A high school principal in South Carolina began the new school year with a controversial fashion statement about girls who wear leggings.
During a discussion about the dress code at a 10th-grade assembly earlier this week, Heather Taylor, principal of Stratford High School in Goose Creek, S.C., reportedly told students that girls bigger than size 2 look fat in leggings.
She has since said she didn’t mean to offend any of her students.
“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 2, and you wear something like that, even though you are not fat, you look fat,” a woman identified as Taylor told the students.
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She also offered advice on how to wear leggings.
“(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,” she allegedly said.
According to the school’s website, leggings, tights, yoga pants and spandex must be worn under clothing that covers to mid-thigh.
The principal’s comments spread on social media and an audio recording of the assembly was given to local media.
“I’m not a size zero and I kind of felt targeted because of my size,” Stratford sophomore Allison Veazey told WCBD in Charleston.
“It was really hurtful because I felt like my size made me look, you know, disgusting … in the clothes that I wear. 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.”
Angry parents sounded off on the high school’s Facebook page on a post now deleted. Their concerns were reported by WCIV in Charleston.
“You’re meant to be a public figure that young women can look up to, yet you make comments body shaming teen females? I’m disappointed but not surprised,” one woman wrote.
“(I) hope you actually own up to your words and realise (sic) just how badly you might’ve hurt these young girls.”
Wrote another woman, who identified herself as a graduate of the school: “This is absolutely appalling. Shame on you for body shaming. Ms. Taylor you owe the entire student body an apology. You are suppose to set a good example for all the students. You failed.”
Some people defended the principal, one woman writing that the criticism was coming from “a bunch of Facebook moms with nothing better to do than to flame probably Stratford’s best principal yet.”
Crystal Sivertsen, who has two daughters at the high school, told WCSC in Charleston she was “appalled” by some of the Facebook posts criticizing Taylor.
She said her daughters told her Taylor “was not singling anyone out, she was not calling anyone fat, it was not meant to be derogatory,” Sivertsen told the TV station.
Taylor said in a statement distributed Thursday by the Berkeley County School District that she met with each class in the school to talk about what she said at the 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.
“After speaking with our students and receiving their support, I am confident that, together, we are ready to move forward and have a wonderful year.”