Pull up your big girl leggings and let it go | Column | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | September 2, 2017 5:00 pm
Last Updated: August 30, 2017 at 10:27 am
Lots of people are calling for the head of Stratford High School Principal Heather Taylor. After all, she embez… no, wait. OK, she assaulted a stu–… no, wait. She falsified test scor… no, wait. She started screaming during a PTA meeting… no, wait.
She told teenage girls leggings aren’t always flattering. And for this sin, she should of course be fired and slandered on every social media platform known to man.
It boggles the mind: Because she suggested that a certain popular fashion doesn’t look good on all body types, she’s been accused of “fat-shaming” and should be stoned, or some other equally fitting punishment.
Let’s be clear: She didn’t cook the books. She didn’t hit a child. She didn’t stagger into a public meeting. She didn’t say or do anything bigoted.
She simply said, during talks about the school’s dress code, that leggings can make all but the skinniest look fat: “Even if you aren’t fat, they make you look fat.” For this she should be fired?
Yes, high school girls are impressionable and can be prone to eating disorders. Yes, maybe she could have phrased that observation more tactfully. But she has publicly apologized. That should be the end of it.
Maybe her mistake was addressing teens as if they were adults. My reaction to her comments was, “Word.” Leggings are hard to pull off—no pun intended–unless you’re either tall or thin. I’m short and stubby. I wear them sometimes, when I want comfort over style, but I know they don’t flatter me.
In case you think I’m over-reacting, here are some comments on social media:
“Body shaming teenage girls is uncalled for, inappropriate and unprofessional.”
“She’s gotta go!”
“I’d can her in a heartbeat.”
“She should never be allowed to work around young females again.”
“… Telling an assembly full of young women that their clothes make them look fat is absolutely body shaming.”
It’s a good thing those posters didn’t have 10th grade gym class with Ms. Carmichael in Wilmington, N.C.
The summer after ninth grade, I grew three inches and gained 20-plus pounds. And one fine fall day, as we girls milled around the gym in those horrible green one-piece bloomers, Ms. Carmichael walked beside me and said, “You’re getting kind of chubby there.”
“I gained weight over the summer,” I said.
She nodded. “You’re still growing. But you might want to knock off a few,” she said, and blew the whistle to line up for volleyball.
When my mom picked me up that day, I said, “I made an A in biology and Ms. Carmichael told me I should lose weight.”
“She’s right. I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that,” Mom said. “I think 10 pounds would do it.”
“Okay,” I said. Then I went on a diet and lost 10 pounds. The end.
Nobody became hysterical, or called a TV station, or told the principal Ms. Carmichael was out of line.
What gives me hope is this mom, God bless her: “I know there’s freedom of speech, but I was appalled reading some of these Facebook posts. Ms. Taylor is a fabulous, fabulous principal. People don’t realize how much she does for her students. [My daughters said] she was not singling anyone out, she was not calling anyone fat, it was not meant to be derogatory.”
A dedicated educator made a verbal gaffe. She’s sorry. Pull up your big-girl leggings and let it go.
(Julie R. Smith, who looks like a club chair in leggings, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)