A school in Worcester, UK, has faced backlash after replacing mirrors in the girls’ bathroom with “motivational” posters. Many parents have deemed it to be offensive and inappropriate.
The head teacher of Christopher Whitehead Language College, Neil Morris, posted messages like
Beauty is nothing without brains” and “Dear girls, Makeup is a harmful drug. Once you start using it, you’ll feel ugly without it” on the walls of the restroom.
Other posters included
If all girls started wearing no makeup and comfortable clothes, guys would have no choice but to fall for girls because of natural beauty.”
Some parents expressed their dissatisfaction with the posters, saying that they were sending the wrong message to the students. One parent told The Daily Mail,
Far from motivating the girls, these messages are patronizing and victim-blaming girls who do want to wear makeup.”
Another parent told BBC Hereford and Worcester,
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.”
Journalist Ateh Jewel also weighed in on the controversy, arguing on Britain’s “This Morning” that the school’s posters were misguided.
I think what needs to change is misogyny, is the male gaze, is the objectification of women,”
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.”
In response to this, Morris explained that the posters had initially been hung up to address “a period of misuse” in the bathroom, which had become a “congregational social area” with older students blocking the path to toilets while they socialized.
Morris admitted that the posters would have been more suitably placed in classrooms, rather than in the bathroom.
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,”
He also said;
“This has produced some ‘frenzied’ powerful writing and debate. With hindsight, the posters should have been placed in their classroom area, not in one toilet.”
Morris added that a “very productive” meeting had been held with students and two parents following the dispute and that the student council is “being challenged to come up with an action plan“.
While the posters have been removed, the incident has sparked a larger conversation about how schools address issues of self-image and self-esteem in their students.