Lesson Eight: Deconstructing Media: Body Images

23 Mar

Subject: Language Arts
Cross Curricular Competencies:
Using information and media technology. Exercising critical judgment. To construct his/her identity. To communicate appropriately.
Broad Areas of Learning: Media literacy. Health and well-being.
Materials: Computers, white board and projector, pens and paper, magazines and scissors.

Time: Two class periods of 1 1/2 hours each.

Objectives: To critically examine western media representations of boys, girls, women and men. To ascertain what types of representations of people predominate in western media. To make connections between media representations and personal feelings of self worth.

Introduction: We begin by viewing a rather sophisticated and provocative cartoon video add for Nestle’s Kit Kat chocolate bar.


  • The teacher opens a discussion of the video by reviewing the elements of critical media analysis that were developed during the last lesson. The class analyzes the video and students share their thoughts and feelings about it.
  • The teacher reviews the concept about who is present and who is absent in the video and asks each student to make a list of the characters who are portrayed in the video, paying particular attention to their physical appearances, gender, and ethnic background. We view the video for a second time.
  • Students are asked to make a list of all of the members of their society who are not present in this video.
  • The teacher leads a brainstorming session of human characteristics such as easy-going, successful, serious, intelligent, absent minded etc. Students are then asked to write a brief character sketch of what they imagine each character is like.
  • Students are asked to share their ideas in an oral discussion.
  • The teacher opens a discussion about which character in the ad they would relate to. The teacher asks if it is important for young people to have media representations that they can relate to.
  • We look at the image of the young woman who is very thin and acts in a sexy manner to get attention from her co-worker, as well as the muscular and successful business man. This opens a discussion of body images portrayed in the media.
  • To conclude this lesson, students are divided into small groups and asked to look through magazines that the teacher has brought in, and choose several images that represent them, as well as several that do not represent them.
  • At the beginning of the next class students show these print ads and explain why they do or do not represent themselves. This follows with a class discussion of our society’s portrayal of beauty in the media.
  • Students make a list of attributes that are considered positive by our culture. We discuss whether these ideals are attainable or not, along with some of the physical, mental, and emotional health consequences of these preoccupations, including eating disorders, depression, stress, poor self esteem.
  • The teacher explains the advertising regulation that states that an item of food in an advertisement must be real. The teacher asks the class if they think that this is true for advertising aspects of the human body.
  • We watch the Dove video clip of the airbrushed woman.
  • We conclude by reviewing our discussions and breaking into groups to write answers to the following guided questions: Who does the media show us in their advertisements? How are these characters represented? How are these representations attained? Why do these representations matter? How do these representations reflect our self image? Do we judge each other and ourselves by these unattainable standards?

Conclusion: Assessment of student understanding will be ascertained through both contribution to discussions, written character analysis, and responses to guided questions.

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Posted by on March 23, 2011 in Uncategorized


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