What kids put on their body seems to be getting a lot of attention lately. My father always told me we “go to school to learn, it’s not a fashion show” but it kind of is when you are a teenager trying to fit in with your peers. As parents we can probably all agree how teens dress shouldn’t be everything, but it does matter. After all, we were all there and can remember the feelings we had around our self-esteem and what we put on our bodies.
Teenagers are just like everyone else – they want to feel good about themselves and this is a fragile time as self-esteem issues can come between them and their school work and relationships.
While most schools seem to share pretty common threads in their dress codes: No explicit language on clothing, no undergarments showing, and nothing too short, unfortunately, there are times when teens are embarrassed and body shamed in front of their peers.
This was the case with 17-year-old Kelsey Anderson of Joplin, MO, a senior, who went to school looking amazing wearing a long sleeve top and skinny jeans – which covered almost every inch of skin on her body – but a teacher found a problem with the outfit and told her she needed to go to the office.
When Anderson asked why she was being sent to the office her teacher told her that “bustier women need to wear clothing that covers their cleavage” then proceeded to tell her “plus-sized women needed to dress accordingly.” And she said those words in front of the entire classroom.
Anderson’s mother, Melissa Barber, posted a picture of her daughter on Facebook, and explained what happened after she went on to defend her daughter who was being called out for dress code violation, “I was called to come to the school for a meeting with a counselor (female) and a principal (male). This principal continued to defend the teacher by saying, ‘Well, we have never had a problem with her before.’ I began explaining that my daughter was just sexualized by her teacher in front of the whole class. She was embarrassed and horrified. She requested to be removed from the teacher’s class. He said no. He continued to defend the teacher,'” Barber wrote.
Barber felt they weren’t getting anywhere and decided she and her daughter should leave, “I refuse to put my daughter in a situation where her self-esteem is completely destroyed. She is there to learn. This whole time she was missing out on an education while we were all sitting in a room discussing her boobs. How often does this happen to your sons? Seems like another way to keep girls uneducated,” she wrote.
The post has since been shared almost 73K times with over 31K comments mostly from those who have come to the family’s defense.
In an article for Today, Anderson said ” I was mortified that she would say that to me, especially in front of my class. It was very hurtful, I think I was targeted because of my breast size and body type. This isn’t the first time that she’s said something to me about being a large-breasted woman and that makes me feel uncomfortable.”
Anderson later spoke about her experiences in this clip from CBS News.
Her mother has hired an attorney and says on her Facebook page she is thankful for all the support, “Thank you so much for standing with her! I started this fight for my daughter. I will finish it for yours.”
The family is planning on taking legal action and Barber hopes to set an example “I hope that no other young girls have to go through what my daughter went through, and that the school corrects the situation so that it doesn’t happen again.”