Parents outraged after Mississippi school suggests shapewear for girls’ body image issues

(CNN) — One Mississippi middle school’s attempt at addressing girls’ body image concerns sparked outrage among parents, forcing the school to backtrack.

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

The letter discussed body images issues among females and, at the bottom, offered parents the option to consent to their daughters receiving “healthy literature” and shapewear clothing items.

“We, the counselors of Southaven Middle School, would like to have an opportunity to offer some healthy literature to your daughter on maintaining a positive body image,” part of the letter reads.

“I had to reread it a few times,” Heun told CNN. “My first instinct was to go up to the school and yell at every person I could find.”

<p>Shapewear can be defined as tight-fitting undergarments to control or shape someone's figure.</p>

Adobe Stock

Shapewear can be defined as tight-fitting undergarments to control or shape someone's figure.

Heun told CNN that eighth-grader Caroline had called the letter “stupid” and didn’t understand its purpose.

After taking some time to calm down and gather her thoughts, Heun took to Facebook to share her concerns. Other parents quickly chimed in, in agreement.

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

She then sent Southaven Principal John Sartain a lengthy email to further express her concerns.

“The letter, unfortunately, takes an unforeseen turn by offering my daughter SHAPEWEAR,” Heun’s email read. “If my daughter begged me for shapewear, I would tell her no. Now I find out that you are ENCOURAGING her to wear it. I, honestly, am baffled that a ‘counselor’ who is TRAINED in child psychology would actually think that this is a good idea.”

Sartain called Heun on Wednesday morning, and they met later that day. Heun said Sartain was very apologetic and said the counselors had nothing but 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 permission form sent to parents by Southaven Middle School,” Lauren Margeson, DeSoto County School’s executive administrative assistant to the superintendent, told CNN in a written statement. “District officials understand how this type of information causes serious concern from parents.”

“I don’t think they were trying to send out that message, but bottom line is that’s the message that came across,” Heun added.

CNN reached out to Southaven Middle School for comment.

Heun notes that she didn’t intend for this to be anything more than voicing her concern and adds that everyone makes mistakes and the school is working on fixing theirs.

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