Beauty and the Media: Perspectives from Class VII

Class VII had one of our fullest, most engaged hours earlier this week when we spent a class interrogating conceptions of beauty.

We began with a silent, reflective opener: “What is beauty?” The kids shared some thoughtful insights.

Mani Wangmu – “Beauty is a pretty soul and a pretty mind is beauty.”

Sonam Chodron – “Beauty means those who are kind-hearted and a nice person and also who have a nice face and nice body shape are called beauty.”

Tenzin Norbu – “The beauty means something is very good and also very good shapes, like this rose is very beautiful.”

Then we moved on to examine what magazines portray as “beautiful.” The students made some very astute observations as they flipped through our pile of periodicals, noting light skin color, blue eyes, that skin is smooth and without warts, that none of the hands looked as though they had been farming recently, for instance, that hair is smooth, make-up prevalent, girl’s clothing particularly tight and skin-revealing, and a number of examples of male-female couples featuring the woman behind or supported by her male counterpart. Remarkable work, really, for a 15 minute introductory exercise.


magazine analysis by Dorjee Wangchu

We watched Dove’s striking one-minute Campaign for Real Beauty clip, demonstrating how make-up artists and Photoshop magicians transform appearances. As soon as it ended, they immediately asked to watch it again, and it’s been a hot topic of conversation both in and out of class for the last few days.

The kids then completed a quiet gallery walk around the veranda-hallway, looking closely at these affirming images by activist-artist Carol Rossetti and marking responses on bits of paper taped up accompanying each piece of work. Their comments reveal their careful attention, sharp interpretation, and compassionate reply.




Finally, they spent the last ten minutes of class creating their own empowering and socially critical artwork in Rossetti’s style. Below find a few of their, in my humble opinion, absolutely killer narratives:

shanti and tenzin

mani and konchok


Including this particularly presently relevant application:


(Avatar, the Last Airbender has absolutely swept the school in the last month. I’ve never seen anything like it. Arrows are everywhere.)

Have a (your-own-kind-of-)beautiful day,


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7 Responses to Beauty and the Media: Perspectives from Class VII

  1. Sumit Chavan says:

    At the time when I was at Jhamtse, i thought that children really needed much more exposure but now we can see the controlled and critical exposure is creating a revolution! :)

  2. Laurel Lhowe says:

    This is one of the most interesting discussions/writing exercises I have read about. I wish we has such discussions when I was in school!

  3. Mark Foley says:

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What I behold at JGCC sure is beautiful

  4. Beezy Bentzen says:

    What a quality education these children are receiving! Thank you, Sandy.

  5. Sandy says:

    ^_^ Thanks, everybody! The kids really did blow it out of the water; they keep every day fascinating and revolutionary!

  6. Pingback: What makes you beautiful? | portmantoaster

  7. Momma Kendama says:

    fantastic. just totally fantastic. Thank you for sharing.

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