A school in the UK has come under fire for replacing mirrors in the girls’ restroom with “motivational” posters including themes about beauty, which some parents believed was “provocative”.
Christopher Whitehead Language College’s principal wrote statements such as, “”Beauty is meaningless without intelligence,” and “Dear girls, Makeup is a dangerous substance. You’ll feel unattractive without it once you start applying it “on the walls of the toilet.
Additional statements include, “If all girls started wearing minimal makeup and comfy clothes, boys would have no choice but to fall in love with girls due of their natural attractiveness.”
Parents complained that the signs were giving the wrong message.
“Far from motivating the girls, these messages are patronizing and victim-blaming girls who do want to wear makeup,” one parent told The Daily Mail.
“Saying that makeup is a harmful drug, and that it’s addictive, saying that boys won’t start to like you unless you take makeup off, you’ll feel ugly if you don’t wear it – I think how they’ve gone about it is not right and they should have let parents know what they were doing,” another parent told BBC Hereford and Worcester.
“I think what needs to change is misogyny, is the male gaze, is the objectification of women,” journalist Ateh Jewel argued on Britain’s “This Morning” in response to the school controversy. “Makeup is not the problem. Makeup is about expressing yourself, being joyful… Those slogans are very medieval about attracting a mate. Makeup and beauty and wellness is about the inside out.”
The school’s head teacher, Neil Morris, said the posters had initially been hung up to address “a period of misuse,” but admitted that the signs would have been more properly placed in the classrooms.
“Mirrors have been removed temporarily after a period of misuse where the toilets became a congregational social area with older students blocking the path to toilets, whilst they socialised, often late to lessons,” he told Birmingham Live.
“All students have been written to. The English department has used this as an opportunity to provide some argumentative discursive letter writing. They put some provocative posters up in the one toilet area in their corridor before the lesson.”
“This has produced some ‘frenzied’ powerful writing and debate,” he added. “With hindsight, the posters should have been placed in their classroom area, not in one toilet.”
Morris said a “very productive” meeting had been held with students and two parents following the controversy and that the student council is “being challenged to come up with an action plan.”