Opinion Brief

The school that banned mirrors to teach girls a lesson

In a controversial effort to curb teen vanity, a school in England prohibits makeup and removes mirrors from the girls' bathrooms

Talk about plain dealing. The 14- to 16-year-old girls at Shelley College in West Yorkshire, England have been banned from wearing makeup, and are checked daily for offending eyeliner and rouge. (Teachers are reportedly armed with "makeup removal kits.") Going even further, the school has removed the mirrors in the girls' bathrooms to curb what's perceived as an obsession with vanity. "There comes a point when you need to stop teachers spending half an hour in the day talking to girls about their makeup," says head teacher John McNally. "It is more sensible to say it's not allowed." Is this a good way to help kids focus on learning over looks?

Girls could benefit from restraints: This could be "a good time for girls to learn that they look fine even when their faces aren't coated in makeup," says Judy M. at Care2. I've taught high school classes where appearances were a huge distraction. The girls were "constantly trying to sneak a look at mirrors and fix their makeup" when they should have been learning.
"British school bans makeup and mirrors"

Hmmm, I'm not so sure: "Teenagers have enough trouble accepting their looks," says Margaret Hartmann at Jezebel. "It seems a bit cruel to take away something that could make them feel a bit more comfortable." Wearing a uniform is one thing, but being told what you can and cannot put on your face is a very personal matter. Still, it could work: Reportedly, in the post-makeup era, one Shelley student said, "Nobody is no prettier or uglier, we all just look normal."
"School removes mirrors, bans teen girls from wearing makeup"

This solution doesn't get at the root of the problem: "Instead of prescriptively banning makeup and mirror-gazing, it'd be awesome if the school put those resources into teaching strong self-esteem for all its students," says Sierra at Babble. Girls are obsessed with their appearance because of "social pressure, media pressure, and a natural fascination with [their] radically changing bod[ies]." Removing mirrors is unlikely to change that. "It's just going to make it harder for [a girl] to check her hair in the middle of the day."
"Will a school's ban on mirrors help teen girls focus?"

Recommended

The Week contest: Floating ice
Feet.
Feature

The Week contest: Floating ice

6 outstanding homes built in the 1940s
House
Feature

6 outstanding homes built in the 1940s

The Check-In: 2022's best and worst airports, and more
Airplanes.
Feature

The Check-In: 2022's best and worst airports, and more

The Week contest: Walker robber
A man with a walker.
Feature

The Week contest: Walker robber

Most Popular

The rumored reason why AOC is facing a House ethics probe
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shows off her infamous "Tax the Rich" dress at the 2021 Met Gala.
dress drama

The rumored reason why AOC is facing a House ethics probe

Gen Z congressman can't rent apartment in Washington
Incoming Gen Z congressman Maxwell Frost
Frostbitten

Gen Z congressman can't rent apartment in Washington

Gas is now cheaper in the U.S. than it was a year ago
Gas prices
Gas Holiday

Gas is now cheaper in the U.S. than it was a year ago