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13th Jun 2022

Inappropriate Leaving Cert question about body types sparks outrage

Katy Brennan

The question was described as “perpetuating diet culture”.

The State Examinations board has stood by the inclusion of an “inappropriate” question on this year’s Home Economics Leaving Certificate paper.

Last week, many people were left outraged when one of the questions was about what colours to use to make clothes “flattering” to body shapes and sizes.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous that the Leaving Cert Home Ec paper asked to discuss how colour can be used to flatter body size and shape,” said writer Stephanie Preissner.

“As if thousands of students sitting exams don’t already have eating disorders and body sensitivities. The question is basically ‘how to look thin’.”

“What are our teenagers being taught in school if ‘discuss how colour can flatter body size and shape’ is a whole ass exam question on the home ec leaving cert paper?? I genuinely despair, we have so far to go in letting go of body fascism,” another person said.

Meanwhile, Sinead Crowe from Intuitive Eating Ireland described the question as “perpetuating diet culture”.

“Be great if they made an effort not to have fatphobic content in the LC.  We need to do better for our students.  A teacher sent me this after a student of hers was really upset seeing this question. Not ok,” she wrote on Instagram.

Other users pointed out that it was insensitive given the rise in eating disorders among young people during the pandemic.

In response, a spokesperson for the exams board said the question “required candidates to apply their knowledge of colour as an element of design in discussing how colour can be used to flatter body size and shape”.

They said the board “strives to ensure that there is an appropriate balance between the requirement to fully test the syllabus objectives while remaining sensitive to candidates’ individual circumstances”.

It continued: “The question is in line with current syllabus requirements noting that as part of Senior Cycle redevelopment all Leaving Certificate specifications will be reviewed.”