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Some of you may be aware that a journalist for the Daily Mail recently published on their website an article declaring that Lancaster was the “vainest university…where female students spend on average £1,109 on [beauty products] a year”. I have so many problems with this article that I don’t really know where to start.
Firstly, apparently Lancaster “topped a league table of beauty spending at more than 200 colleges across the UK”… who did they ask? Three people? I have asked around my female friends and not one of them has been questioned about their spending on make-up. Apparently the statistics come from the website of a beauty retailer, who shall remain anonymous as frankly they don’t deserve any more publicity. Now, I’m pretty into my fashion and make-up but I have never heard of this website. In a cursory glance it looks a little bit like net-a-porter for make-up. Most of the girls I know either go direct to their favourite brands online, or they go browsing at Boots and Superdrug make-up counters. I would be quite interested to know how big the statistics pool for this survey was and also when it was taken.
The way in which the figures differ so much between universities does bring into question the amount of students asked. While Lancaster women apparently spend £1,109, Cambridge ladies only splash out £278 a year and their rivals at Oxford spend even less at £155. Now I’m not a statistician but to me this screamed of a small survey pool. Surely by the law of averages the figures should be closer together? Unless everyone in Lancaster is splashing out on Chanel and everyone in Oxford is sticking to Barry M (I rather doubt this though).
The article continues to revel in its absurdity by claiming that the £1000+ sum quoted was 1/5th of the average student loan packet. Initial sum of money aside, what I’d like to know is which students are getting over £5,000 a year in loans? I believe this is close to the maximum amount that a student studying in London can claim but it is an unsuitable figure to use, considering Lancaster students are unable to claim this much in loans. Clearly the purpose of this article is to paint the ladies of Lancaster as irresponsible, vain and vapid.
The author also claims later that the average double room in Lancaster costs £67 (where’s she looking?), implying that Lancaster ladies are even more stupid than usual because we have all this extra cash floating about which we should be investing in other things. She seems to have forgotten about food, bills and books however. Easily done of course, especially by the students of Lancaster who are, according to the Daily Mail, more likely to buy Chanel lipstick than a breadstick.
One of the things that struck me as I was reading the article, however, was that down the infamous ‘Sidebar of Shame’ on the Daily Mail page there were numerous critical ‘articles’ of celebrity women. They were either too fat (‘Rebel Wilson [caught] stuffing desserts into her purse’), too old (‘Denise Welch wears outdated […] bikini and frumpy top’) or too stupid (various articles about losing money, fake tan etc.). There is a culture of woman-shaming on the Daily Mail and it’s sickening. Nothing we do is right; we will never be beautiful enough, rich enough or intelligent enough for them. If we wear too much make-up we’re frittering away our money, if we wear too little we’ll be dubbed as frumpy and/or lazy.
How do we stop this? Well I suggest to begin with: debating, writing responses, and generally telling these people that they’re wrong. See the person in the comments who judges all of Lancaster University’s female students by saying “they all want to become successful fashion and beauty bloggers or be discovered as the next celebrity”. Clearly this keyboard warrior hasn’t done his homework and has failed to notice that Lancaster is a top 20 UK University, or that our Management School is one of the best in the world. Instead they’re merely riding on the sexist bandwagon. Something that articles like this in the Mail help to perpetuate. Having read the words ‘women’ and ‘make-up’ in the title of the article, the person in question delivered their judgement from on high. Well thanks, but I don’t think we need it.
This Daily Mail article is littered with mistakes, erroneous statistics and comparisons that really don’t make sense. My anger isn’t just directed at the dubious topic of the article though – the journalist’s inability to present their argument in a cohesive and accurate manner is nearly just as infuriating. All they have produced is yet another fail by the Daily Mail.