A Ban on Makeup and Mirrors in High School: Helpful or Extreme?

By Anne-Marie Guarnieri, Allure magazine

High School: the words alone conjure up memories of extreme awkwardness, intense self-consciousness, and a deep, deep desire to grow up and get out of there. But there was one place I always felt somewhat normal, somewhere I could hang out with my friends and escape the myriad indignities of being a teenager, and that place was the school restroom.

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We would meet in the second-floor bathroom, stand around the cloudy mirror and share lipgloss, spray a lot of Aqua Net around our heads, spackle on more concealer, and talk about our lives. (I hate to demystify it for any men who may be reading this, but these restroom rituals remain pretty much unchanged even in adulthood. I mean, sometimes we're talking about you, but mostly we're talking about ourselves.)

So I have mixed feelings about the following bit of news: A secondary school in West Yorkshire, England has not only banned makeup, but recently removed the mirrors from its restrooms.

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Additionally, teachers have been given makeup removal kits to make sure students obey the rules. The idea seems to come from a good place, sort of like having students wear uniforms: The theory goes that makeup is a distraction and if no one wears it, that puts everyone on an equal playing field. Says one of the students, 14-year-old Rebecca Mannifield, "It's okay that we're all in it together, you realize nobody is no prettier or uglier, we all just look normal."

But is banning all makeup and mirrors outright a little…extreme? You can encourage girls to spend less time worrying about their appearance but I'm not sure you can ask them to forget about it altogether. Turning lipgloss and mirrors into contraband may make them more highly prized commodities than ever-after all, nothing preoccupies me more than the things I know I can't have. I'd probably obsess about my appearance much more than I do now if I knew I couldn't check in on it from time to time. It makes sense to set limits and to start a conversation about the role that vanity and self-regard should take in a young woman's life. But forbidding makeup and mirrors altogether just sends them out of sight, not out of mind.

What do you think-do you think teenagers are better off without mirrors and makeup?

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