Danielle Degelman

What is Beauty?

Posted on: March 4, 2011

cc licensed flickr photo shared by TheeErin

What is beauty? Unfortunately, this is a question that many young girls ask themselves on a regular basis. Because of the media, “86% of teenage girls are on a diet or believe they should be on one” (Nault, 2005). Many young girls want to be skinnier, wish they didn’t have freckles or glasses, long for prettier hair and facial features, take make-up lessons at a salon, and plead their parents to buy them the latest fashions. Why do girls think and do such things? And why are they growing up so fast? Because Glamour, Cosmo, and Vogue magazines show “happy”, airbrushed women with “flawless” bodies and features. Because television and movies portray women who appear to be comfortable in their own skin. Because music videos show women with “perfect” bodies, “perfect” curves, “perfect” hair, and “perfect” make-up. No wonder teenage girls have such low self-esteem!

Here are some resources that discuss the media’s influence on young girls. These websites, essays, and blogs will be valuable for teachers and parents who have a genuine concern for children who preoccupy themselves with beauty and a need for social acceptance:

The following Dove commercial shows young girls who wish they were prettier in some way. How can we teach our female students that they are beautiful both inside and out? Is this even our place as teachers?

Please share your thoughts with me. This is a topic that I hold dear to my heart…


2 Responses to "What is Beauty?"

Quite honestly I feel that this is something that every girl will struggle with at some point in their life. I remember looking at surf magazines back when I was 12 and seeing these perfect surfing bodies in tiny bikinis. I dreamed of looking exactly like those girls in the magazine. Obviously it’s not possible; no one has the same body to begin with AND as you mentioned in your post, the pictures are airbrushed to make them look perfect. I’ve often wondered how as a teacher I can help girls going through that horrible stage – feeling like you aren’t pretty enough, or skinny enough. I took an art class at university that was full of girls. We all had to paint/draw our life sized bodies and emphasize the parts that we don’t like. After we finished every one of us shared our paintings. Every single girl in that room thought there was something wrong with a certain body part – often based on comments made to them once in their life time. The things that came up were things that no one else would even think of. Some girls thought their face, nose, lips, hips, legs, arms, etc. were too big. The experience helped me realize for myself that my “problem areas” are really just something that I’ve created in my head and I learned to focus on the positive things about myself. I feel that as a teacher we could create a similar experience for our own students to help them bring it out in the open, it helps a person deal with it. However, it also needs to be a safe and confidential environment.

Thanks for your opinion! I also agree that we, as teachers, should help students focus on the positives. Every student should be able to recognize AT LEAST one thing they like about themselves.

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"Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength of the nation." -- John F. Kennedy

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