Schools have started up again in most parts of the country, and you know what that means!
More awful, sexist dress codes that numerous people in authority somehow decided were a good idea.
This story is even worse than the usual dress code nonsense, however, and it came right from a South Carolina principal’s lips. …
High school principal Heather Taylor assembled her students and she had some very controversial opinions about how her students should dress.
Her target: leggings.
For some reason, a lot of people like to take aim at leggings.
Usually the arguments either go that “leggings aren’t pants!”
(Which is not correct, because leggings are totally pants. We don’t want to get into the definition of pants but … they’re pants.)
Or they go “oh no, boys will be distracted by the Hypnotizing Curves of your Sinful Flesh.”
Obviously, if a boy is staring at a girl’s butt in class instead of paying attention, this is his responsibility.
It’s alarming that school boards and administrators would have “the behavior of boys is the fault of a girl for how she dresses” mentalities, but it’s sadly not surprising.
There are clear parallels between that kind of blaming and the responses that people give when a woman is sexually assaulted.
Well, Principal Taylor had some truly terrible advice to give to her students.
Particularly to her female students.
Because her reason for why she doesn’t think that the girls should wear leggings is somehow worse than pretending that they turn girls into vortices of distraction and worse than pretending that they aren’t pants.
No, this grown woman threw some fat-shaming into the mix:
“I’ve told you this before, I’m going to tell you this now, unless you are a size zero or two and you wear something like that, even though you’re not fat, you look fat”
That is horrifying.
Adolescent girls in particular are, thanks to hormonal vulnerability, the chaos of puberty, and some pernicious cultural factors, at what’s usually the most vulnerable period of time in their lives.
Hearing an authority figure shame the vast majority of women by telling them that their legs will look fat is … horrifying.
(And, by the way, my friends who are not Kendall Jenner wear leggings all of the time and they tend to look flattering, though it honestly doesn’t matter what they look like because not everybody’s trying to prep for a photoshoot when they get dressed for school)
Commenters on the Stratford High School Facebook page had, very appropriately, zero chill about calling out that awful principal.
Was your first though upon reading her words that she should resign? Because you were not alone.
A parent of an 11th grade girl spoke to Taylor about the incident and was not impressed.
“Body shaming teenage girls is uncalled for, inappropriate and unprofessional. When I spoke with her, she talked around the issue, and made excuse after excuse, effectively calling all of the students liars. This has upset many, many more students than just those in the 10th grade. My daughter is in the 11th grade, and is livid. She has been ridiculed by students for her body, and shouldn’t be subjected to it from teachers.”
If you’re going to deny something, folks, maybe make sure that there isn’t a recording.
(There was definitely a recording and it aired on their local news)
And others made very good points about why, exactly, this was such an awful thing for Taylor to have said:
“Disappointed, disgusted, and disheartened that such a comment had been made to impressionable young women and men by someone they should be able to look up to; and then follow up with the audacity to lie about it!”
Nice alliteration, but an even better point.
“How horrifying that a person who’s very mission should include making every student under her care feel worthy of respect made a point of fat shaming girls at a point in their lives where they are already vulnerable.”
It looks like the immediate and nationwide backlash had some effect, though.
First, Heather Taylor released a statement apologizing and saying that her words had come out wrong.
“Yesterday and this morning, I met with each class of the Stratford High School student body. I addressed a comment made during a 10th grade assembly and shared from my heart that my intention was not to hurt or offend any of my students in any way. I assured them all that I am one of their biggest fans and invested in their success.”
Later, in a Facebook video with a group of students who expressed a willingness to overlook Taylor’s past words and accept her apology, Taylor
“I’m so remorseful, and I have learned a lesson. You learn, no matter what, every single day you learn.”
Honestly, if it were our sibling or our child who attended that school, we’d have concerns about any administrator who is still learning to not body-shame high schoolers.
But apparently parts of the student body are willing to let her stay.
We’ll see what happens.