So I don’t often read The Mirror, it’s too closely related to The Sun and it’s mostly just scary fear-mongering bullshit you could pick apart for hate speech as easily as one could pick apart flaky pastry but I saw an article about a school in Manchester that are getting tougher on their makeup ban by having teachers come prepared with wet wipes to rub the makeup right off the faces of their students. Now, as British people, we like to fall into two polarised camps about the most inane shit (A 5p plastic bag charge is reasonable and environmentally conscious/ TAKE THAT SMUG CASHIER OUTSIDE AND KICK HIS TEETH IN FOR CHARGING ME FIVE PENCE) so obviously, this has the same level of division – some say it’s entirely understandable and students shouldn’t wear makeup of any sort and some say it’s unfair to enforce a series of rules designed only to affect female students that discriminates against them on an appearance basis. Where do I fall? Guess.
Now, I’m going to regale you with some more personal experience stories, because that is clearly very interesting. In my school days, I was not a feminist, I believed a woman had all the same rights as a man so by that definition I was but I could be prone to some deep-rooted casual sexism that a young man picks up in a male-dominated culture. One such sexist belief reflected itself when our school tightened the rules on makeup to include absolutely no foundation or mascara of any sort, plain face, aside from brushed hair and clean teeth, that’s your face done. The female body of students, or at least a good chunk of them, organised a sit-in protest on the playground and my initial reaction, at that time, was to laugh thinking “How pathetic, they’re really going to waste everyone’s time just so they can keep their precious face paint? Morons”. I thought it insignificant, not worth debate and when the protest fall apart after one particularly strong-worded ultimatum from a teacher, I laughed my teenage ass off. This big protest, I thought, fell flat at the first hurdle, well that says something for the people stupid enough to get involved in it that they wouldn’t defend it more stubbornly, seems even they know they’re time-wasters. Looking back on that, that’s not fair of me to say that about them and though the protest ultimately didn’t even last a day, the cause was valid, they were students not wanting to get into trouble at school is all. Well, allow me now to make amends.
Now, it may come as a surprise to some of you but when a woman wears make up or revealing attire, it isn’t always for the attention of others, especially when she is young. As a teenage girl hitting the ever so lovely stage of puberty, that girl’s face and body undergo a lot of changes, some that will empower her and some that will make her feel awful. Oh hey, that goofy roundish chubby child face has slimmed out? I look good… except it is covered in enough spots to look like a dot-to-dot of the Mona Lisa. Good thing I have this AMAZING PRODUCT THAT SUBTLY HIDES ALL OF THOSE IMPERFECTIONS… only that’s not allowed. You might say well hey, boys don’t get concealer, they have to endure a puberty of strained voices and greasy faces, why shouldn’t girls? Well, there’s not as much pressure on boys for their appearance as there is for girls, teenage boys aren’t supposed to be hot yet by societal standards, we accept that there are cute boys and hunky men but teenage boys are hideous and everyone is cool with that, aside from the odd joke. Teenage girls? Well that’s when a girl stops being a girl to society and becomes sexualised, it’s when people start mentally undressing her and wondering what kind of woman she’ll be. With men, it is not as obvious at what stage they are in their development, we don’t exactly all stand around like “Jim’s grown a few inches down there… he’s looking good” but we do notice that suddenly Ginger Katie got boobs and now everyone’s trying to convince her they never once called her Ginger Minge. The pressure mounts and with puberty varying from person to person, women can much more readily be left feeling weird and excluded than teen boys. All teen boys, bar the exceptionally lucky and unlucky, are spotty-faced sweat machines with weird voices but teen girls? Casey got hot, Sophie got super spotty, Tara currently has the biggest bust in all Year Ten, they are compared and criticised by their peers and, in a way, by their teachers. No, I don’t mean in a pervy way, let me clarify.
