This Middle School Suggested Teen Girls Wear Shapewear to Improve Body Image
“We, the counsellors of Southhaven Middle School, would like to have an opportunity to offer some healthy literature on maintaining a positive body image. We are also providing girls with shapewear, bras, and other health products if applicable.”
You, the counsellors of Southhaven Middle School, have completely missed the point.
Last week, Ashley Heun shared a letter on Facebook that her 8th-grade daughter had brought home from school. It started by detailing how damaging a negative body image is for girls, and how adhering to societal expectations can adversely affect their mental health… and then goes on to offer them shapewear so that they can feel better about themselves. As though the only way to not be crippled by society’s beauty standards is to … follow society’s beauty standards. What’s next? Should we bring back corsets?
“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,’” wrote Heun. “What should be put under a microscope is this message that we can so easily send to our girls and boys, without even realizing it, that your body is not good enough. You need to alter your body, you’re not the ideal.” She has since met with the school principal, who agreed to cancel the program.
The real message that we need to be sending to teenage girls is that their bodies have worth, no matter their shape or size. That they have worth, as humans, regardless of their bodies.
Puberty is a crucial time for developing self-esteem
The teenage years are such a crucial time for developing self-esteem. As girls pass through puberty, and feel their bodies change into a more womanly form, it can be awkward and embarrassing. Research shows that adolescents can gain 40 pounds or grow up to 10 inches between middle school and high school. Such major shifts are hard to deal with, especially in a society that disparages women for taking up space, for having the curves and fat that for many of us are our natural morphology.