Literature prize for Burbage student’s essay on sexism

Competition winner Lauren Hayward, 16, says she will not be spending her �100 prize on shoes and make-up.
Competition winner Lauren Hayward, 16, says she will not be spending her �100 prize on shoes and make-up.

A Burbage student has taken second place in a nationwide writing competition after penning a powerful essay on sexism in the media.

Lauren Hayward, 16, was picked out of thousands of entries to the National Young Writers’ contest, with judges impressed by her descriptive skills, political insight and persuasive tone.

Her 1,500-word piece, written in the style of a newspaper feature, called for a revision of the gender stereotyping which, Lauren argues, damages boys and girls and establishes prejudices into adulthood.

Lauren wrote: “Sexism is like the common cold: easy to catch and impossible to avoid.

The essay explained how the presentation of women in the media frequently suggested to girls that they should dress a certain way to achieve their goals.

The King’s School student added: “Sexism also greatly impacts the way in which women view themselves and their own bodies.”

“Perhaps most shocking of all is the way that the chauvinistic attitudes of individuals in the media have mutated to become highly-infectious diseases, caught by girls themselves.”

She expressed sympathy for young men too and argued that they also struggle to realise the aspirations of a clichéd media.

Lauren concluded: “We, as humans, all have the power to change the world. It is time to unite as one team to oppose expectations and the media’s sexist rules stereotypes.”

Lauren, who is on course for ten A*s in her GCSEs this summer, won £100 from The Young Programme.

She said: “You might think I’d want to go into politics, but probably not. However, we should all campaign for what we believe in.”