24 January 2013

A Girl's World - The Fat and the Skinny

What is a girl's world today?

I have been teaching mostly female students for the last couple of years and am regularly taken aback at how much they suffer over body image. Teens and young adults have always had to adjust to peer pressures and current notions of beauty. Yet today, "fat" has become the new "ugly" of the playground, affecting children, teens and even grown ups.  Obesity is indeed a growing concern throughout the world ( The World is Fat) and I am certain that those who travel in developing countries will also notice the effects of fast food on the population. A point to always bear in mind, is that obesity certainly does not reflect healthy nutrition - quite the contrary.

In many curricula, educators discuss health issues; these may range from practical first aid to more localized health issues which are pertinent in learners' environment. No matter how sensitive the topic of body image may be, addressing problems which result from the multitude of mediatic images which are so ingrained in our lives today, seems to me, also part of how health topics may become more relevant and engaging to students. 

500 Years of Women in Western Art is a great place to begin. It includes handouts and perhaps the video may be already a point of reference for learners. 

An interesting follow up, is the TED Talk by Cameron Russel, who is frank about her modelling career and the power of images. It's a great talk to use as a springboard for discussion in class and to link with healthy eating and exercise habits.

 Girl Scouts is another source aimed especially at girls from the age of 9 to 17. You can find topics such as bullying,  to other topics such as healthy living and science and technology. Women in World History offers a wide choice for teachers and learners, with  Modules to use in the classroom, Case-Studies to a bank of Primary Resources. 

Which Literary Heroine are You is a fun quiz to take, with surprising results.

A girl's world. 

My female students today study to become lawyers, engineers, IT technicians. As so many other  young women around the world, some dream of having a family in the future; all dream of participating fully in their society as professionals and equally respected citizens. Feeling despondent and trapped in their bodies should not be part of a girl's  life today.

Should educators address issues of self-esteem in the classroom?

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