A female student who wears make-up is seen as masking something, as beguiling people with regards to her looks and depending on the varying degrees, some assume she is either just wearing a little to look good or a lot because she’s a full-on sexual deviant. The same is true of girls who wear short skirts at school, is she just a girl in a skirt or is she trying to catch the eyes of the boys? The students ponder this but so do teachers, who will then criticise overly… glamourous(?) students for “distracting the students”. This, this I hate, and no not because I enjoy oggling teenagers, don’t be so crude. If you send a female student away from a lesson to rub makeup off and wash her face, you send her out of class for ten minutes and that’s ten minutes of lesson time she’s missed and a lesson learnt in that your self-confidence in your appearance is less important than this class. I do so hate the school system for breaking down individuality into “Learn subject material and learn to regurgitate it on cue, the more you can memorise, the more you’re worth” and I understand arguments in defense of uniform appearance but this gets worse. The makeup, bad but worse than this, the classic “Go home and change, you are distracting the boys”
1. I would rather discriminate against one girl than try to teach the future generation of men that they should not stare up skirts
2. Rather than punish the boys for perving on their fellow student and allowing themselves to be distracted from their education, it makes more sense to take you out of school for an hour because your education means less to me than theirs
3. I am telling you to change your appearance FOR THEIR SAKE. I am teaching you that your body is not your own, it is subject to the thoughts and perversions of men. If your appearance distracts a man, you are at fault.
With the pressure on girls to look good, they try just that, be it to feel good or to fit in, but we pin blame on them for trying too hard or not trying enough. Concealer and foundation, which do not distract a man, are not attempts to be fashionable but to cover over spots and flaws they know they will be bullied for having. I was a lucky youth, I wasn’t particularly spotty and where I was spotty, fell under my fringe so no fucker could tell most of the time, but if I had a face covered in enough spots to make a dalmation vomit, I’d want something to remedy the solution too. Don’t tell me Clearasil and Oxy and whatever are the answer, you try that shit, it takes six weeks to kick in and all it does is make the bastards a shade less red. Awesome, guess I’ll invest in a good paper bag. Women are forced into a lifelong beauty pageant, whilst school for boys is a battleground, school for girls is a Miss Universe contest so no shit they want to cover up that zit that looks like it needs its own postcode. Boys, we just comb our hair, wash our junk and spray deodorant, that is it, that is as hot as we can hope for but nobody gives a shit. Girls, unless teen you look like how films portray teen girls (As basically “You’ll hope I’m 18 or you’ll feel so weird watching me strut around in shorts”), you can bet cruelty will circle around you.
Oh, and one more thing, can we talk about how female teachers, in makeup, say makeup is unacceptable in a school? Teachers have their own dress code sure, but if we’re saying that makeup is a distraction, why is it only a distraction on teen girls? Doesn’t distract boys when teachers wear it, ever thought maybe teen boys don’t care? If they do, why are teen boys never challenged? This is my biggest thing, why was I never challenged? I recall one incident in which a student at my school, whom was quite attractive, had water spilt down her shirt and it revealed the bra she had on underneath. The teacher ushered her out and told her to go get a clean shirt and stop causing a scene and that she shouldn’t be wearing a bra that’d show so clearly under a white shirt. Yeah, her UNDERWEAR was not in line with school code, for being a bold colour that’d show up should she spill water down herself. She left, teacher looks to the lads who are of course discussing her bra and I happened to be sat near this group. Do we get told off or told to grow up? Nope, just “Alright class, settle down, let’s continue…”. WHAT? I didn’t care then but I care now, why aren’t they being called out on sexualising a fellow student and discussing her in an inappropriate manner but she’s a trouble-maker for wearing underwear? She didn’t start a wet t-shirt contest, she didn’t plan to perform a burlesque routine, she just happened to go “I’ll wear the black bra today”, that was that. She wasn’t distracting the boys, the boys distracted themselves with a lengthy discourse about tits, challenge THAT behaviour.
In summary, I don’t see makeup and short skirts as being a huge distraction, if anything making them banned in schools makes them a distraction when someone doesn’t adhere to that rule, as all rule-breaking behaviours are. Boys are not animals, if they care about their education they will not let blue eye shadow detract from that and if they don’t care well then hey, you are either a teacher/parent, make them care. If boys are so easily distracted by a short skirt, rein them in, don’t teach them that women are to blame for their minds straying, teach them how to focus, teach them that they’re going to encounter makeup and short skirts and attractive women for the rest of their lives, they can’t let themselves be distracted by it and they can’t think it acceptable to stare at their peers like they’re rotisserie chickens. Let teenage girls be teenage girls, let them build confidence in their appearance and in turn, let teenage boys know the difference between right and wrong.