Students will look at a variety of images expressing the idea of "beautiful" at the time they were created. We will look at how the depiction of the figure has changed throughout the years in artwork. I will try to show students a depiction of both a male and a female figure wherever possible. We will compare and contrast the following images (many of these images contain nude figures): The first images will be Greek sculptures from around 400BC. The male figure will be
by Myron, and the female image will be
Aphrodite of Knidos
by Paxitelles. Each of these sculptures shows a very hearty, muscular figure - the figures of the time period and the idea of beauty were modeled after Greek gods. Next we will take a large jump in time to 1500 to look at Leonardo da Vinci's
for the male and
Leda and the Swan
for the female. The male figure still looks very muscular and similar to the Greek idea of a male, while the female looks very round and curvy, much less muscular than the Greek statue. Next we will look at Suerat's
from 1887. These figures are still fairy curvy, but look like average women. Then we will look at where the figure in art starts to take a turn towards slender and emaciated in Giacometti's figural sculptures and Modigliani's elongated paintings from 1948 and 1918 respectively. We will also look at Botero's overly round figures. Lastly, we will look at images from magazines today. It is interesting to note how the ideal male figure has changed very little over time, while the ideal female figure has gone through many changes.
After students have compared all of these different images throughout the ages I would like them to begin brainstorming where our idea of "beauty" comes from. Using the information on the Media Awareness Network website students will look through magazines which they would normally read and graph the frequency of "skinny" models, "average" models and "large" models. Students will also be given this as a homework assignment to chart the same information for television shows they watch throughout the week. Students will use this data later to begin formulating their posters. We will then have a discussion about what "beauty" means, and how the definition of beautiful can be different for different cultures.
After we have discussed beauty we will again look at our examples of figures throughout the ages and rate them by "healthiest" looking to "least healthy" looking, citing examples as to why. We will discuss what a "healthy" body looks like - I would like to ask leading questions so that students recognize that both the extremely thin figures and also the extremely large figures are both unhealthy. I would also like them to notice that some muscle definition is healthy, in order to recognize that being active is important.
Next students will take part in determining what healthy is for themselves personally. Students will take part in determining their body mass index (BMI). The website http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/bmi/ contains BMI calculators for both adults and teens. Your BMI is determined using your height and weight. It gives you the range of body fat which is acceptable for your height and weight. If your BMI is below 18.5 then you are underweight. A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9 for an adult, and a BMI above 24.9 is overweight. The teen calculator has slightly more complex calculations, and is different for boys and girls. It will calculate a BMI for anyone between the ages of two and twenty. I would like to have my students determine their own BMI. Once students have this information we will discuss how each of the images we are looking at meets the criteria of being healthy, and how and why the BMI is a better determinate of a healthy body than simply your weight. We will discuss how depriving your body of the nutrients it needs can be fatal, while giving it too much can also have the same effect.
Once students have defined both "healthy" and "beautiful" they will need to begin to formulate ideas for posters about promoting a healthy body image. We will look at examples of two companies that have tried to do this - Dove and Special K.
The Dove Beauty campaign contains models of a variety of different shapes and sizes, with the slogan "real beauty" next to them. We will watch the short film
which tracks a model being made-up, photographed and then completely altered in Photoshop before she is added to a billboard ad. We will talk about the way that technology has changed, and how it has affected the way we can manipulate images. This movie clip is extremely fitting for this course because students will be able to make the same manipulations they see in the short film to their own faces. I will discuss the ethics of this process with the students as well.
Students will also be looking at a series of Special K print ads from the website http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/educational/lessons/secondary/advertising_marketing/special_k.cfm. One ad shows a model in a bathing suit next to an overweight man and states, "Ironically, she's the one who's worried about her weight." Another says, "If only designers had to live up to the same standards they've set for us," and shows a male designer stuffed into a very small outfit. I would like students to discuss the effectiveness of these ads, with special attention to the focus audience. The smoking ads we looked at previously are targeted at a very large audience - anyone who might be tempted to pick up a cigarette. The Dove and Special K ads, on the other hand, have a very specific target audience. Determining the target audience of an ad campaign and deciding what types of images will appeal to them is a very important part of being a graphic designer. Trying to sell something to teenage girls versus grandmothers will boast two drastically different campaign strategies. We will use this as an example to discuss the target audience for the public service announcements that my students will be creating. We will talk about what types of ads might better impact teenagers.