You are here

Changes Over Time: Beauty Standards and Culture

1 post / 0 new
Joy Chao
Topic replies: 22
Topic Posts: 3
Changes Over Time: Beauty Standards and Culture
Changes Over Time: Beauty Standards and Culture

1.Rational for Proposed Unit

Students in the 21st century should understand how traditional practices and cultures change over time. Many of these practices have not only changed in their respective cultures but have also managed to influence other areas, such as the United States, as well. When it comes to beauty, understanding these changes over time can also help students further understand structural differences between women and men. While this lesson plan will focus on the changes, the lesson plan will also discuss how these beauty standards continue to influence socio-cultural understandings of the relationship between genders.

2.Skills and Content Objectives – World Language Standards for CA Public Schools, K-12
  1. Communication Standard 1: Interpretive Communication

Advanced WL.CM1.A – Demonstrate understanding of the main idea and supporting details in major time frames on most informal and formal topics of general public interest in authentic texts using paragraph-level course that are spoken, writing, or signed (ASL).

  1. Communication Standard 2: Interpersonal Communication

Intermediate WL.CM2.I – Participate in real-world, spoken, written, or signed conversations related to self and the immediate environment, creating sentences and strings of sentences to ask and answer a variety of questions in transactional and some informal settings.

  1. Communication Standard 3: Presentational Communication

Intermediate WL.CM.I – Make simple presentations in culturally-appropriate ways on transactional and informal topics related to self and immediate environment using sentences and strings of sentences through spoken, written, or signed language using the most suitable media and technologies to present and publish.

  1. Cultures Standard 2: Cultural Products, Practices, and Perspectives

Intermediate WL.CL2.I - Experience, recognize, and explore the relationships among typical age-appropriate target cultures’ products, practices, and perspectives in culturally appropriate ways in transactional situations and some informal settings.

  1. Cultures Standard 3: Cultural Comparison

Advanced WL.CL3.A - Describe and explain similarities and differences among products, practices, and perspectives of general public interest in the mainstream cultures of the United States, the students’ own cultures, and the target cultures.

  1. Cultures Standard 4: Intercultural Influences

Advanced WL.CL4.A - Describe how products, practices, and perspectives change when cultures come into contact.

  1. Connection Standard 2: Diverse Perspectives and Distinctive Viewpoints

Intermediate WL.CN2.I - Identify diverse perspectives and distinctive viewpoints on topics related to self and the immediate environment in the target language from age-appropriate authentic materials from the target cultures.

3.Lesson Plan

Level: AP Chinese

Day 1: As a starter, students should read about the practice of foot binding in Ancient China. These articles not only highlight what foot binding is, but the reasons behind why women were subjected to this practice. This is an example of a beauty standard that is no longer practiced but has continually influenced cultural understandings of women during that time period.


  • Why were so many women subjected to foot binding? In the 21st century, can you think of any modern-day examples of foot binding?
  • Think about the many “traditions” that your family or culture still practice today. Why do you think these women still continued to bind their feet? Can you see the appeal of “tradition”? Was tradition used as a justification?
  • The process of “binding” for beauty is not solely applicable to feet. What are other ways that women have to “bind” themselves in other cultures to be accepted and be relegated as beautiful? (corsages in Europe, the idea of ‘covering up’ in the United States, etc.)
  • Reflect on the last article: what are the cultural impacts of foot binding? How has it changed or reinforced intergenerational bonds? Did foot binding benefit these bonds or harm them?

Day 2: Brainstorm a list of 5 practices around the world that are related to the idea of “perfecting” the body. Students will probably need to research online or use their already established knowledge of beauty standards. After creating your list, compare, contrast, and discuss the lists in groups of 4.

Class Discussion:

  • In what ways does social media play a role in these beauty standards? Many have criticized Instagram and Snapchat as apps that further unrealistic beauty standards – what do you think of this?
  • While some definitions of beauty have definitely changed over time, others such as the value of fair skin color in East Asian countries haven’t. Why? Do you think there is a specific reason? Who/what creates beauty standards?

Day 3: Assessment: Form groups of 4 and create a presentation on a specific Asian culture that has a specific beauty standard/practice. For example, plastic surgery in South Korea or breast augmentation in the United States.

  • Guidelines:
    • Describe and explain the beauty standard that you’re researching. When did it originate? Is it still practiced today? Offer statistics of how many people have participated or have carried out your selected beauty standard. If there isn’t a pinpointable number, explain to the class if it is a rare or common beauty standard.
    • Research how the beauty standard or practice has changed over time. If it occurred in the past, do you see its ramifications in the present day? Has it evolved into something else instead? If it was isolated in a specific time frame, research why it was practiced in the first place.
    • Explain how this practice/standard influenced socio-cultural understandings of the region. How has the practice become socialized in the country’s culture? Has this beauty standard or practice impacted the ways that other people view women in those societies? Does this beauty standard only apply to women? Do men participate in it? How has this beauty standard influenced understandings of gender in the respective country?
    • Conclude with each group members own interpretation or understanding of the beauty standard/practice. Should people continue to play into these standards? Do you think we should have standards at all? Why or why not?