Grades/Level: Middle School (6–8)
Subjects: Visual Arts, Physical Education
Time Required: 3–5–Part Lesson
Four to five class periods
Author: Stephanie Titler, Physical Education Teacher
Johnnie Cochran Middle School, Los Angeles Unified School District
Reproduction of "Danielle and Michelle at Final Weigh-In," photograph from the series Girl Culture by Lauren Greenfield
Magazines including ads with people promoting ideal beauty, images of different body types and eating disorders, especially females
Photographs of people with different body types and eating disorders
1. Ask students to discuss how society defines beauty. Discuss how different cultures define beauty and how the human body has become an important expression of personal identity in certain societies.
2. Pass out magazines and photographs, and have students look at the advertisements and images, and discuss how men and women are represented. Ask students if there are certain characteristics that society promotes (i.e., thin women and muscular men).
3. Show the class the reproduction of "Danielle and Michelle at Final Weigh-In" from the series Girl Culture. Ask students the following questions:
How does this image represent the female figure?
How does this photograph make you feel?
Think about the perspective (or camera angle) in the photograph. How is this similar to or different from the images in the magazines?
What are the differences between Greenfield's photograph and some of the images from the magazines? (For example: The magazine images intend to show ideal beauty and are trying to sell a product. The image of Danielle and Michelle represents the consequences of trying to attain ideal beauty and the pressures to own or fit into the products the magazines are trying to sell.)
4. Have students form groups of four to six students. Ask the groups to discuss what they see in the magazines. Have them look at the different body types in the images. In their groups, ask students to discuss answers to the following questions:
Find one or more images of females with obvious eating disorders. Does this picture make you feel uncomfortable? What was the first thing that you noticed? What else caught your eye?
What are some characteristics of people who have an eating disorder?
How do you think society puts pressure on boys and girls to look a certain way? Take turns describing your answers.
Why do you think eating disorders happen? How can they be prevented?
Does anything you see in these images remind you of your own life?
5. Pass out pencils and paper to the groups.
6. Instruct each group to choose one image they discussed. Then have each group compose and write down five questions they would like to ask the person in that image.
7. Have the groups share with the class the image they chose and the questions they composed.
8. Have each group work together to come up with answers to their group's questions from the perspective of the person in the image.
9. Based on students' own experience, ask them to consider what they have learned through physical education.
10. Ask each student to write one-paragraph on how physical education can help students avoid an unhealthy lifestyle.
Common Core Standards for English Language Arts
Text Types and Purposes
2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
Production and Distribution of Writing
4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
Comprehension and Collaboration
1. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
2. Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
Visual Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools
4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
4.1 Construct and describe plausible interpretations of what they perceive in works of art.
3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.2 Compare and contrast works of art from various periods, styles, and cultures and explain how those works reflect the society in which they were made.
5.0 Connections, Relationships, Applications
5.3 Examine art, photography, and other two and three-dimensional images, comparing how different visual representations of the same object lead to different interpretations of its meaning, and describe or illustrate the results.
Physical Education Model Content Standards for California Public Schools
5.2 Accept responsibility for individual improvement.
5.3 Demonstrate an acceptance of differences in physical development and personal preferences as they affect participation in physical activity.
5.4 Evaluate the effect of expressing encouragement to others while participating in a group physical activity.
5.5 Identify the responsibilities of a leader in physical activity.