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Outraged parents after school suggest fitness clothes to tackle college girls’ body image issues

Written by By Sara Smart, CNN

A Mississippi college’s attempt to address girls’ body image issues sparked outrage among parents, forcing the school to back down.

Ashley Heun, of Southaven, Mississippi, got angry after her 13-year-old daughter Caroline gave her a letter from Southaven Middle School on Tuesday titled “Why Girls Suffer From Body Image ? ”

The letter discussed body image issues in women and, at the bottom, offered parents the option of consenting to their daughters receiving “healthy literature” and fitness clothing.

“We, the Southaven Middle School counselors, would love the opportunity to provide your daughter with healthy literature on maintaining a positive body image,” part of the letter read.

“I must have reread it several times,” Heun told CNN. “My first instinct was to go to school and yell at everyone I could find.”

Heun told CNN that eighth-grader Caroline called the letter “stupid” and did not understand its purpose.

After taking the time to calm down and collect her thoughts, Heun took to Facebook to share her concerns. Other parents quickly jumped in, okay.

Ashley Heun and her 13 year old daughter Caroline. Credit: courtesy of Ashley Heun

“It’s hard to raise girls in this environment with social media, with filters and Photoshop,” Heun said. “They are bombarded with images of what the ideal body is.”

She then sent a lengthy email to Southaven manager John Sartain to further voice her concerns.

“The letter, unfortunately, takes an unexpected turn by offering my daughter SHAPEWEAR,” reads Heun’s email. “If my daughter begged me for good clothes, I would say no to her. Now I find that you are ENCOURAGING her to wear them. Honestly, I’m baffled that a “counselor” trained in child psychology actually thinks this is a good idea. “

Sartain called Heun Wednesday morning and they met later that day. Heun said Sartain apologized and the advisers had only good intentions with the note. He also told her that the program had since been canceled.

“The district has been made aware of the parental consent form sent to parents by Southaven Middle School,” Lauren Margeson, DeSoto County School’s executive administrative assistant, told CNN. “District officials understand how this type of information is of great concern to parents.”

Outraged parents after school suggest fitness clothes to tackle college girls’ body image issues

Shapewear can be defined as tight fitting underwear to control or shape someone’s figure. Credit: Adobe Stock

“I don’t think they were trying to send that message, but in the end, that’s the message that got through,” Heun added.

CNN has reached out to Southaven Middle School for comment.

Heun notes that she had no intention of it being anything other than expressing concern and adds that everyone makes mistakes and the school is working to fix theirs.

Parents, talk to your children

“If anything comes out of this virality, I hope it starts a conversation,” Heun said.

Author of “Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety”, John duffy, spoke to CNN about how parents can tackle bodily issues with their children.

“We have a generation of children who are concerned about their appearance, and their self-esteem and self-esteem all too often depend on their weight or perceived flaws in their bodies,” Duffy told CNN. “Even in middle school, their physical appearance is on children’s minds almost all the time.”

He notes that children already spend a lot of time focusing on what they may perceive as negative aspects and that it is important to help them focus on the positive aspects.

“A more effective and useful intervention would be to focus on both accepting your body and building strength, not on a ‘perfect’ body,” Duffy added.

Phyllis fagell, author of “Middle School Matters” and school counselor, also spoke to CNN about how to deal with these issues.

“Seemingly harmless comments like ‘Are you sure you want a second helping? “Can be brutal for a college kid,” Fagell told CNN.

She notes that the pandemic has also had a huge effect on the mental health of students. With the return of schools to in-person classes, students are even more sensitive and body image issues can be exacerbated.

Regarding his advice to parents, teachers or caregivers, Fagell notes, “Make sure everything is aligned. From what you tell them, how you talk about yourself and don’t label food as good or bad. . “

All of the CNN experts agreed that parents should do what they can to be good role models for their children.

Heun shared that she too has struggled with body image issues in the past and still struggles to this day.

“It’s very difficult as a parent to try not to project my own insecurities onto myself onto Caroline,” Heun said.

However, she says she is aware of the challenges children can face and understands the importance of doing her part to protect her children.

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