High School Principal Institutes Sexist & Size-Biased Dress Code, Then 'Apologizes'

Aug 25, 2017 at 2:47 p.m. ET
Image: John Raedle/Getty

A South Carolina high school principal has apparently lost touch with reality.

On Wednesday, Heather Taylor, principal of Stratford High School in South Carolina, held some, um, uplifting assemblies with 9th and 10th graders (and by "uplifting assemblies," we mean "total shamefest horror shows") to chat about the school's dress code.

Unfortunately for Taylor, her shocking announcement — in which she essentially fat-shames female students  — was caught in an audio recording that was subsequently shared with WCBD news.

In the announcement, Taylor tells the girls of the school that they're forbidden to wear leggings "unless you are a size 0 or 2." What? What?

More: Sixth-Grader Fights Back Against School's Sexist Dress Code

Principal Taylor allegedly continued, "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."

Not surprisingly, her words infuriated the school community — and the internet. Parents began (rightfully) berating Taylor on social media, calling her out for her blatant body-shaming of children.

One student, Allison Veazy, told WCBD she is in shock about Taylor's vicious message.

“It was really hurtful, 'cause I felt like my size made me look disgusting towards someone in the clothes that I wear,” Veazy said. “I wear leggings outside of school and I wear leggings when I go and hang out with my friends, and to think that someone would think that I look like a stuffed sausage — that was kind of hurtful.”

One mother of an 11th-grader, Lacy Thompson-Harper, posted a Facebook message (shared with Scary Mommy) about the principal's remarks.

“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,” Thompson-Harper said. “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. By the end of the conversation with Mrs. Taylor, she agreed to apologize to the 11th and 12th grade students during their assemblies, and to call back both the 9th and 10th grade students and apologize. Is this enough? I don’t know. But, I feel that parents need to know what was said by a woman who is an educator, and is supposed to be a role model for these kids."

And Taylor did indeed apologize (somewhat) today; she shared with People that she met with the student body and explained that her intention was not “to hurt or offend any of my students in any way.”

But Thompson-Harper isn't sure an apology is enough to make up for the harm done by Taylor's crass comments. “Right now," she wrote, "I’m a very angry parent, with a very angry daughter.”

We wish this were an isolated incident, but we're hearing more and more about antiquated, sexist dress codes that target young women — and it's not just happening in schools.

Recently (and notoriously), girls wearing basic Spandex leggings were turned away from their United Flight because of their "inappropriate" attire. United's response to widespread backlash after the incident was to harp on the fact that these were children of United employees. Still, we're pretty sure the keyword in that sentence — and any sentence policing young girls' choices of attire — is "children." Do we need to hire Chelsea Clinton to say it for us? Just let kids be kids, please.