Beauty-School Backlash: High School Under Fire For Offering Makeup Lessons to Girls

Should lessons on lipstick, even as an elective, be offered alongside algebra?

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What girl doesn’t treasure the memories of her early school days, where favorite teachers, imbued with wisdom, shared insights on engrossing subjects like literature, science and eyeshadow application. Wait, say that again?

While beauty regimes might not have been a part of your adolescent curriculum, some of the 14 and 15-year-old girls at Mount St Mary’s Catholic High School in Leeds, England, are taking courses on cosmetics. The classes — which include a visit from a professional makeup artist, hour-long application tutorials and advice on getting ready for interviews and nights out — are an effort to teach the young girls “how to make a good first impression and also boost their self-confidence,” according to the Telegraph. (Interestingly enough, you might remember that it wasn’t so long ago that another British school was making headlines, but for the exact opposite reason: Shelley College was banning girls from wearing makeup to school in order to combat vanity.)

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Apparently the cosmetics class is elective and girls must receive permission from their parents before attending, but that hasn’t stopped the objections. The Family Education Trust, a conservative campaign organization, complained to the UK tabloid The Mirror, saying, “Parents don’t send their daughters to school to learn how to put on makeup but to receive a decent education. The fact that some of the pupils asked for these lessons is no defense.”

The group has a point. While it seems like the school’s administration had the students’ interests at heart, these courses seem absurd. What sort of message does it send to young girls when they’re being taught lipstick application alongside algebra? In an institution where students are meant to expand and strengthen their minds, why should girls be singled out for lessons on their looks? And why is the school reinforcing the idea that in order for girls to make a good impression in an interview they must have expertly applied makeup?

Bombarded by the women of movies, television, magazines and music, a teenage girl spends almost her entire existence being indoctrinated on how she’s supposed to look. She certainly doesn’t need to learn about it in the classroom.

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