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For the past 72-hours, social media newsfeeds have been buzzing with posts about what a South Carolina Principal said to students this week during assemblies that, in part, discussed the school’s dress code. Here are her comments as shared by ABC News’s Drew Tripp:

“(Leggings are) meant to wear underneath a long shirt that covers your heiny, or a long sweater of some type, or a dress. It is not meant to be your actual pants, and if you have a shirt that comes to here, then you are showing everything. Yes, everything,” the woman said in the recording. “The sad thing is with that, ladies — if someone has not told you this before, I’m going to tell you this now — unless you are a size zero or a two, and you wear something like that, even though you are not fat, you look fat…”

Friday August 25, 2017, that South Carolina Principal released the following statement:

“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…”

The high school’s Facebook page has since deleted a post about the Principal’s harmful words, but the following comment from the mother of an 11th grader, was shared before the post was deleted:

“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.”

A young woman who once suffered with anorexia wrote: “As a teen- and an adult- who struggled – with anorexia, this isn’t true and this isn’t ok. You’re beautiful and you’re worthy, as a 0 and a 2 and a 20.”

At Kantor & Kantor we represent clients whose insurance company denies coverage for their eating disorder treatment. Many of our client’s medical records report that they distinctly remember comments like those made by this Principal and how those comments were what prompted them to begin eating disordered behaviors. And often when we are working on a client’s case, we read about how their negative body image caused them to think about suicide.

In 2013, The Center for Advancing Health’s Health Behavior News shared sobering news from the Journal of Adolescent Health, reporting a clear link between negative body image and suicide in middle and high schoolers. The report stated, “Researchers found that suicidal thoughts were higher in those who thought they were overweight compared to those who didn’t see themselves as overweight (18 percent vs. 10.4 percent), even after controlling for such variables as age, ethnicity and depression and independent of actual body mass index (BMI)… Seeing oneself as overweight or obese may be an important, independent predictor of suicidal thoughts, especially in young girls.”
We hope that this Principal, and other people who may promote unhealthy body images, will come to embrace realistic views related to size, includin

• Clothing companies have arbitrary sizes!
• What the label says on your clothing does not determine whether or not you should wear the article of clothing.
• No one’s size determines whether or not they “look fat” in clothing.
• “Fat” is not ugly and it is not bad –it is NECESSARY for the human body to live and thrive.
• The word “fat” has been used to shame people for their size and bring about serious discrimination, two things that are never acceptable.
• The size on a clothing label does not indicate whether a person is healthy, or happy.

At Kantor & Kantor, we work to put an end to stigma surrounding eating and body image disorders. We are willing to stand up to insurance companies when they deny treatment and we understand that eating disorders affect everyone differently. If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder and you are being denied benefits for treatment by your insurance, please call Kantor & Kantor for a free consultation or fill out our online contact form.

We understand, and we can help.