Middle School Teachers Paint Encouraging Words on Girls’ Bathroom Stalls
By Tess Farrand, Staff Writer
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
A group of teachers in Forney, Texas are working against the negativity in today’s culture in a unique way- by looking no further than the bathroom.
Over the summer, teachers of Warren Middle School painted the stalls in the girls’ bathroom with uplifting messages. One stall reads, “Real girls aren’t perfect, perfect girls aren’t real.” Students use the bathroom frequently, in between classes or before and after lunch, making this a fabulous avenue for frequent engagement with kind messages. Joshua Garcia, the new school Principal mentioned, “One of the goals was to create a culture of positivity and welcoming to our students, a place that our students and teachers want to be a part of and want to come to each and every day.”
Creating a space where students feel valued is crucial in a time when bullying and abuse has become increasingly problematic in schools. Kristy Mach, Assistant Principal, commented on the hardships of this time of growth for students, “Middle school is rough, so sometimes you don’t have that drive that our kids have. In the past, we’ve had difficulties where our kids need motivation.” She continued, “I feel like everything on our campus is going to be more effective because the kids have a reason to be here and a drive to be here. They want to be here.”
It’s unclear whether the faculty’s intention of targeting the bathroom was strategic but, it certainly carries a lot of weight in many ways. Oddly enough, women’s bathrooms are depicted in the media as a place to plan evil schemes and things of the like. This in turns, which prompts the real-life bathroom to foster this kind of negative behavior too. Recall HEATHERS (not family-friendly) or TV series’ like GOSSIP GIRL and THE AMANDA SHOW, which even had a segment called, “The Girls’ Room,” where female characters would gab about pop culture and how they looked….
Girls at this time in their life are shaping into the young women they will be in early adulthood and there’s a lot of pressure to look and act a certain way. The media hasn’t been the best example of reality for young women. Glamour magazines and pop-culture stars with a presence on social media give unhealthy comparisons to young girls, which inspires social pressures at school. With social media and the internet, these students must cope with expectations that generations before never did, or at least not to the extent that children do now. Unfortunately, some make drastic changes to their bodies to feel acceptance. For instance, last year, at least 200,000 cases of teenage plastic surgery were recorded.
In a place like a middle school bathroom where self-image and gossip are customary, it’s refreshing to see teachers taking small steps to infiltrate the lies of this world by promoting goodness and self-respect. Between the eight hours a day in school and the average nine hours children spend consuming media every day, it’s necessary to promote these Christian ideas of love and tenderness. Like these teachers show, telling someone, “you are seen, you are loved, you are valued,” can radically shake the cultural lies that are on our youth.