Two weeks ago, a 9-year-old girl was pulled from her class at Brookhaven Elementary School in Brookhaven, Mississippi, and sent to in-school suspension, TODAY reports. School officials said her outfit — a T-shirt and gray cotton pants — was too “formfitting,” but these claims left the girl’s uncle with one big question: “Does my niece’s round belly OFFEND you?”
In a now-viral Facebook post, the girl’s uncle, Robbie Nettles, took on the elementary school that he says shamed his young niece. The post includes photos of both his niece’s first outfit, which initially led to the 9-year-old being plucked from class, and the second outfit, which her mother brought for her to change into — and which the school alsodeemed unsatisfactory. According to local newspaper The Daily Leader, the school’s dress code forbids clothing that is either “overly baggy” or “overly tight,” but Nettles feels that the punishment his niece received has far more to do with her body type — and how she, personally, fits into clothes — than her outfit.
“Apparently, it is acceptable to body shame a 9-year-old,” Nettles wrote in his Facebook post. “My niece may not be the ideal weight, but she was not showing anything inappropriate. It sickens me to imagine my sweet niece going to a school that cares more about her weight than what’s in her mind.”
According to Nettles’s post, another girl in his niece’s class — who has a similar body type — was given the same treatment.
Overwhelmingly, commenters on Nettles’s Facebook post (which has now been shared more than 46,000 times) agreed that the school’s punishment was unjust and ultimately harmful to the young girl’s self-esteem. “This is targeted bullying in my eyes and needs to be addressed,” one commenter even wrote.
Despite the backlash on social media, however, the school still believes they made the right decision. Brookhaven School District Superintendent Ray Carlock told The Daily Leader that the school’s officials followed proper procedure “to the letter.”