Mom Calls Out Mississippi Middle School for Offering Shapewear to Help Girls with Their 'Body Image'

The school has since canceled the program, which would have sent shapewear, bras and "healthy literature" on "maintaining a positive body image" to female students

Ashley Heun
Ashley Heun and her daughter. Photo: Ashley Heun

A Mississippi middle school is canceling plans to give out shapewear to female students to help with their "body image" after parents criticized the program.

Ashley Heun said that her daughter, an 8th-grader, came home from Southaven Middle School on Tuesday with a note titled, "Why Do Girls Suffer from Body Image?" In the letter, counselors at the school said that "girls are more likely than boys to have a negative body image," and that "girls with a positive body image are more likely to have good physical and mental health."

"We, the counselors of Southaven Middle School, would like to have an opportunity to offer some healthy literature to your daughters on maintaining a positive body image," they said. "We are also providing girls with shapewear, bras and other health products if applicable."

They asked parents to either say no to the offer or fill in their daughters' shapewear and bra sizes.

Heun said she was "shocked" and "angry" when she read through the letter.

"I had to read it a few more times, to make sure I was actually reading what I was actually reading," she told USA Today.

Ashley Heun
The letter from Southaven Middle School. Courtesy Ashley Heun

The mom of two said she took a few hours to calm down and think through what she wanted to say, and then emailed Southaven's principal, John Sartain. Heun also posted photos of the letter on Facebook and Twitter.

"There it was, though, in all its glory, offering my daughter SPANX," Heun wrote in the email. "My 13-year-old daughter. Shapewear. If my daughter begged me for shapewear, I would tell her no. I would be concerned about her if she even asked. Now I find out that you are ENCOURAGING her to wear it."

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Sartain called her the next morning to apologize and explained that they had received a donation of bras, underwear and shapewear, and formulated the program as a way to use them. But after Heun and several other parents complained, they decided to cancel their plans.

DeSoto County Schools, which oversees Southaven Middle School, confirmed to PEOPLE that the school had canceled the program and said they "understand how this type of information causes serious concern for parents."

"While I know they had good intentions, it was just very ill conceived," Heun said of the program, to USA Today. "And I appreciate the fact that they want to help, because there are girls out there who don't have access to bras or other essential items, for whatever reason."

Heun told Today that she now feels motivated to "advocate for any girl who feels 'less than' because of her body size."

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