Participants understand that there is a narrow definition of beauty presented in their society.
One large sheet of paper for each small group
One extra sheet
Note for leaders: In this activity, the image of a popular fairy tale princess is used to help participants identify the limited, narrow definition of beauty promoted in their society. Because younger participants may have experienced less media exposure, the activity focuses generally on the idea that girls are told they need to look a certain way to be beautiful, and that this idea isn’t true. It intentionally doesn’t explore the concept in depth or spend too long breaking down the features of the ‘perfect-looking’ girl.
Divide the girls into groups
Ask each group to choose a popular fairy-tale princess character they all know, and spend five minutes drawing a picture to show what their character looks like.
Encourage group members to discuss the character’s specific appearance features (e.g. long hair, blue eyes) as they draw.
Focus on what the character looks like, rather than what she is wearing.
Bring the groups into one circle and put all the drawings in the middle.
On another sheet of paper, write at the top the ‘perfect-looking’ princess?’
Look at all these great drawings! Do you think the princesses share similar features in the way they look? Let’s see how many ways they look alike that we can spot.
If the group gets stuck, help them with questions eg: “are they tall or short?” “What does her body look like?”
When the group has finished creating the list, read the features back to them.
So the ‘perfect-looking’ princess has…
(read out all the features on the list).
Talk through the following questions, encouraging participants to shout out their answers
Ask afterwards: Isn’t it strange how similar all these princesses look? (Yes!)
Can you think of other places we see this princess look? (Media, TV, toys, celebrities etc)
In real life, do lots of girls have all these features?” (No)
Sometimes it feels like the world around us is telling us there’s only one way to look beautiful, and we should all try to match that look. The way princesses are shown to us in films and on the television is one way we get sent the message that girls and women should look a certain way.
So do you think there’s really only one way to be beautiful? (No)
You’re right. Actually, we often get told the story that there’s only one way to be beautiful. The list you wrote describes the look that’s shown a lot in our society. But it’s not true – there are lots of ways to be beautiful. There’s no such thing as a perfect look!Cross out the words ‘the perfect-looking princess’ that you wrote at the top of your list.
We know there can’t be just one way to look beautiful, because even in this group we all look different and that’s even truer if you travel around the world. So let’s explore some of the many different ways people can be seen as beautiful around the world.
At the end of this activity, take the princess pictures away. They represent the unrealistic look expected by society so should not be displayed out of the context of this activity.