A Wellington intermediate school has scrapped a makeup tutorial class after parents complained that the “outdated” concept sent the wrong messages to young women.
Evans Bay Intermediate said the “Glitz and glamour for girls” class was intended to be a fun and inventive session for its co-ed students to express their creativity, talk about puberty, and learn the difference between “sexually provocative” and “appropriate” appearances.
It was an elective class offered to students alongside language, sport, writing, technology and creative subjects that will take place each Friday.
A relation of a 12-year-old student said the electives were a great chance for students to participate in interesting activities, but she felt the glitz and glamour class was “outdated and wrong on every level”.
The advertisement for the class was sent to parents on Friday. It read: “Come and learn the basics on how to look good with a few clever tips and shortcuts”, followed by a gear/equipment requirement: “a mirror, your favourite nail polish and makeup. If you don’t have any, just bring some attitude”.
One of the women who spoke out against the class said she was mostly concerned that the school considered the class met the criteria to become an elective.
“Why couldn’t they have offered something more artistic, like learning nail art, or theatre makeup and face paint?”
The 12-year-old’s relative, who did not want to be named, said that, with the #MeToo movement so prominent, she was perplexed to know what the school was thinking of telling its girls “you’ll look better with makeup on”.
“This one class is like how to be a great housewife – well, along those lines. It wasn’t OK.”
The woman had not made contact with the school directly, but said she knew of parents who had. “Parents are up in arms about it, and have voiced their opinions.”
The school’s board of trustees chairwoman, Shelly Reet, said the school had listened to concerns from parents and the community, and withdrawn the class.
It had not decided on a replacement.
She said the concept was built on recommendations from year 8 students, who had been asked by teachers what they wanted to gain out of their education to help create the list of elective classes.
“It’s done for the purpose of increasing that engagement with learning. For it to be bad-mouthed, it’s not a very positive start to the year.”
A number of students would be left disappointed by the removal of the subject, she said.
She was troubled by the fact parents had spoken to media about their concerns, rather than going directly with the school, and felt the dispute had been “sensationalised”.
However, she admitted the way the subject was advertised to students was “unfortunate”, and would have included male students.
Greek dancing will also be pulled from the school’s choice of electives, due to a lack of interest.