OVER GENERALIZATION ALERT: I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about being a first grade girl that brings out the need to be constantly concerned with appearance. The second grade girls aren’t nearly as bad. My first grade girls like to put on lotion, put on foundation, use mirrors, glue their eyelids back (not exaggerating, this happens), and comb their hair all during class. When I ask students if they can pay attention while staring at themselves in the mirror they unashamedly say yes. When I ask students who they’re trying to impress, as it’s a gender-segregated school and they have no free time anyway, they just look depressed.
The boys can also be pretty bad, but it’s a different sort. The first few weeks of class there’s always a few who stand up in the middle of my lectures and walk to the mirror in the back of the class and check out their profiles, patting down their sideburns until they notice me staring at them and they meekly slink back into their seats. After week two I have no more problems with the male students and their beauty regimen.
But the girls. The girls. Shake your head. Fluff your hair. Flatten down your bangs. Frown at yourself. Pin back your bangs. Apply foundation. Put lotion on your hands. Stare at your cuticles. Squint at yourself in the mirror. Look at your eyes. Poke at your eyelashes. Pop a pimple. Reposition your bangs. Take your comb. Comb your hair. Focus heavily on your bangs. Put on your glasses. Make a face. Take off your glasses. Make a face. “Sneakily” get the girl three rows over to throw her lotion at you. Put more lotion on your hands. Look in the mirror. Make a face.
Now. I appreciate that they’re trying to make themselves look good. I remember being a super awkward high school sophomore myself. I have no issues with people taking pride in their appearance and trying to maintain it – but when you do it to the exclusion of everything else, that’s when we start to have problems.
I have confiscated so many bottles of lotion, combs and mirrors (even broken a few by accident) that I could open my own secondhand store The other day I confiscated my first ever pair of scissors, because a girl was cutting her own hair in the middle of my lecture.
As frustrating as this is, today when I was cutting up papers for my club class and I used my confiscated pair, I did feel oddly victorious. There’s something quite beautiful about taking the same pair of scissors that served as a distraction and using it to create education materials to benefit those same students.
Plus hey! Free scissors.