Tuesday, 22 September 2009

It wasn't like this when I was at school


Took daughter and friend out for a quick pizza after school. Sitting there looking at them, both 13 years old, with full make up on, I asked them if there was much of a queue for the loos to re-touch the paint. Oh yes, they said. There is, apparently, an informal system, where whole years go in at a time. Year 11, queens of the school as the sixth form presumably make up elsewhere, get first dibs at 12.15. Daughter, who is year 9 (12.30 is their appointed time at the mirrors) said she was in there leaning on the wall waiting for a friend, as the year 11s were there, leaning at the mirrors, re-touching, when a year 9 came in, and wiggled her way through to the mirrors to start wielding the mascara. As one, the year 11s stopped talking, and turned and looked at the year 9, who scuttled off. Once she'd gone, conversation, and re-touching, restarted.

Good grief. I can remember passing an older girl on the stairs in my time at school, pinned in to the corner by Miss Hansford the Dragon Art Mistress, being torn off a strip for wearing eye shadow. Girls caught would be marched off to sick bay to scrub their faces. Innocent as the dawn, spots all aglow, we would face the school day. Not a trace of mascara, not a whiff of lipgloss.

Told the girls this, who announced as one that if they were not allowed to wear make up, they would leave and find another school. They NEEDED make up, they both announced firmly. Reflected on the irony of this, as there they sat, dewy skinned both (well, the occasional spot, but nothing too terrible), bright eyed and glossy, not a square inch unmade up, opposite me, no longer dewy skinned and galloping towards fifty, pretty much in the same unmade state as I was at school, though now it is my wrinkles that face the day, all unadorned.

6 comments:

Val said...

They just have no idea...Ok I think this might be a hint that in four years time when my eldest hits the teen years I might be on a hiding to nothing banning the face paint then?
and as I shall have passed the dreaded 5 0 by this stage they'll be no hope for me either... lol (only 'cos it's better than crying)

actually I found there is no hope for me anyway as I made the mistake of scrubbing my contact lenses (I know a toothbrush is not approved as a lense cleaner...but my goodness it worked)and the world became clear and unbelievably bright and all was well until I made a huge mistake and I glanced in the mirror.............
and my obviously long held fantasy of how I looked was brutally corrected... gulp
I now need rose fog tinted lenses or possibly a mask?

Liz said...

We were allowed to wear make-up at my comprehensive school in England in the 1970s. I think we all started wearing it at 13. I know I didn't really want to, but had to to fit in - you know how these things work! I stopped wearing it when I went to university, and now only wear it if I'm going to a function.

We could wear jewellery too, and didn't have to wear uniform. Girls could wear trousers, shorts, whatever they liked. It was a bit like Grange Hill without the rules! I find today's schools, with their uniform rules, a bit draconian, tbh.

Gillian said...

We were allowed to wear makeup at high school in the early 80's, but it rarely went much beyond eyeliner and lipgloss.
We had a straightforward uniform which I didn't mind, though I'd have preferred to wear trousers if I'd been allowed. Blazers were optional for girls but I wore one was I liked all the pockets for putting stuff in. Never saw anything wrong with school uniform and it does give a break from pressure to wear certain labels and fashions, at least during school hours.

Jane Badger said...

Oh Val - you are my sister under the skin. I used to do my face in a dim mirror and then one day I used one in a better light... WHO was that person looking out? SURELY not me? When you find a supplier of rose tinted lenses let me know.

Liz - you were lucky as far as uniform went! I was at school in the 1970s too, and when I started we had to wear gym tunics, and gym knickers, possibly one of the least flattering garments known to woman.

I agree with you Gillian though. Uniform does stop a lot of designer shenanigans. It's bad enough with daughter getting ready to go to dance, which takes an hour to make sure she looks just right. School is a mere 30 minutes...

We were allowed to wear trousers in the sixth form, but not in the lower school. When we went comprehensive we had a delightful brown and yellow uniform. It's taken me years to be able to wear brown after that experience.

Gillian said...

Yes, at sixth form (which was a different school, as the village school didn't have a 6th form) we didn't have to wear uniform. There were rules on nothing too skimpy, basically.

One of the boarders attempted to dye her bleached hair back to brown and it came out purple, which scandalized the more conservative teachers. She was banned from leaving her form house until someone could get more dye from town later than day. Our Classics teacher reckoned she brightened the place up, with her purple hair. Mind you, he didn't have a black robe to wear at end of term assembly, because his had been eaten by mice. Mr Paxton was a tad eccentric...

pullein-thompson-archive said...

When I was in school from the early-mid 1990s, we were not allowed to wear make up either. Same goes for jewellery, though a couple of people did have pierced ears, and they allowed small stud earrings. Nobody had other body piercings (nose, tongue, lip etc) and these would certainly have not been tolerated.

Nobody dared dye their hair - in fact I dont remember anyone doing so. I do remember someone (a male) being dragged off for having their hair too long (cheekbone length). The consequence: the school nurse gave him a hair cut with a pair of scissors.

As for uniform, well boys could wear trousers throughout the year, and girls had to wear skirts throughout winter. Girls had to wear a green (any old green one just as long as there was no logo visible) cardigan, boys had to wear a green jumper. Everyone had to wear a school tie. Then when I was in year 9 they changed the rules: everyone had to wear the same green jumper (with school logo), tie (though tbh the jumper covered so half the time you didnt bother). Girls now had the option to wear black trousers: either just in the winter or throughout the year.

If you did go to Year 12 or above, then the same uniform rule applied, except now you were allowed to wear a black (with school logo) jumper instead of a green.

PE: well if you did gym you had to wear a tunic, otherwise for any other sport it was a green skirt and a white (no logo) polo shirt. They were less strict with the boys, they were allowed to wear any old white tshirt (nike etc). If any girl did that, they got told off and told to wear lost property ones. Tennis was the only thing they relaxed on: you could wear either a white skirt or white shorts. Our school was in the mountains, even in the freezing winter when it was -4C outside, us girls still had to wear our skirts.

In fact as far as our uniform wearing goes we were pretty well behaved!