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

For the Classroom


Curriculum Home
Lesson Plans

Lesson Overview

Students will analyze a photograph to learn about body image. They will also discuss how society views the human body in different cultures.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
• discuss depictions of body image and how they apply to their own lives.
• compare and contrast a healthy and unhealthy lifestyle.
• write a one-paragraph summary on how physical education can help students avoid an unhealthy lifestyle.

Materials

• 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
• Pencils
• Paper

Lesson Steps

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.

Danielle and Michelle, Girl Culture / Greenfield
"Danielle and Michelle at Final Weigh-In" from the series Girl Culture, Lauren Greenfield, 2002, © Lauren Greenfield/INSTITUTE

Assessment

Students will be assessed on:
• discussions of depictions of body image.
• participation in group discussions comparing healthy lifestyles versus unhealthy lifestyles.
• summary of how physical education can help avoid an unhealthy lifestyle.

Extensions

Have students do further research on Lauren Greenfield's Girl Culture series by visiting Greenfield's website. Have students write a paragraph comparing her views on body image with the images in the magazines.

Ask students to take a photograph with a camera or cell phone of an image depicting either the ideal view of beauty or the ramifications of not fitting the ideal. Review Lauren Greenfield's captions and artist statements on some of her work through the link above. Have students write a caption or artist statement for their photograph.

Standards Addressed

Visual Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 6
4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
4.1 Construct and describe plausible interpretations of what they perceive in works of art.

Grade 7
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

Grade 7
Self-Responsibility
5.2 Accept responsibility for individual improvement.

Social Interaction
5.3 Demonstrate an acceptance of differences in physical development and personal preferences as they affect participation in physical activity.

Group Dynamics
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.

"I learned that when you include art, it is more enticing for the students. Also, art gives students a better visual. This lesson is useful to my after-school program called 'Girl Talk,' which deals with young female students and societal issues going on today in their lives."
—Stephanie Titler