For many high school girls, the bathroom can be a refuge to breezily escape the day’s pressures.
Just as often, though, the bathroom is a place where teens can be awfully self-critical. Sabrina Astle is looking to change that.
Astle, 17, spearheaded a project to spread positivity at Laguna Hills High School in Southern California, papering her high school bathroom with around 30 colorful signs with affirmations like “You are beautiful,” “You are smart,” and “You are doing better than you think.”
She hung them on the stalls and above the sinks in place of mirrors, which are absent in the girl's room.
“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,” the junior told TODAY, noting she chose the bathroom because she knew it would get the most foot traffic.
She noted how teen girls in particular often struggle with image, identity and trying to find themselves.
Astle, who also started a “Kindness Club” at her school, began making the signs long before they went up because she knew she wanted to spread more positivity on campus in some way.
When the school held a weeklong event at the end of March to bring students together — including a day asking, “What if we showed more love?” — Astle found the perfect opportunity to hang the signs.
“It was meant to brighten our students’ days and remind them that they are enough," said Chelsea Maxwell, the school’s activity director. "They face so much pressure, academically to perform, athletics... It can at times be overwhelming for students."
Images of the bathroom quickly went viral after a student’s mom happened to use the school’s restroom and was wowed by the affirmations.
She posted pictures on the popular Facebook group Pantsuit Nation, and they took off from there.
"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!" wrote the student's mother, Shannen McKinney Lob.
McKinney Lob told TODAY, "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. "
Students have reacted positively to the signs, said Astle.
“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.