What is beauty and who has it? By A. Dawson, CNN
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this article With Answer Key.
The criteria for beauty in America is changing.
The newly crowned Miss Universe Leila Lopes is happy, sparkling, and she’s beautiful. The same is true for Miss USA Alyssa Campanella. Many super models are beautiful, as are many movie stars. The question is What is Beauty? Who decides who is beautiful or not?
This is an excerpt from an interesting article that discusses beauty and how the definition is changing in America:
1. “Can beauty be defined by age, gender, color, body shape or size? Who gets to decide? Multibillion-dollar beauty and fashion industries both shape and depend on the cult-like worship of what physical attributes the public sees as beautiful. And most women feel the effects of those decisions.
2. The photo exhibition “Beauty Culture” at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, with 175 pictures by iconic photographers, is aimed at starting people thinking and talking about female beauty. It also peeks into the underbelly of the beauty industry, including its relation to celebrity, plastic surgery, the faux-perfection of airbrushing of advertising and even child beauty pageants There are a lot of hot-button issues as to how the media and the beauty and fashion worlds depict whole groups of people, why they show them in a particular way or barely notice them at all.
3. However, there’s been a major shift when it comes to diversity in beauty advertising and magazine beauty editorial spreads…America’s changing definition of beautiful. Several studies suggest that many equate beauty with symmetry, but even within that equation, “Each time has its own standard (of beauty),” said photographer Melvin Sokolsky during his lecture at the Annenberg.
4. And that standard in America is changing rapidly. Today, the number of marriages between people of different ethnicities is surging. Back in 1993, Time magazine’s cover story “The New Face of America,” featuring a computer generated face consisting of a mix of several ethnicities, is indeed more in line with what most of us now consider beautiful, according to Allure’s 20th Anniversary Beauty Survey. “Sixty-four percent of all our respondents think women of mixed race represent the epitome of beauty,” the survey says…” Ms. Dawson makes some interesting observations, so read the rest of the article.
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this article.
Also,watch Denis Dutton: A Darwinian Theory of Beauty in this Lesson plan!
Lesson: The Definition of Beauty
Level: Intermediate -Advanced
Materials: article excerpt.
Objectives: Students will discuss how beauty is defined by others, and give their own opinion of the definition of beauty. Students will practice reading , speaking, writing and listening skills.
I. Pre-reading Task
A. Prediction: Have students read the titles (of both this post and of the original article) survey the photos, to see if they can predict what the article will be about.
B *Stimulate background knowledge by having students brainstorm to build a list of all of the terms they can think of connected to the term “beauty”.
*Visit ESL Voices Reading Strategies
II. While Reading Tasks
A. Vocabulary Inference
Students guess the meanings of the words in bold, and use a dictionary or thesaurus for assistance.
- Can beauty be defined by age, gender…
- …industries both shape and depend on the cult-like worship…
- what physical attributes the public sees as beautiful
- And most women feel the effects of those decisions.
- 175 pictures by iconic photographers…
- It also peeks into the underbelly of the beauty industry…
- including its relation to celebrity, plastic surgery, the faux-perfection…
- the faux-perfection…
- …thefaux-perfection, airbrushing of advertising…
- There are a lot of hot-button issues as to how the media…
- However, there’s been a major shift when it comes to diversity in beauty advertising and magazine
- Several studies suggest that many equate beauty with symmetry…
- Sixty-four percent of all our respondents think women of mixed race represent the epitome of beauty…
B. Choose the correct word.
Circle or underline the word that is correct, reread the paragraph to check your work
- Can beauty be defined / definition by age, gender, color, body shape or size?
- Multibillion-dollar beauty and fashion/ fashionable industries both shape/ship and depend on the cult-like worship of what physical attributes
- The photo exhibition/ exhibit “Beauty Culture” at the Annenberg Space for Photography…
- …175 pictures by iconic /icon photographers…
- …including its relation to celebrity /celebrate plastic surgery, the faux-perfection…
- … starting people thinking / think and talking / talked about female beauty.
- It also peeks / peaks into the underbelly of the beauty industry, including its relation to celebrity…
- There are a lot of hot-button issues… why they show them in a particular way or barely / bearly notice them at all..
- However, there’s been a major shift when it comes to diversity/diverse in beauty advertising
- Several studies / students suggest that many equate / equation beauty with symmetry / symmetrical but even within that equation…
- Today, the number of marriages between people of different ethnicities /ethnics is surging.
C. Reading for Comprehension-True / False
If a sentences are true write (T) if it is false, write (F). Provide the correct answer from the article.
Multibillion-dollar beauty and fashion industries both shape and depend on the cult-like worship of what physical attributes the public sees as beautiful
The photo exhibition “Beauty Culture” at the Annenberg Space for Photography in New York …
There aren’t a lot of hot-button issues.
However, there’s been a minor shift and diversity in beauty is the same.
Several studies suggest that many equate beauty with symmetry, but even within that equation, “Each time has its own standard (of beauty)
Today, the number of marriages between people of different ethnicities is decreasing..
D. Questions for Reflection and Discussion
How do you define beauty?
Is beauty something we can always see?
Can a soul be beautiful?
Can men be beautiful? Can Animals?
What makes a person beautiful?
Is there more than one type of beauty? What are they?
III. Post Reading Tasks
A. *Paragraph Writing:
Visit *ESL Voices Paragraph Writing review.
1. Choose one of the sayings and write a paragraph interpreting what the author is saying about beauty. Do you agree or disagree, and provide reasons why.
