A fourth-grade teacher in Georgia has become the subject of public ridicule and debate — and inspired the social media hashtag #teacherbae — for a handful of outfits she recently wore in the classroom.
The controversy started when Paris Monroe shared several #OOTD (outfit of the day) posts to her Instagram, proudly showing off a few fitted, “bodycon” dresses. In another shot, Monroe is wearing a tight pair of jeans and a long-sleeved Charlotte Hornets T-shirt. Though none of the outfits come close to revealing an inappropriate amount of skin, they do cling to the teacher’s generous curves — and therein lies the problem.
Many people on social media lashed out at Monroe, calling the tight threads “inappropriate.” One person, whose Twitter profile pic shows a curvy woman in a skintight outfit, commented, “DEFINITELY inappropriate if you’re a teacher!!” Another user critiqued, “#teacherbae is the hot topic now. Her tight dress is not professional dress. Her body is banging but her clothing choice needs some maturity.” A third user acknowledged that Monroe looked great, but projected onto the students, commenting, “Little boys are pervs by like 2nd grade.”
Other people rose to the teacher’s defense, blaming haters for shaming the woman for her body type, scolding them for sexualizing her attire, and even calling out critics for racism. Monroe deleted the photos, but they’re still circulating online.
“Black women w/ curvy bodies are immediately judged and sexualized for something they have no control over,” tweeted one user. Another put her finger on what she saw as unfair body judgment versus legitimate commentary about outfit choices for teachers. “I see no cleavage, hem to the knee — looks like what we are really criticizing is a body shape,” she wrote. Another person posted the now-infamous photo on Monroe standing in her classroom in a pink bodycon dress spliced with a pic of a random skinny woman in a similarly skin-tight dress, commenting, “I bet y’all would have nothing to say if she was built like this.”
And still other defenders point to one very aspect of the debate that’s hard to argue with: Monroe seems to be a great teacher — she even won “teacher of the month” at her school, according to The Daily Dot.
The subject of appropriate attire for teachers is not a new one. Last month, a community school in Iowa made headlines for providing dress-code “guidelines” to its faculty. The school asked its teachers to wear clothing that’s “acceptable in a business environment,” and deemed things like flip-flops, yoga pants, and graphic T-shirts unacceptable.
Though school officials have not commented on the situation, the court of public opinion remains vocal. On her Instagram, Monroe seems to have responded to the controversy by taking the high road, posting the inspirational quote, “This too shall pass,” and commenting, “My only focus is to remain FOCUSED! #TheBiggerPicture.”
Where do you stand in the #teacherbae debate?