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8/4/2012 5:59:25 AM

Clay Dube
Clay Dube
Administrator
Posts: 1921
Subject:
There's considerable evidence from nature that signals about reproductive capacity and fitness play a big role in judgments of attractiveness or desirability. At the same time, history and literature offer evidence that beauty is culturally-determined. Students will certainly enjoy exploring how notions of beauty vary from culture to culture and within a culture how they vary from time to time and place to place.

Standards police might ask how exploring this topic satisfies social studies, language arts, art, or health/science standards. How might a teacher respond? And what sorts of primary and secondary sources might one utilize to teach about this?

How have discussions of beauty or desirability come up in your classes? How does it fit? What skills can be developed while examining this topic?

(For your reference, some standards are listed here:
http://china.usc.edu/ShowArticle.aspx?articleID=2073 )
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8/4/2012 6:06:30 AM

Clay Dube
Clay Dube
Administrator
Posts: 1921
Subject: on the beach
Detail from a New York Times photo by Sim Chi Yin (Aug. 3, 2012), article by Dan Levin, "Beach Essentials in China: Flip Flops, A Towel, and a Sky Mask":
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/04/world/asia/in-china-sun-protection-can-include-a-mask.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha22_20120804)

In China and elsewhere in East Asia, there's long been a bias in favor of light skin. Darker skin has been seen not as indicating health and activity, but rather prestige-free manual labor. In the Shijing (Book of Odes), there are songs celebrating beauties such as the wife of the Marquis of Wei whose "skin was like creamy lotion" or a splendid woman who had "hands white as rush down, skin like lard." These works are thought to date from from before 600 bce. In the poetry of the Tang dynasty (7th-10th centuries ce), we have references to skin like jade (white jade was especially precious and, of course, smooth).

So in much of East Asia, there are many products aimed at helping women, especially, avoid the sun or address its ravages. Visors, long arm coverings for bike or scooter riding, skin-lightening lotions, and more. Perhaps your students can locate advertisements for or photographs of such products.
edited by Clay Dube on 8/4/2012
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8/4/2012 6:30:16 AM

Clay Dube
Clay Dube
Administrator
Posts: 1921
Subject: footbinding
Of course, the custom of footbinding originates and is perpetuated because it signaled beauty and proper upbringing to some. The Chinese practice of footbinding is one of those things that capture people's attention. This can lead to a distorted picture of the social position of women. Here are a few notes:

Footbinding is one of the topics that every teacher needs to discuss when looking at the varying experiences of Chinese women. It emerged about a thousand years ago during the Song dynasty (宋朝,960-1279) and survived into the last century.

Not all women had their feet bound. Many non-Han ethnic groups such as the Hakka and Manchus did not bind their women's feet and it was much less common among ordinary people in the South than it was in the North, probably because women in the South usually joined in agricultural labor.

How are we to understand this custom and role men and women played in perpetuating it? How should we raise the topic with children? Is it enough to note that our own culture imposes standards of beauty that cause some to endure suffering, surgery, or psychological damage?

Below are some web resources on footbinding that you may find interesting.

California resident Beverly Jackson is a longtime collector of the shoes worn by Chinese women with bound feet. She traveled to China and interviewed women who had their feet bound and produced a lavishly illustrated volume Splendid Slippers. Her website offers short excerpts from the book, reviews of it, and -- of course -- a link to buy the volume. Combined with works by Howard Levy and Dorothy Ko, this is a good resource to draw upon in introducing the practice to students.

http://www.silcom.com/~bevjack/

Levy, Howard S. Chinese Footbinding: The History of a Curious Erotic Custom, Foreword by Arthur Waley. Introd. by Wolfram Eberhard. New York, W. Rawls, 1966.

Ko, Dorothy. Every Step a Lotus : Shoes for Bound Feet. Berkeley : University of California Press, 2001. Click here to see the UC Press webpage on the book. You can download and read chapter 2. It includes terrific images. Prof. Ko has also written "The Body as Attire: The Shifting Meanings of Footbinding in Seventeenth-Century China," The Journal of Women's History 8.4.
http://iupjournals.org/jwh/jwh8-4.html

Feng Jicai, one of China's most popular writers, authored an interesting novel on the custom and its place in family and social life. Three Inch Golden Lotus. It was translated by David Wakefield and published by the University of Hawaii press. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0824816064/103-0017646-1395814?v=glance

Yue-qing Yang's recent film Footbinding: The Search for the Three-Inch Golden Lotus is available and includes interviews with Chinese about the custom. In the film, Dorothy Ko argues that footbinding is routinely misunderstood. http://www.movingimages.bc.ca/catalogue/Cultdiverse/footbinding.html

Footbinding can be found in popular literary works/films such as Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.

