Melissa Barber’s teenage daughter was allegedly publicly body-shamed by a teacher before being kicked out of class. According to Barber — who shared on Facebook the humiliation that her 17-year-old endured, along with a photo of her outfit — her daughter was told, “Your boobs are bigger than most girls’, and you are gonna have to try harder,” referencing the way the teen was dressed.
In her post, which has gone viral with more than 40,000 shares, Barber says that her daughter Kelsey Paige Anderson, a student at Joplin High School, in Joplin, Missouri, was called “plus-size” and told that “bustier women need to wear clothing that covers their cleavage” in front of the entire class — despite the fact that Kelsey was wearing a long-sleeved shirt that did not show any cleavage.
Barber shares that Kelsey was escorted out of class for violating the school’s dress code and sent to the principal’s office. She says that Kelsey was “embarrassed and horrified.”
“She was embarrassed and humiliated by a teacher in front of an entire classroom of students. She was let down by a principal who should have listened," Barber told Yahoo Style.
After the incident, Barber met with school officials. However, the principal allegedly defended the teacher’s actions. “She is there to learn,” Barber wrote in her post. “This whole time she was missing out on an education while we were all sitting in a room discussing her boobs. How often does this happen to your sons? Seems like another way to keep girls uneducated."
Yahoo Style was unable to reach Joplin High School officials for comment. When asked for more information on the dress code, Yahoo Style was told to “look it up online” by a finance official.
Barber decided to take her daughter out of school and plans to file a lawsuit against Joplin High School.
“Kelsey is a confident, strong young lady,” Barber tells Yahoo Style. “She wants to graduate high school. She wants to go to college. She just wants to finish school. But now, Kelsey is missing school. Missing out on her opportunity for an education. All because of the size of her breasts.”
Barber’s post has sparked conversation over the sexualisation of teen girls. Schools tend to prioritise the male students’ education over the female students’, and girls often get in trouble for outfits that are deemed “distractions” to male students.
Barber tells Yahoo Style that she is overwhelmed by the support that she and Kelsey have received from friends and strangers alike.
“My daughter has received so much positive support,” she says. “I have been flooded with thousands of messages of other girls telling their story. It is heartbreaking. Some of these girls are from the same school as my daughter.”
“Change needs to be made. Now," she added.