BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER!

 

JOHN J. JANC
MINNESOTA STATE UNIVERSITY, MANKATO

 

MCTLC 2003

 

 

GENERAL COMMENTS

 

A. In order to help our students understand cultural differences and develop awareness and

     sensitivity in this area,  we  need to create activities that allow them to do so.

B. The topic of beauty and its relative nature is a very challenging subject that must be dealt 

     with most carefully. People, young and old, are very sensitive about their appearance.  In  

     order not to make students feel uneasy, I have chosen to illustrate the topic by using

     animals, people whom they do not know and pictures of individuals from the past.

C. This project can be done at all levels.  Teachers must create activities and conduct their

     classes according to the students’ linguistic abilities.

     1. Students who have limited language ability can give one-word answers and lists

         of words.

     2. Students at the ACTFL intermediate level are expected to give full sentence answers.

     3. Students who are beyond the intermediate level should provide answers that 

         demonstrate characteristics of the ACTFL advanced speaker.

 

PREPARATORY VOCABULARY AND GRAMMAR

 

A. Vocabulary

     1. Prepare a list of vocabulary that describes the physical appearance of an individual.

         It will be made up of body parts, appropriate adjectives to describe them

         and descriptive adjectives of a general nature: “cute,”   

         “pretty”“lovely,” “handsome,” “ugly,” “disgusting,” “awful,” etc.

         a. Incorporate idiomatic expressions and proverbs that are commonly heard in the

             countries where the target language is spoken. 

         b. The list will need references to breasts, hips and buttocks.  The adjectives chosen

              should be limited to “big,” “average” and “small.”

     2. Students will have to be given explanations of the vocabulary and expressions. 

     3. Students will need to do written and oral exercises that help them master the

         vocabulary.

B. Grammar

1.     Students will need to know the comparative if they are at the appropriate linguistic

      level. If they are not, this part would be eliminated.

     2.  Students will need to do written and oral exercises that prepare them to compare

         and contrast.

 

 

PREPARATORY DISCOVERY ACTIVITIES

 

A. With the students, create a simple definition of physical beauty.

     1. Put them into groups and ask them to make four lists.  They are to indicate what they  

         admire and dislike physically in men and women.

     2. Ask them to put the results on the board.

     3. Based upon their comments, ask them to come up with categories that can be used in a

         general definition of  beauty: size, form, color and shape.

     4. The definition might read as follows: “Beauty consists of the sizes, forms, shapes and

         colors that we most  the students, study the relative nature of beauty. 

B. Grammar

     1. Show them pictures of different animals, both male and female.  Choose both “cute”

         and not so attractive animals.

     2. Ask them to react to the pictures, using appropriate adjectives: “cute,” “pretty”  

         “lovely,” “ugly,”  “disgusting,” “awful,” etc.

     3. Ask them:

         a. if they, the students, are not imposing their point of view on the animal world;

         b. if the animals see their male/female counterparts in the same fashion as humans do.

         c. This should lead to the conclusion that beauty is relative, that “Beauty is in the eye  

             of the beholder.” 

 

 

PREPARATORY HOMEWORK ACTIVITIES

 

A. As homework, ask students to:

     1. make a list of two attractive and two unattractive people (singers, movie stars,

         athletes,  etc.);

     2. come up with three or four physical traits per person that explain why they feel the

         way they do;

     3. compare the people whom they have chosen, using the vocabulary and grammar that

         they have learned, They  will have two pairs, each one consisting of one attractive and 

          one unattractive individual. 

B. Explain exactly what you want by giving them an example.

C. Make sure that you have adjusted the assignment to the students’ linguistic level.

 

 

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES

 

There are three main activities. 

 

A. The students must come up with conclusions as to what Americans think male and

      female beauty and  unattractiveness are.

 

     The homework assignment is designed to help students come up with conclusions as

     male and female beauty and unattractiveness are.

      1. Students can read their findings aloud and the class, as a whole, can draw  

          conclusions.  A student recorder would write them on the board

      2. Students can work in groups and draw conclusions which are then reported to the

          class. At the class level,  the students synthesize their findings and come up with

          conclusions that a student recorder would write on the board

 

B. The students must be helped to understand that beauty was not perceived in the same

     fashion in other periods of time and in other cultures.

 

      In order to illustrate the relative nature of beauty, the teacher may now:

     1. show paintings by different artists which depict how beauty was perceived at different

         times in history.

     2. show pictures of Miss Americas, Miss Universes and Mr. Universes across the years.

     3. show pictures of different hair styles popular in the twentieth century.

     4. produce a list of practices associated with different cultures that illustrate what they

         perceive beauty to be. Pictures can also be used here: Africa: neck rings, lip plates, 

         etc.; China: binding of women’s feet; members  of tribes in South America and

         Africa with bones in their noses or ears.

     5. show pictures of people who were admired when they were young and beautiful or

         handsome and  who are/were admired when their physical appearance changed:

         Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley, Bob Hope, Kathryn  Hepburn and other singers,

          actors and athletes.

 

C. The students must arrive at overall conclusions. 

 

     1. Beauty is, in fact, relative.  The perception of beauty changes according to the period

         and the people. 

     2. We need to be tolerant of others who do not perceive beauty in the same manner.

     3. We need to be sensitive to other people’s feelings.

     4. Beauty is only skin deep.  Interior beauty counts as much or more.

 

FOLLOW-UP DISCUSSION: GOING BEYOND THE TOPIC

 

Who decides what beauty is?  How do members of society know what the norms for beauty are?  How are they enforced or reinforced?  Do groups exist that reject the norms?  What happens to individuals who do not correspond to the norms? What can we do to change the norms?

 

 

Created as webpage: 29 October, 2003    URL:  http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/mlwolsey/mnaatf/janc5.htm