As I Am? Reflecting on Body Image Author: Piper Anderson Grades: 8-12+ Suggested Time Allowance: 90+ minutes Materials: -Pens -Paper -Magazine cut outs of sections of bodies (you may opt to have students cut out the body sections as apart of the project or provide them yourself)
Subject Areas: Communication, Behavioral Studies, Fine Arts, Health Overview: In this lesson students will explore their internalized beliefs about body image through the creation of visual collages.
Objectives: 1. Students will use collage to create images that reflect popular perceptions of beauty and a healthy body image. 2. Students will explore the ways in which concerns about body image impact the characters in the novels. 3. Students will reflect on their own perceptions about body image.
Activities/Procedures: 1. Character Image Mining: (20 minutes): Request a volunteer to read one of the following short passages. Feel free to read more than one passage. That White Girl: Read page 57 and pp. 253-254 where Amber reveals her negative beliefs about her body. Picture Me Rollinʼ: Read section beginning on page 279 “After she showered…” continuing on to end of paragraph on page 280. Esperanza realizes the way in which her ideals of beauty have shifted.
The Sista Hood: Read section beginning on page 175 to the end of the page. Mariposa realizes that Ezekiel has his own concerns about body image. Discussion Questions: 1. What do we learn about this characterʼs perceptions of body image from this passage? 2. What beliefs about beauty and acceptable body size does this character hold? 3. Where do you think s/he learned those perceptions about his/her body? 4. What role does his/her race or gender play in shaping these ideals about beauty and body image? 2. Body Collages (Total: 70 minutes): Note to Educators: Separate body part groups by gender and try to have equal numbers of female and male parts. One set should include a range of options that represents popular ideal body for men, the other for women (e.g. skinny, muscular, tall, etc.). Place these in envelopes #1 and #2. The second set should include a range of diverse, healthy realistic bodies of different shapes and sizes for both men and women. Place these in envelopes #3 and #4. All sections should include arms, legs, torso, and head. Keep in mind that race and gender should be included in this diversity as well. Provide exhibit space in the classroom and assign each group an exhibit station to mount its collages. There should be a clean sheet of chart paper placed next to each collage. Once all of the collages have been mounted, allow students time to visit each station and view the collages. They should write their responses to each of the collages on the chart paper next to it. Divide students into two small groups. Give each group one envelope labeled either #1 or #2, with the magazine cut out body parts of “ideal bodies”. Working with the contents of their assigned envelope only, the group must create a collage representing the ideal body for women or men. Ask the question to the group before they begin, “According to popular culture, what is the standard of beauty for men and women?” After all the students have had the opportunity to view all of the collages, they should return to their seats for the discussion. Discussion Questions: 1. What types of bodies are most valued in popular culture, particularly Hip-Hop? 2. What impact does it have on us when we are not able to meet those standards? 3. How did Mariposa, Esperanza, and/or Amber respond to these standards? Do they conform or resist them? How?
4. What roles do race and gender play in how we think about standards of beauty? 5. What sanctions exist for those of us who do not meet popular standards of beauty? 6. What impact do these standards have on the body images of young women? Young men? 7. Besides popular culture, where else do we learn about standards of beauty? 8. What judgments do we make about people based on their size or physical attributes? What judgments do we make about ourselves? Students will return to their groups. Distribute the contents of the envelope #3 and #4. Using the contents of envelopes #3 & #4, each group will create a body collage representing a healthy body. Each group will end up with a different body type. When finished, each group will exhibit the healthy realistic image next to its first collage. Once again, students will have the opportunity to walk around the classroom, view all of the collages, and comment on them. 5. In their journals or notebooks, students will write about their own relationship to body image while responding to the following question: “How have popular images of beauty impacted the way that you feel about your body?”
Extension Activities: 1.How We Feel In Our Bodies: This is a movement exercise. The educator will need to coach the group through this exercise by giving directions step-by-step and taking regular pauses. Begin to walk around the room. Notice the way that your feet hit the floor, how your legs feel as you walk. Notice the movement of your arms. Relax and shake out any tension you feel inside your body. Walk faster…then slower…then even slower than that…now resume your regular pace…Pick a body part that you feel most comfortable with and lead with it…Notice how that feels. Now pick the body part that youʼre the least comfortable with, the part that you protect and hide the most and lead with it…Notice how that feels…notice the other people in the room and how they move. How do you move differently with each body part? What does it look like to walk lovingly and powerfully with your whole body? (You should end this exercise in a circle where everyone can share what the experience was like for him or her.) 2. Mirror, Mirror: Students will divide into pairs. They should find a partner who is similar to them in height but not necessarily size. One partner will be “A” the other “B”. On cue from the Educator, A will become the leader and B will mirror every movement that A makes. Encourage the leader to move with their whole body or as much of their body as they feel comfortable moving. The leader should be
watching the ways that B is mirroring his/her movement. After two to three minutes, the Educator should instruct B to become the leader and A the follower. What did you notice about your movements watching them mirrored by your partner? What did you experience as the follower? Were their moments when you felt uncomfortable with the movements as either leader or follower? Did you notice parts of your body that felt stiff? Were other parts more flexible and relaxed? 3. Photo Journal: Use a digital or disposable camera to take pictures that tell a story about the importance of loving your body. If available, use video editing software like iMovie to put the images together and set them to music to add another dimension to your photo journal.
Interdisciplinary Connections: 1. Cultural Studies: With the advent of social networking sites such as Myspace.com, young people have the opportunity to create cyber-identities that reflect the people that they want to be or feel they should be. What role does popular standards of beauty play in the creation of these cyber identities? 2. Political Science: Write an op-ed piece about the case of Megan Meier who committed suicide after being taunted on Myspace.com. Young people who do not conform to the popular standards of beauty are often the targets of bullies on and off the Internet. How could the Megan Meier始s tragedy have been prevented? What regulations could be passed to prevent cyber bullying? 3. Economics: To what extent do advertisers profit from reinforcing notions of beauty that emphasis weight loss? What would be the financial consequences to the weight loss industry if society began to reject ideals that value thinner bodies?
Academic Content Standards: Arts and Communication Standard 4: Understands ways in which the human experience is transmitted and reflected in the arts and communication. Behavioral Studies Standard 1: Understands that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity, and behavior.
Supplemental Resources: Our Bodies, Ourselves; Boston Women's Health Book Collective Body Drama: Real Girls, Real Bodies, Real Issues, Real Answers; Nancy Amanda Redd 1
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