National College Grigore Ghica Dorohoi

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BODY TALK WORKSHOP


Appearance for high school students is synonymous to being successful. At their age, looking good makes them popular amongst their peers, improves their social life, increases self-esteem , which in its turn, leads to better self-confidence, better grades, more opportunities and higher rate of succeeding in life. However, highschool also proves to be the most frail and crucial period of a teenager, who may have accumulated frustrations, low self-esteem and even lower self-confidence due to their constant comparison to false models promoted either by professional media or social media, creating a pressure to which only few students manage to overcome. Some of them may go to extremes to get the look the think they should have, girls usually starve themselves and faint at school , boys start thinking that tattoos and piercings or the latest fashion would help a lot. Most of them do not even realize how beautiful they are the way they are according to their age, they try to look more mature : girls by dying their hair or wearing too much make up, boys by wearing weird hairstyles, piercings and ridiculous clothes, working too much at the gym or starting to smoke. Thus, 10 students (5 boys and 5 girls), aged 16-18, took part in a two-hour Bodytalk workshop in order to put the theory to test. How much of the media influences the way they look like, and how faithful they perceive their self-image. The language of communication was English, and the workshop was held by Gianina Cucoreanu, teacher of English . The students worked in two different teams at the beginning.

1. Each person in their group had to write down as many positive things they could think of regarding their appearance , but also negative traits, things they do not like about themselves and would want to change. They watched the video DOVE: Change One Thing! Paradoxically both boys and girls wrote more negative things than positive ones, which clearly shows some lack of confidence and a degree of dissatisfaction with the way they look like. Only one boy wrote more positive comments on his appearance than everyone else. Amongst the most common negative comments for boys were: dissatisfaction connected to lack of muscles, the shape of their noses, the hair on the face, their big feet, unkept or unruly hair, some wanted straight hair , others curly, and one boy perceived himself as very fat. Girls, on the other hand, complained about not being tall enough or being too short, being too fat, not having full lips or beautiful complexion, not having beautiful teeth or the proper length for hair.

2. When they got to read the peers notes, both boys and girls made the following comments: “ oh, but you are tall”!, or “ you are not fat at all”, or “ I would die to have your hair” , “ without your nose, you wouldn’t be so cute, you wouldn’t be you” , and so on....which means that, most of their so called “problems’, were emphasized and seen as shortcomings, but in reality, they were not important issues at all, or not even realistic.

3. Next, they had to find the most beautiful man they could think of,(boys together) and the most beautiful woman (girls together), and write down the unique , beautiful features these celebrities have and what part of their body they would like to have themselves if they could choose. Boys described David Beckham as being their male version of being handsome, while girls chose Cara Delavigne, a singer to embody the absolute beauty. They argued and agreed on the most important physical traits, but they also had to write the positive and the negative outcome from comparing themselves to these celebrities. Will they improve their life and feel more beautiful by copying some of the celebrity’s features? What could be wrong on the long run if doing so?

The answers were amazing.

Girls’ positive comments:

-	It can motivate you
-	You can become rich and famous and get what you want
-	You can “steal the show”
-	Attract the people you hang out with

Girls’ negative comments:

-	You forget who you really are
-	Sometimes you become obsessed
-	Use make-up which doesn’t suit your face
-	Some people don’t look good with blonde hair
-	Lack of confidence
-	Low self-esteem

Boys’ positive comments:

-	Keeping fit
-	Boost self-esteem
-	Keep up with the Johnses when it comes to style
-	Being popular
-	Being looked up to
-	A successful  life
-	You can get to choose whom to date from a list
-	You can inspire others

Boys’ negative comments:

-	Lack of originality
-	Uneven beard growth
-	Unfit clothes
-	Change of attitude
-	Big chances of failure
-	Feeling uncomfortable with yourself.

4. All students watched two videos : Male beauty in the world and The Definition of sexy in the world and commented on how beauty is extremely subjective from a continent to another, from country to country, and how professional media usually sell us false images of what beautiful means, putting pressure on students their age to look either too skinny or wear beards and tattoos and earrings to be cool. How flawless images on the Internet, Instagram and other social media make them superficial in their search for the best photo out of 50 selfies, or the whitest teeth for a perfect smile and an endless diet to fit size 3. 5. Students had to fill in Activity sheet 3 individually : Be a Champion of Change! They had to write to themselves in order to start perceiving themselves with other eyes and change their attitude concerning their self-image.

Some of the comments:

“ I pledge to start feeling more comfortable with myself. I will try to be more realistic when it comes to the way I feel about myself.”  (boy)
“ I’ll focus on the surroundings when commenting on a photo on Facebook. I’ll post pictures with me looking natural, remembering that not all the pictures on the media are real” (boy)
“ start being thankful for how I look like” (boy)
“ appreciate my originality, being thankful for who I am, reducing the influence of the media on me” (boy)
“ think again before judging others and myself about actions, unaltered photos of myself on Facebook from now on, being ok with my looks” (boy)
“ to not use too much the editing programes just to seem like something we are not, use less make up, promote the idea of natural look, be yourself! (girl)
“ be confident and natural” (girl)''

The answers at the end of the activities really meant that students understood two things: that they are unique and their beauty is unique ( a boy said “ why should I look like David Bechham? Why should't he want to look like me?” , which was a shift of attitude I did not even think it would be possible to obtain in one workshop) and , that professional media and social media should not change who they are, but just merely improve some aspects of their life like taking up a sport ( to be athletic like David Becham, one boy suggested), that a positive attitude is the best ally in high school years.