13 Feb 2018

School ditches '1950s' make-up course

5:00 pm on 13 February 2018

A Wellington school has abandoned plans to teach girls how to put on makeup after complaints from parents.

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Photo: 123RF

'Glitz and Glamour for Girls' was one of the electives offered at Evans Bay Intermediate School to 11 and 12 year old students.

Critics have described the course as harking back to the 1950s.

Other course options included paper crafts, fitness skills and ukulele lessons.

Glitz and Glamour offered girls the opportunity to learn tips and tricks for looking good.

Students were to come armed with a mirror, their favourite nail polish, make-up and were to bring their attitude.

But parents spoken to at the school gate weren't impressed.

"You can do it at home, it's more of a free time fun thing to do," said one parent.

"I don't think there's any harm in it, but I also don't think that it's a very scholastic thing to be doing - and it's not that great on the gender role thing," another said.

"I just think the kids at Evans Bay Intermediate are too young for glitz and glamour," was another comment.

The school has emailed parents telling them the class wouldn't be going ahead after a number of people objected.

Board of trustees chair Michelle Reet said the elective's title was a mistake, making the class seem like something it wasn't.

It was supposed to be about self-esteem and looking after your body. It wasn't meant to be gender-exclusive, she insisted.

But the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue said the class was simply out of date.

"I'm pleased they've cancelled it, and maybe they'll rethink other electives in future and really look at the messages it does send to our young girls.

"We can't have these stereotypical old messages which hanker back to the 1950s, days where women were in the kitchen and basically brought up to get married, have children and stay in the kitchen and not have a career," she said.

Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter said such classes were a bad idea.

"It's really reinforcing a certain expectation that young women should be altering their appearance in order to appeal to others.

"Of course there are many women who enjoy dressing up and that's fine, but I don't think girls should be trying to do it at such a young age through the school system."

Evans Bay Intermediate said it was looking at other alternatives.