“Among the more polarizing sights in Manhattan this spring were the Madison Avenue windows of Barneys New York, an unlikely showcase for a series of mannequins. They were ringers for the real-life models who stalked the Hood by Air men’s runway in January, right down to their elaborate tattoos and the uncanny grillwork distorting their grins…Claudia Brien, a young Upper East Side matron, pronounced those vitrines ‘beyond disgusting.’I pass them most days, but I go out of my way to keep my children away.” R. La Ferl, The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: Piercings and Eye-Popping Tattoos… By Ruth La Ferl, The NYT
“Love them or loathe them, the windows, their mannequins lurching toward spectators, lips ringed in jeweled pacifiers, “skin” elaborately inked, were a come-on. They were as surely a testament to a widening fascination with body modification in its most eye-popping extremes: allover tattoos, subdermal implants, piercing, stretching, scarring, branding and the like. Shayne Oliver, the chief creative force behind Hood by Air, has been quick to exploit that fascination.
Of a piece with his musical collaborations on and off the runway, the display was a calculated provocation, in tune, as Mr. Oliver likes to say, with ‘the language of flamboyancy, the language of exaggeration.’
As they say, the eye adjusts. Facial and body piercings, ear gauging, dental grills and tribal ink were once the province of so-called deviant or subversive subcultures…Tattooing and high-visibility piercing, resurgent in the early 1990s as the seditious insignia of proud outliers, are now being revisited in unlikely quarters.
We’re seeing business professionals, doctors, nurses and teachers more discerning about what to look for and what to choose… Fashion has certainly played a part: at Givenchy’s spring 2016 show, models’ ears were encrusted in crystals and studs, their faces covered in glued-on jewels, beads and swaths of lace; at Rodarte, models’ eyebrows were embellished with rows of tiny hoops, while those at Dries Van Noten wore long, fitted gloves stenciled with tattoo-like markings.
Then there are the show people: Rihanna and FKA Twigs, gracing the covers of the fashion glossies; Kendall Jenner, who wore a silver-dollar-size ceremonial nose ring at Coachella in 2014; and Justin Bieber, showing off a small freshly inked cross beneath his left eye on his Instagram feed.
Craig Rodriguez, the owner of the End Is Near and Hand of Glory, both in Brooklyn, spoke in a radio interview in the early ’90s of just how common piercing had become. These days the question is not ‘Is it mainstream?’ But how far are people willing to take it.”
Suddenly it seems as if a certain type of nose ring is all over New York. Six celebrants of this style explain what attracted them to the piercing (and helped them endure the discomfort).
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Have students examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of words and ideas that they think might be related to this article.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- The new scene is a curious hybrid of street theater and fashion.
- The mannequins appear to be lurching toward spectators.
- More people are getting tattoos, subdermal implants, and piercing.
- Hood by Air, has been quick to exploit that fascination.
- Over time, people do acclimate.
- These are examples of extreme body modifications.
- Zulueta has a pattern that enhances the contours of his back.
- Professionals more discerning about what to look for and what to choose.
- Some models had their eyebrows embellished with rows of tiny hoops.
- Ear piercing is such a big trend right now.
Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins
Directions: The following paragraphs are from the article. Choose the correct word for each blank space from the word list.
Whether ___want to___and match their ___or have ___earrings all the way up their ears, more is more. The store hopes to ___a mix of ___younger customers and those like her, who, she said, “have kept their main ear hole and want at least one more additional___.
Multiple ___in and around the ears, ___the mark of mall rats and club crawlers, ___to a wider___. We’re noting more ___in their 40s, 50s and 60s are getting piercings.
Word List: stylish, people, piercings, draw, women, piercing, multiple, jewelry, mix, formerly, appeal, audience.
Grammar: Using Adjectives to describe pictures
Directions: Have students choose a picture from the article and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives. They can share their descriptions with the class.
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following topics.
- “On Saturday, Jenny Camillieri, a middle school assistant principal in her 40s, was having her forearms inked at the End Is Near, the fresh designs an extension of a fretwork of tattoos snaking toward her shoulder. The kids, when they see them, all assume I’m, like, really cool, Ms. Camillieri said, nonchalantly. And the parents? They assume I’m a little harsh. But, it’s all good.”
- “In an era of excessive individualism, our markings and modifications are viewed not as a sign of freakishness or outlier tendencies but as an expression of personal taste.”
- Would you consider getting a tattoo? Explain why or why not.
- List 3 questions they would like to pursue in relation to this topic.
1-Minute Free Writing Exercise
Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to also write down one thing they did not understand in the reading. Review the responses as a class.