What other resources have you found? How have you raised this topic with students?
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8/17/2012 11:17:22 PM

kcorbett
kcorbett
Posts: 23
Subject: What is beautiful
This is such a great topic...especially from an international perspective...I was thinking about how many Chinese girls probably died from infection etc when they had their feet bound. I think that the complexity of this issue/process truly resides in the individuals right to choose. These girls did not have the freedom and abided by the "order of relations" within the chinese social structure that was established as a component of Confucianism. This would be a great debate that I think the kids at my school would really enjoy. everything that they have done today is chosen by them....no matter how stupid many of these trends look. But what is the difference between a custom and a trend? HEAVY...they will love it.....
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9/3/2012 2:01:45 PM

Clay Dube
Clay Dube
Administrator
Posts: 1921
Subject: ny times article on dating in China
Last month, a NY Times article argued: "Romance in China is often sacrificed to practicality; dating has largely become a commercial transaction." (emphasis added) The problem with the article is the assumption that this wasn't always the case.
http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/romance-with-chinese-characteristics/

In fact, many relationships do grow out of shared interests and common concerns beyond having sufficient material wealth. But there's little question that economic expectations are vital for many. Some scholars attribute the rise in Chinese housing prices to mother-in-law/bride demands that the groom own or have the prospect of owning an apartment.
Xiaobo Zhang: Bride Prices and House Prices (video: http://china.usc.edu/ShowArticle.aspx?articleID=2397 or at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCLl7zdYoCY&lr=1&feature=mhum)
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9/28/2012 9:04:53 PM

hsakuma
hsakuma
Posts: 62
Subject: Beauty is in the eye of beholder: Reflect on your own beauty?
Interesting topic.

From this year, I am implementing Common Core Standards to my Economics and Japanese program. I decided to use PBL (Problem Based Learning) approach to experiment for this year. It seems that PBL is the answer to the Common Core Standards to me. I will utilize this for the Unit#1 of China lesson plan, too. Essential Questions will drive students to use higher-level thinking to solve a real-world problems in own community. < 'Product'

Back in Heian period, Japanese women tint their teeth black, shaved their eye brows, wrote two black dot on her forehead.
Many indigenous people in Asia and Africa are into various body modifications, tatooes, etc. It would be interesting for students to find out from all over the world (each regions and continent?) and analyze today's beauty standards.

http://asianhistory.about.com/od/japan/ig/Beauties-of-Heian-Japan/Heian-Day-dreamer.htm
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10/5/2012 12:06:51 PM

jkim
jkim
Posts: 35
Subject: Can we use beauty and desirability interchangeably?
To the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese army, Hilter and emperor's ambitions might have been desirable but never beautiful. During the time of war, the soldiers of both countries gave their lives for the cause. It may be desirable for their countries' future. However, modern man knows very well neither Imperial army of Japan nor the soldiers of Hilter, invading other countries were beautiful. People instinctively know right from wrong when it was evaluated fairly, but colonizing other ethnic groups can be very desirable for national interest if they can get away with it.

The notion " History and literature offer evidence that beauty is culturally-determined," can be a misleading statement.. An events such as bombing pearl harbor, rationalized philosophy to invade U.S and killing many unprepared soldiers and civilians must be evaluated fairly by next generation and by victims.

A discussion of beauty and desirability in my class, I would ask students to gather all facts about the topic first both pros and cons. Then determine beauty without bias first, and have them answer what is right thing. Then have them distinguish the deeds of people in history who may wanted to seek beauty but it was their desires that reshaped conflicts and war in this world.
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10/6/2012 10:02:56 AM

mmaitchoukow
mmaitchoukow
Posts: 42
Subject:
I wish I had come across these articles when I taught 'Ribbons' to my students last year. How amazing and what a great source of information about footbinding. Loved it!
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10/12/2012 9:12:36 PM

