Students at a Catholic girls’ school claim they were left with “inflamed, irritated and swollen eyes” after they were forced to pull out eyelash extensions and remove make-up with antibacterial wipes.
The incident took place at Mater Christi College in Belgrave in Victoria on February 4 when Year 11 and 12 students were told to remove their fake lashes ahead of school photos.
They were allegedly threatened with suspension if they did not remove the lashes, and told they would miss out on being in photos.
The school’s uniform policy states that only minimal foundation and mascara are allowed.
“The following make-up items are not permitted: eye make-up, eyelash extensions/fake eyelashes, fake tan, lipstick,” it reads.
It’s understood some students were wearing the eyelash extensions in preparation for an upcoming Year 12 formal.
One student, who wants to remain anonymous, said the school’s actions were at odds with its “commitment to Catholic Benedictine values of respect”.
She said students were “forced to rip [eyelash extensions] out of their eyes whilst teachers looked on”.
“Girls were in tears,” she said.
Another student claims she was forced to cut her eyelash extensions at school after her attempts to pull them out the night before failed due to it “hurt[ing] way too much”.
“Many girls were made to pull out their natural looking eyelash extensions in school bathrooms, leading to several girls having inflamed, irritated and swollen eyes,” the student said.
“Girls were being made to remove make-up with antibacterial wipes, the kind that are used to clean tables.”
The situation left another Year 11 student “want[ing] to cry”. “It was so cruel of them to do this,” she said.
The appearance of students in school photos continues to be a source of tension at many schools. In 2018, the deputy principal at Trinity Grammar School was fired – and later reinstated – after cutting a male student’s hair on school photo day. There have also been reports of student’s pimples being photoshopped from school photos along with their facial piercings.
Mater Christi Principal Mary Fitz-Gerald said she “want[s] our students to be confident young women and proudly themselves”.
“In keeping with this spirit, student and parents have been notified on several occasions since the middle of last year false eyelashes and extensions would be unacceptable school wear,” she said.
She did not deny the allegations put to her by The Age.
A mother of three Mater Christi students was “shocked that the school had gone to such lengths to enforce the uniform policy”. While she acknowledged the school’s uniform rules had been breached, she said the repercussions were “extremely harsh and unfair”.
“It could have been dealt with in a safer way,” she said.
“Eyelash extensions either need to grow out naturally or be removed in a salon by a beauty therapist,” she said.
“Ripping or cutting them poses risks of permanent damage to the lashes, not to mention pain and discomfort. I certainly would not want any staff member to go near my daughter’s eye with a pair of scissors.”
Eyelash extensions are semi-permanent lashes that are hand-glued by a technician on top of the client’s natural lashes. Such a service can cost anywhere between $100-$300 for first application depending on the desired effect, then upwards of approximately $40-$80 for the eyelashes to be refilled.
The trend has become increasingly popular over the past two years, prompting Mater Christi to implement its “no eyelash extension” policy.