I’m not even going to post her photo here. The photo is cropped so it’s not supposed to show any identifying features of her face, but it’s still humiliating. You can see her face, enough of it that you can identify some characteristics. And she knows it’s her. Her friends will know. Her family will know. And 46 thousand readers, who have shared the Facebook post and accompanying photos will have seen enough detail, of her shirt, of her hair…
The Facebook post was written with good intention. This young lady’s uncle was devastated that his nine year old niece was suspended from school because her clothes were too tight. She’s a bit overweight, and the initial shirt she was wearing was not revealing or inappropriate, but perhaps a bit snug. She was given in school suspension!! Her mother, trying to appease the administration, sent her to school with a baggier, but still slightly fitted shirt. That shirt was also deemed inappropriate. Perhaps the school could’ve called her mother and explained the situation? Spoken to the child in hushed tones? No…they had to choose an embarrassing consequence. The crime? Having a particular body shape. I’m so sad for her. This was wrong.
But then, it got worse.
The original Facebook poster explained the story and used two photos of his niece in both shirts, to illustrate the ridiculousness of the suspension. I get it. The school was wrong. It’s completely obnoxious and controlling behavior. And amazingly, everywhere in the news this week. From the burkini issue in France to this…men everywhere are telling women what they can and can’t wear.
This is not okay. Enough with the messages that put women at fault for existing. Cut it out.
My second point is this. I get this guy had a huge grievance about what happened to this child whom he loves, but I don’t think putting her photo all over the internet was the way to go. At All. These photos are now there forever. Do you think this is the story she wants to think about in five years when she’s applying for college? Or in ten when she applies for her first job? He definitely has a point to make. But protecting this child’s privacy while making this point would’ve been much more effective. Hold a private meeting with the school. Tell the story without showing the photo. Don’t body shame the child while you’re lecturing people for body shaming her.