smelchor
smelchor
Posts: 31
Subject: On the beach
I found this article particularly interesting. In several occasions, I have seen Asian women walking or driving fully protected from the sun. My friend, whom is from Chinese descent, explained that in China the lighter your skin was the more affluent people thought you were. He also explained that the wide hat and the gloves were worn to protect them from the sun to avoid getting suntan. Of course, I did not believe what he had said until I came across this article. Even though I had heard this before, I was in great disbelief, but then I began to think about how in other parts of the world skin color does play a role in discrimination. So this is nothing unfamiliar, we see this happening in America and in other countries. Did we forget how Michael Jackson was criticize for the change in his skin color. Perhaps the views of what might be considered beautiful have become taboo.
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10/14/2012 8:43:11 PM

aherman
aherman
Posts: 33
Subject: Lighter skin
Just read the article "On The Beach" and thought it was fascinating. Within five minutes I was checking world news on CBS and came across a similar article. This article links this value back to ancient ritual. Not surprisingly, it is a way to show that you are upperclass and not a farmer or peasant. Check out the article below.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3445_162-57532073/latest-trend-sweeping-china-lighter-skin/

--
Amy Herman
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10/27/2012 1:58:46 PM

abarker
abarker
Posts: 34
Subject:
I find this topic of lighter skin fascinating. It make s sense that in some cultures like China, lighter skin meant you were affluent and not a peasant. This practice of covering your skin and avoiding the sun was prominent with the women of South here in America not that long ago for the same reasons. I grew up here in Los Angeles, and lighter skin had the opposite perception. Having a tan meant you were wealthy and had the privilege of going to Hawaii or Palm Springs on a regular basis. It also meant you were athletic and a tan made you look sexier. Fortunately, that has changed a little, due to skin cancer. But I think it is sad that skin color still plays a role in discrimination all over the world. When MLK Day comes, I read a lot about him to my students, and it is hard to explain to 2nd graders how and why African American's were treated so horribly because of skin color. Ultimately it skin color boils down the climate our ancestors are from.
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11/1/2012 3:09:32 PM

cware
cware
Posts: 38
Subject: Foot Binding in China
In the seventh grade Language Arts textbbok by Prentice Hall Literature, there is a story titled "Ribbons" by Lawrence Yep about foot binding in China. A girl's grandmother comes from Hong Kong to live with the family. It is difficult for the family and especiaaly the little girl, who must give her granmother her room. The grandmother knows some English, but she seems to favor the brother, who has learned some Chinese. The grandmother gets upset with the girl's ribboned ballet shoes and demands the ribbons be destroyed. The little girl gets upset until she learns that her grandmother, as a child in China, was forced to bind her feet with ribbons. This painful old practice supposedly made Chinese women more beautiful. But it has left the grandmother's feet all twisted and aching. She objected to the ribboned ballet shoes because she thought the custom was similar.But the little girl explains it is not and dances for her. The two finally bond.
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11/4/2012 11:40:51 AM

mparrille
mparrille
Posts: 31
Subject: On the Beach
Found this article so interesting, and at the same time not surprising at all. I teach in a district that has a very high Asian demographic. Our last school Report Card stated that 65% of our students are of Asian descent. When these parents and grandparents come to pick up their students in the afternoon, many of them wear special sleeves, gloves, face masks, and hats to cover their skin. I had learned in the past that Chinese people see tan skin as a sign of being poor or a peasant, because peasant workers spent a lot of time outside getting darker from the sun. I laugh because as a southern California resident, born and raised, I treasure my golden brown tan I work to get each summer. I'm sure when I am fifty, I will be covered in wrinkles, sun spots, and freckles; and my Asian counterparts will have beautiful, light, wrinkle-free skin. But for now, I am happy to get my tan! This is a great topic to share with students and an example of how cultures vary across the world.
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11/5/2012 9:22:25 PM

zrichardson
zrichardson
Posts: 66
Subject: What is beautiful?
A case in point would be the similarities between Hawaiian nobility and some new world geographic areas in the Americas (Central & South) where obesity was not only the standard of beauty and desirable marriageable requisite, but also a sign of wealth (The perception was that, if people had plenty of economic resources they would eat well and look well fed a sign of abundance.
Also during the Renaissance the females depicted in the paintings appear to convey that large women were favored as a subject matter for infinite paintings.
However the female anatomy has been a subject to analysis since the down of time. Historically speaking the premier icon of female anatomy and its reproductive function is best embodied in the quintessential Venus of Villandorf, (in all lauded as the supreme mother of fertility in all her primitive voluptuousness.
Conversely, Venus, Botticelli’s masterpiece of ideal beauty being born the sea foam (no less) symbolizes a different type of female iconography, in that excludes any other rendition of female representation that falls short of the esthetic representation.
For our students desirable beauty norms are set by what is accepted in their immediate community.
For example body piercing is an acceptable a highly desirable way to achieve beauty by body ornamentation. Beauty is highly subjective and discussion about the subject should be threaded carefully, given that the western canon of beauty standards is at best myopic. For example Barbie plays an important role in the formative years of plenty little girls. In truth if the doll was a real person her anatomical structure would be an anomaly. Nevertheless, consistent with popular culture artificial constructs, Barbie is here to stay as a desirable symbol of ideal female beauty, literally sprung from someone’s imagination and manufactured by a toy maker.

