman’s daughter received a letter from school offering her free shapewear (stock image)

Body positivity is a movement that has gained traction over the past decade and sees us all encouraged to be proud of our bodies no matter what size or shape they may be.

As such one mum on Facebook has been left outraged after her daughter’s school sent out a letter which initially seemed to be telling young girls about the importance of not feeling “pressured” to meet society’s expectations of a perfect body – but then offered free shapewear to help them conform.

Ashley Wells Heun had her Facebook post shared on Twitter by Courtney Morgan – who posts under the username @itscourtneym – and explained the letter had been given to her daughter, who is in the 8th grade in the US.

The grade is the equivalent to Year 9 in the UK school system, which would make Ashley’s daughter around 13 years old.







Ashley’s story was shared on Twitter to bring more attention to it
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Image:

@itscourtneym/Twitter)

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The mum from Southaven, Mississippi, also shared a picture of the letter, which read: “Girls are more likely than boys to have a negative body image. This may be because many women in the United States feel pressured to measure up to strict and unrealistic social-cultural beauty ideals, which can lead to a negative body image.

“Girls with a positive body image are more likely to have good physical and mental health.

“Girls with negative thoughts and feelings about their bodies are more likely to develop certain mental health conditions, such as eating disorders and depression.”

The letter went on to state that the school wants to do what it can to “help our girls develop a healthier body image” – before offering them shapewear, which alters a person’s figure to help them fit society’s expectations.







The letter explained how harmful society’s expectations of women’s bodies can be
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Image:

@itscourtneym/Twitter)

The school added: “We, the counsellors of Southaven Middle School, would like to have an opportunity to offer some healthy literature to your daughter on maintaining a positive body image. We are also providing girls with shapewear, bras and other health products if applicable.”

In her post on Facebook, Ashley fumed at the decision to tackle the problem of “negative body image” by giving teenage girls the tools to make themselves “look thinner”.

She wrote: “So this is what my 8th grade daughter brought home from school today. I am beyond p***ed, though I’m not sure if I’m more p***ed at the fact they had the balls to send this home, or the very ignorance of the counsellors at the school.

“You begin this masterpiece by detailing how damaging a negative body image is for girls, and then OFFER TO GIVE THEM SPANX SO THEY CAN BETTER FIT THE PERCEIVED IMAGE?!? What. The. Very. F@$&.







People on social media were equally outraged by the letter
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Image:

@itscourtneym/Twitter)

“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?”

The school’s decision also received harsh backlash online, with people pointing out that 13-year-old girls shouldn’t be thinking about their body image at all.

One person wrote on Twitter: “Seriously this is awful. I’m dealing with body image issues at 60 but these young girls shouldn’t have to.”

While another said: “This is horrible. Where do we make a naked picket line to demonstrate that bodies are made in all sorts of shapes and sizes and they’re all good?”

Ashley also spoke to Commercial Appeal about the letter and said she has always done her best to keep her daughter away from content that could foster a negative body image.

The mum said: “I had to read it a few more times, to make sure I was actually reading what I was actually reading. I mean, I was shocked, I was absolutely shocked. And honestly, I was angry.

“I have worked really hard to not project my own body images, my own negative body image, to my daughter. I’ve tried really hard not to bad mouth how I look in front of her, so that she would putting those words in her own head about herself.”

Commercial Appeal have also confirmed that Southaven Middle School cancelled the program on Wednesday, January 12, following concerns raised by Ashley and other mums.

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