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Body Image Presentation for Girls

April 22, 2012

5th grade beauty presentation 2011  <– click here for PowerPoint file

Some background: I am a fifth grade teacher, and I give this body image PowerPoint presentation every spring to a group of fifth grade girls. The girls are upper middle class and predominately white, with a couple Black, Indian, or Chinese students in the mix.  (Because not just the school, but also the community is so heavily white, this particular group of students needs explicit instruction on what Indian and Chinese women physically look like and on Black women’s hair.)

You’ll find that, in addition to the images, the PowerPoint has lots of talking points in the notes sections.  Please feel free to informally show the above presentation to your classroom, to friends, etc.  I do not have permission to use any of the photos, so please use at your own risk.

I find that the presentation is very effective and educational with my students.  It gets the girls thinking about impossible standards of beauty, as well as about race and how standards of beauty can be racist.

Next step: creating a presentation for the boys!  Any suggestions would be very welcome.

Some images (in random order) used in the PowerPoint presentation above:


  1. I think this is great. However I would spend less time focusing on the differences in what the media shows and what is natural and instead focus on accepting people of all shapes and sizes. For example why point to keira knightly being so skinny as negative, maybe show both women and explain that you can be beautiful whatever size you are.

    • Thanks for the comment! I guess I did not mean to show Keira Knightly’s skinniness as negative. I only meant to show the difference between “normal” movie star size in the 1950’s and “normal” movie star size nowadays. Nowadays, the norm is much, much thinner and much, much further from the average woman’s body size.

      • Of course and you do say both women are beautiful. It is definitely the best presentation I have seen in a long time 😀

  2. The main point I make to the girls is actually an economic one (tied in later with a self-esteem one). The more girls and women who feel ugly, the more money the beauty industry will make. Therefore, the models and movie stars who help set the standard for beauty should, economically speaking, be as far away from the average woman, looks-wise, as possible. (This is not to say that these models and movie stars are not beautiful. I am just arguing that they are selected for their professions in part because they have looks that are exceptional, that is, very different from the looks of the average woman.)

  3. The contrast between the photoshopped women and the women in the un-edited pictures was shocking! When looking at the pictures of un-edited women, I actually caught myself thinking “ugly!” We’re so used to seeing pictures of air-brushed people with unnaturally large eyes and flawless skin.

    Slideshows such as these should be mandatory in all schools, for all age groups! And for boys, too!

    The presentation could be even more eye-opening if you found un-edited pictures of the same celebs without make-up! That would really drive it home that no one looks as good as the celebs, not even the celebs!

  4. And I think even more interesting is that the more I look at these photos, the more beautiful I find all of the women. I think one of the most important things I say to the girls is, “Look at how beautiful these women are.” I think you’re right…because of their media exposure to photoshopped pictures, they’re a little surprised to hear me say it at first. But then they agree. It’s so important to expand their definitions of beautiful!

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