--
Zrichardson

Attachments:
What is beauty.docx
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1/9/2013 9:20:41 PM

mapodaca
mapodaca
Posts: 36
Subject:
The pressure for a woman to get married seems overwhelming to us today, but it wasn't very long ago when that was the same situation for women here in the united states. In the united states the romantic notion of finding love was supposibly the ideal but deep down women wanted and needed to get married. Today on tv the advertise commercials so you can find your true happiness and these networks are certainly making money. So how are we that different from china?
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1/10/2013 8:26:25 PM

eleyva
eleyva
Posts: 31
Subject:
This topic is indicative of the racial stratification that occurs within many families in Latin America today. The perceived value that lighter skin has in that region is a legacy from the racial hierarchy that was instituted by Spanish authorities beginning in the 16th century. Having such a form of racial value based on skin color was designed to control and allow for an illusion of status that would facilitate a long term dominant and subordinate relationship. This regional relationship made it possible to transfer massive amounts of wealth to the "dominant region." I'm wondering if the contemporary value on light skin in many parts of Asia today has been influenced by the role played by European contact as much as by a historic view of dark skin as plebeian and undesirable.
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1/15/2013 10:11:43 PM

dsciarrotta
dsciarrotta
Posts: 32
Subject: What's Beautiful?
While gathering information for my lesson plan power point which was on body image and begins with an introduction using a history lesson on the Chinese practice of foot binding, I found multiple articles and sites talking about Asian's undergoing surgeries to become more Caucasian in appearance with the hope of getting better job prospects. Here are a couple of links which include videos also:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/omar-shahid/south-koreas-weird-obsess_b_888523.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/23/asian-patients-seek-plastic-surgery-western-look_n_865627.html
edited by dsciarrotta on 1/15/2013

--
Deanne Sciarrotta, Guidance Counselor
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9/15/2014 3:07:40 PM

dmtong
dmtong
Posts: 10
Subject:
As an English teacher, one of the things I enjoy teaching about is varying perspectives. This is especially important at the junior high level, or actually at any level. I haven't specifically taught "What's Beautiful" in my classroom, although I have enjoyed the show by Jessica Simposon called The Price of Beauty presented by VHI where she traveled around the world and experienced all the "beauty" that there is. Beauty is defined differently in every country. Jessica Simpson was on this show to learn that beauty is not physical attractive, but what's really beautiful in the inside. She wanted to feel empowered. I thought that the show had a great message especially for young girls. Right now, in my 7th grade ELA class, I'm teaching "What's Success?" When we teach our young students, we shouldn't put a price on success and what society values as success which could be materialistically. I teach at a low-income school, so I wanted my students to learn that success can be helping your parents with household chores. Success is coming to school every day even when they have to get up at 5am to catch the bus. Success can be seen through ordinary people who feel empowered by extraordinary things that they have done. This is definitely teaching perspective. As much as perspective is important in the ELA classroom, perspective is extremely important in teaching History.
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9/17/2014 8:27:37 PM

egonzalez
egonzalez
Posts: 32
Subject: Lighter Skin
I find the topic of light skin preference very interesting. The topic seems to transcend racial boundaries. As a Latina, I can attest to the fact that there is some concern about this in our culture, especially with the older generations. Therefore, I'm not surprised that light skin is preferred among some Asian groups.

The link below if for an article that focuses on Nigerian women's pursuit of lighter skin. According to the article, 77% of Nigerian women admit to using some form of lightening product. It also mentions the pursuit of groups from other cultures to lighten their skin, including the Chinese.


http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-culture/why-the-obsession-with-lighter-skin-20140203-31wil.html
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10/25/2014 11:58:09 AM

ybanuelos
ybanuelos
Posts: 9
Subject: Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong'o
Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong'o's Speech On Beauty That Left An Entire Audience Speechless


http://www.upworthy.com/oscar-winner-lupita-nyongos-speech-on-beauty-that-left-an-entire-audience-speechless
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