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Mississippi middle school offers girls shapewear to address 'body image' concerns

"Good intentions... but kind of ill-conceived."
Courtesy Ashley Heun

One Mississippi middle school is backing off its plan to offer shapewear to girls dealing with "body image" issues.

When Ashley Heun’s daughter brought home a school letter requesting her signature, she read it several times before realizing she wasn’t mistaken.

“I decided words and social media is a good tool and I would use that to rally the troops to change this and to really let the school know how exactly tone-deaf it was,” Heun, 45, told TODAY.

The letter asks parents for their permission for school counselors to offer middle school girls shapewear and bras. The school has since ended the program.Courtesy Ashley Heun

In the letter from Southaven Middle School sent Tuesday, parents received information about helping girls develop a healthy body image. The school's solution? Shapewear, in part. The parents were given the option to choose whether their daughters “may receive the healthy literature, shapewear, bras, and other products” through the school’s counselors.

If the parent decided to opt in, more information was needed, like sizes.

Ashley Heun and her daughter, Caroline.

The Southaven, Mississippi stay-at-home mom of a teenage girl and 11-year-old son said she felt “really angry” and wrote the school with her concerns.

In response, Heun heard back on Wednesday and received an apology in person from the principal at school, who told her they have decided to cancel this program.

DeSoto County Schools confirmed that it has since been “discontinued.”

“The district has been made aware of the parental permission form sent to parents by Southaven Middle School,” Lauren Margeson, the DeSoto County Schools’ assistant to the superintendent, told TODAY.

“District officials understand how this type of information causes serious concern from parents,” Margeson explained.

Heun felt that the school had "really good intentions" in sending out the information but felt it was "kind of ill conceived" and wanted to change that. She added that body image issues affect boys, too.

Since sharing her concerns over social media, Heun said she received more support, including hearing from body positivity advocate and podcaster Julia Parzyck, who she said plans to reach out to the principal and work on "putting better information out there for all children."

Heun said this experience has empowered her to "advocate for any girl who feels 'less than' because of her body size."

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