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Teen Turns School Restroom Into Self-Esteem Sanctuary

When we were in high school, the girls’ bathroom was a place of angst, adolescent ennui, smeared mascara, teased bangs, the stench of Aqua Net (and early global warming), used Tampax and crushed dreams. So it’s kind of nice to see a teen in 2017 using the school bathroom as the stage for a project that’s pretty heartwarming.

Sabrina Astle, a student at Laguna Hills High School in Southern California, papered the walls and stalls of her high school restroom with 30 or so handmade signs bearing happy affirmations like, “You are smart,” “You are beautiful” and “You are doing better than you think.” The bathroom has no mirrors, so Astle made sure to cover the area over the sinks with her posters too.

The high school junior told Today that she opted for the bathroom because she thought it would get the most visits. Fair enough.

More: Introducing “Dispatches from High School”: Real talk from teens

What motivated her to make the posters? “It just reminds everyone that they are important and special in their own way and that they shouldn’t feel like they are less than anyone because of what they see as a flaw,” she said.

Astle also created a Kindness Club at her school (making us wonder, “Is she a real teen or an alien life form in a luxurious blond wig?”). When the school decided to have a day with the theme “What if we showed more love?” (Seriously, where is this school and what is in the water?) Astle decided it was the perfect time to launch her gallery of affirmations.

“It was meant to brighten our students’ days and remind them that they are enough,” Chelsea Maxwell, the school’s activity director, explained. “They face so much pressure, academically to perform, athletics…. It can at times be overwhelming for students.”

More: “What I wish my parents did more”: Stories from teens

Photos of the bathroom went viral after one student’s appreciative mom posted pictures to the Facebook group Pantsuit Nation.

“I walked into the girls bathroom at a local high school over the weekend and was so amazed and overjoyed at what I saw. No mirrors just affirmations!” said the student’s mother, Shannen McKinney Lob.

McKinney Lob continued, “I was overwhelmed when I first saw the messages, there were so many all over every stall — way more than I took pictures of. The messages were especially moving for me in that moment as I was having a bit of self-doubt that day. They were exactly what I needed to lift my spirits I had to hold back tears I was so moved by them.” (Clearly, McKinney Lob survived the kind of girls’ rooms we experienced back in the day.) 

We’re fairly certain that there are some emo kids hanging out by the boiler room hating all the sunshine-y messages, but most students seem to approve of Astle’s mission.

“People have been smiling more. And I’ve noticed a lot of school pride, people saying, ‘I love the school because of things like this,’ which I thought was really cool,” she said.

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