Middle school students in Mississippi offered ‘shapewear’ in body image discussion

Concerned parents said it’s not the topic of body image that has them concerned, but that the...
Concerned parents said it’s not the topic of body image that has them concerned, but that the school is offering some female students “shapewear” for them to wear.(WMC)
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 10:23 AM CST
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SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (WMC/Gray News) – A form sent home with students about a new body image program offered from a school in Mississippi has some parents upset.

According to WMC, counselors at the middle school wanted to talk to female students about body image.

Concerned parents said it’s not the topic that bothers them, but that the school is offering “shapewear” for them to wear.

“I really felt that this letter really missed the mark in so many ways,” said Southaven Middle School parent Ashely Heun, who has two children enrolled at the school.

Heun was surprised when her eighth-grade daughter came home with a parent permission form about the new program.

In the form, school counselors introduce a program to address the stress and negative effects young girls suffer from trying to live up to an “ideal body shape.”

“I had to read it several times. Because I thought there’s no way this is saying what I think that it says,” Heun explained.

Counselors are offering resources for students, like literature, health products, bras and shapewear.

“There are girls who have a need for maybe bras or some other essential things that may be, for whatever reason, they don’t have access to, and I absolutely love the fact that the school felt that maybe they could help with that. But shapewear should have never been in the conversation,” Heun said.

The DeSoto County School District says Southaven Middle School has pulled the plug on starting the program.

District officials sent this statement to Action News 5:

Mental health expert Melissa Donahue says social media and societal standards create skewed perceptions of body image, especially for teens.

“It’s very difficult for teenagers that are seeing that and have unrealistic expectations of what they’re supposed to look like as they’re growing into their skin and to be OK with themselves,” Donahue said.

Heun says she spoke with Southaven Middle School’s principal Tuesday. She says she was told the shapewear, bras, and other items mentioned were donated.

She hopes this encourages parents to have conversations about body image with their teenagers.

“Being able to talk about it is that first step, and having adults that children listen to is a great place to start,” Donahue said.

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