Marva's blog: Here's looking at you kid

My son’s secondary school have removed all mirrors from the bathrooms. 

Apparently, this is to discourage the students from wearing make-up, and to prevent them worrying about their appearance. Is, however, the removal of all mirrors ridiculous and a step-too-far?

It made me wonder - does self-confidence truly start in the home, or does it begin in the classroom? And is the responsibility of school’s to make sure that its students not feel insecure about how they look, or is it down to parents to nurture, and steadfastly and consistently solidify well-being and self-love in their children - especially as they encounter perhaps the most challenging time accepting their ever-changing bodies, thoughts and feelings?

In my opinion, mirrors are not simply about vanity. They are also an ally, and know all of your secrets.

I was about 14 years old, when, amidst a huge crush on Justin-with-the-hazel-eyes, I starting to develop an incredibly itchy rash on both elbows and my lips.  The rashes then became incredibly sore and weepy, eventually crusting over and falling off.  To my horror, in their place remained white patches of skin that would never again recover its pigment.   

This brand-new additional ‘ugliness’, now adding to the utter awkwardness that I was already experiencing as a teenager, led to quite a devastating time.  I became deft at disguising the white patches with inventive make up techniques, checking my reflection innumerable times a day, between classes. Although I had received not positive assurances about what had happened, I now knew how to be pretty and stop the stares and comments. Over twenty-five years later, only the people closest to me have seen me without full make up. 

The point is, self-image is a deeper and wider chasm than we ever truly comprehend. Its ever-moving Jenga-like components never let us stay one-hundred per cent confident, all of the time.

Would not having mirrors at school have changed anything positively for me, and does it change anything for children who are struggling with the way they just ‘are’? Because consciously or otherwise, each of us reflect back to one another what we think of them, anyway, and the expressions and words of another person can and will at times reinforce the very things we think are the worst about ourselves.

Maybe the answer is in how and what we teach our children about where their value lies; because they are indeed, the reflection of everything that we speak into them and show them about how to love themselves and others. But am I proving myself a hypocrite, for not going bare-faced every day, and showing my son that it’s ok to be oneself, in your full glory? Hm, it’s tricky isn’t it?

So, perhaps the school has got this totally right, and all of the mirrors a student needs, are right at home.

Marva is single parent of a 15 year old boy. She has worked in the City for 18 years and is currently a Financial Operations Team Leader for a Global Investment Manager.

Category: A Citymother's Diary

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