The Mirror is reporting that a westcountry school has issued an apology for promoting fitness classes for teenage girls with a slogan suggesting it would “help you look amazing in that dress” at the prom.
The Richard Lander School in Truro, Cornwall, has removed the poster advertising girls-only Zumba classes for Year 11 pupils, which claimed it could make them “fit for prom”.
The message also included photos of pupils posing on the red carpet on prom night.
One former pupil at the school for 11 to 16-year-olds said: “I think it’s awful, and I know from experience that girls in Year 11 feel bad enough about themselves and don’t need a poster that implies you’re too fat to go to the prom or that you need to be beautiful to even go to the prom at all…”
The school’s head of PE Debbie Cain said the poster was not intended to cause offence and was part of a national campaign to encourage girls to get more involved with sport.
She said the idea had been discussed with Year 11 girls who thought the sessions would be a good way to “de-stress”, have fun together and improve their fitness to feel positive for GCSE exams in the summer.
The school said in a Facebook message on Saturday night: “The ‘Fit for Prom’ poster has been removed by senior management, who were unaware it had been posted.
“We apologise for any offence caused to students and parents\carers and can assure you that the teacher who has organised the session in response to student requests would never have wished to cause upset or insult.”
Support for the poster came from a Year 11 student who wrote: “I see no problem with this poster or anything to do with the whole gesture.
“It’s a nice way to have fun during exams. I think the wording on the poster has been extremely misunderstood as there is no pressure whatsoever for any of us to lose weight or anything along those lines!!”
This is an attention grabbing story but behind it there seem to be some quite complex issues.
Firstly, it seems to classes were put on with the support of the Year 11 girls and at least some seem to be comfortable with the wording on the poster.
Second, we know there is a significant issue with lack of activity amongst teenage girls and the poster gave them a reason to get involved with these exercise classes.
Thirdly, exercise does help with body shape (i.e. it wasn’t as if it was a totally ridiculous or random claim).
So are we at a stage where we can no longer say “exercise if you want to lose weight” because we might cause offence to people who have weight issues?
Or, despite all that, was this poster all just too clumsy to be acceptable?
Please give us your feedback in the comments or via Twitter…
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