2. Research the authors, and write an essay about their lives.
- Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart. ~Kahlil Gibran
- I’m tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That’s deep enough. What do you want – an adorable pancreas? ~Jean Kerr,
- It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness. ~Leo Tolstoy
- Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844
- In every man’s heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty. ~Christopher Morley
- As we grow old, the beauty steals inward. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
- The most beautiful view is the one I share with you. ~Author Unknown
Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. ~Confucius
When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other. ~Chinese Proverb
A woman who cannot be ugly is not beautiful. ~Karl Kraus
Beauty comes in all sizes, not just size 5. ~Roseanne
Do I love you because you’re beautiful, Or are you beautiful because I love you?~Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Cinderella
Beauty comes as much from the mind as from the eye. ~Grey Livingston
B. Photos Activity:
Study the photos, then choose one to write a paragraph about. Answer the questions:
Is the person beautiful in your opinion? Try to describe what it is that you find attractive. Would you want to look like this person? Why or why not?
What do you think the person is thinking about? Do you think you’d like this person as a friend? Why or why not?
C. Listening Activity
Denis Dutton: A Darwinian Theory of Beauty
TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Featured speakers have included Al Gore on climate change, Philippe Starck on design… Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child, Jane Goodall on chimpanzees, Bill Gates on malaria and mosquitoes, and others. In this segment TED collaborates with animator Andrew Park to illustrate Denis Dutton’s provocative theory on beauty — that art, music and other beautiful things, far from being simply “in the eye of the beholder,” are a core part of human nature with deep evolutionary origins...Click to start video
I. Pre-listening Task:
Here is a list of names and phrases from the video. Review the meanings with students before listening. There are links to the names in case students want to do further research.
- aesthetics plural noun. [usu. treated as sing. ] a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty, esp. in art.
- go off the rails informal phrase. begin behaving in a strange, abnormal, or wildly uncontrolled way.
- Berlioz’s “Harold in Italy” Hector Berlioz [11 December 1803 – 8 March 1869) was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande messe des morts (Requiem). Berlioz wrote little music during his stay in Italy in 1831-2The first large-scale reflection of his Italian experiences is the symphony Harold in Italy.
- Anton Pavlovich Chekhov ( 29 January 1860-15 July 1904) was a Russian short-story writer, playwright and physician, considered to be one of the greatest short-story writers in the history of world literature.
- Hokusai Katsushika Hokusai ( October or November 1760 – May 10, 1849)was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. Hokusai is best known as author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji …
- Der Rosenkavalier (Op. 59) (The Knight of the Rose) is a comic opera in three acts by Richard Strauss.
- Vincent Willem van Gogh Dutch: ( March 30, 1853 – July 29, 1890) The Starry Night (is a painting by the artist.
- Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction… earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature.
- Fred Astaire (born Frederick Austerlitz (May 10, 1899 – June 22, 1987) was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor.
- Lascaux is the setting of a complex of caves in southwestern France famous for its Paleolithic cave paintings.
- The Musée du Louvre (n English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world’s largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris.t
- Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue.
Have students listen to the passage, to see if they hear the names and phrases above.
II. While Listening task
See if students can answer the following multiple choice questions, they may need to hear the video again.
What are the three ways Ted tries to figure out beauty?
A. asking questions, studying, reading,
B intellectually, philosophically, psychologically,
C. Talk to beautiful people, study philosophy of art, study aesthetics,
According to Dennis the most powerful theory of beauty is
A – a baby’s face
B -Van Goh’s Stary Night
C – the theory of Charles Darwin
The speaker notes the many people think they know what beauty is, how many meanings does he provide?
It’s in the eye of the beholder. It’s whatever moves you personally, beauty is in the culturally-conditioned eye of the beholder.
The speaker claims that in order to understand the universality in the arts we must
A -try to reconstruct a Darwinian evolutionary history of our artistic and aesthetic tastes.
B -listen to American jazz
C look at cross-culturl movies
According to Dennis where should we begin looking?
A. To our grandparents
B. our artists and aesthetic tastes
C. prehistoric environments, fossils, cave paintings, and the aesthetic interests of isolated hunter-gatherer bands that survived into the 19th and the 20th centuries.
What are the two primary mechanisms of evolution
A.Selection of the fittest and strongest
B. Natural selection, and sexual selection-
C. Selection of the most attractive and fittest
The tail of the Peacock did not evolve for natural survival, but
A. resulted from mating choices of the peahen
B. resulted from natural beauty
C. resulted from eating multicolored rocks.
In order to encourage us to select the most adoptive choices for survival and reproduction evolution’s trick is to
A. consider briefly pleasure
B. make people beautiful so that we happy to look at them-
C. make people unattractive
The clearest example of humans everywhere finding beauty in similar visual experience is
A. Yellowstone Park
B. The Hudson River
C. the ideal savanna landscape
Why is this type of landscape so appealing to all types of people?
A.it is very similar to the pleistocene savannas where we evolved.
B. it reminds us of home
C. it’s pure coincidence
According to the speaker, what are the most intrguing prehistoric artifact?
A. shell neclaces
B. Acheulian hand axes.
C. ochre body paint
Why are these considered to be the most intriguing to us?
A. Their symmetry, their attractive materials and, above all, their meticulous workmanship are simply quite beautiful to our eyes, even today.
B. they were good for butchering animals
C. they had thin small blades
What is the one fundamental trait of the ancestral personality that persists in our aesthetic cravings:
C. the beauty we find in skilled performance
According to Dennis is beauty in the eye of the beholder?
A. Yes, especially if its a teardrop-shaped diamond stone.
B. No, it’s deep in our minds… handed down from the intelligent …ancestors.
C. Yes, it depends on what we’re looking at.
III. Post-Listening Tasks
1. In groups, have students make up questions they would like to ask the speaker.
2. Did they agree with everything the speaker said? Which comments did they disagree with and why?
3. After listening to this talk, has their personal idea of beauty changed? Describe in what way.
Answer Key Here.