Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Trending What Matters

After hearing about the "Alex from Target" phenomenon, I had a conflicted reaction of moral duality.  On one hand, it demonstrated the power of social media.  Imagine that 250,000+ people in this world now know of this one kid from Texas simply because one girl thought he was attractive enough to post a photo of him on social media.  Having anything go "viral" is a demonstration in the sheer power of what the right tweet through the right channels can have on something.  But unfortunately, often the viral effect happens to damaging and humiliating events.  The case of Alex simply exemplifies our society's relentless obsession with looks.  I began to wonder what message was being sent to our young people, particularly our girls.  Will this "Alex from Target" effect perpetuate the selfie epidemic in our girls?  Will they amp up their obsessive display of self-objectifying photos just to have others build their egos so that they feel adequate and important?  What are we celebrating?  What are we encouraging?

As an educator, it is my obligation to use current events, particularly ones that impact my students directly, to, in the very least, get them to thinking and examining these events more critically.  They can draw their own conclusions, but I want them having deep and meaningful conversations about it.

I brought this topic to my 5th graders.

We talked about harnessing the power of social media for something more meaningful than selfies and viral photos and videos.  We discussed what makes a person beautiful and how beauty comes in all forms and all manifestations.  We listed humor, compassion, kindness, talent, effort, sacrifice and faith as ways beauty can be displayed.  I was inspired to hear that they really tried to stray away from physical beauty.  But there IS a need to discuss the positives of celebrating your most beautiful self too. We need to recognize and celebrate the beautiful parts of us.

And so the "OUR Beauty Project" began.

We have been learning about poetry and today's form was a diamante.  The topic was about defining beauty.  They were charged with creating a diamante about beauty and giving me a statement about what they find most attractive about themselves and why.  Then I asked them to respond to how they would capitalize on the sudden exposure to fame and 250,000+ followers to change the world.  Here are the results of this exercise.


"Popularity shouldn't be based on your looks.  It is your character, honesty, respect for yourself and others, and compassion that matter and make you important."


"Beauty is perfectly imperfect."
hidden, masked
veiling, misleading, changing
a million bucks can't buy a heart of gold
inspiring, world-changing, creating
natural simple

I would encourage people to step away from their phones, stop texting and taking selfies, and trying to impress social media with your looks and do something to make the world better.  


"My eyes are beautiful not because they are a pretty blue but because they see truth."

Outside beauty
altered, deceitful
fibbing, improving, covering 
Your truth lies inside of you
charming, shining, sharing
real, individual
inner beauty

gorgeous, lovely
sparkling, glowing, charming
grace is beneath the skin
hiding, disgusting, hating
unattractive, deceptive

"I would tell my followers, 'YOU are important! Share this.'"
negative, impure
repelling, distrusting, changing
the cup is half full
charming, loving, laughing
positivity, graceful

"I would tell them to follow their true self and live life."
Outer Beauty
untrustworthy, cruel
self-loving, faking, deceiving
true beauty is true to yourself
caring, loving, sharing
unselfish, good 
inner beauty

"Cherish this one day.  This is the day God has given you.  Start a viral revolution!  Befriend someone unpopular at school and start lifting them up."

"My smile changes the world because it is how happiness populates."

outer beauty
pretty fake
hiding, faking, worrying
you don't need validation
caring, loving, helping
kind-hearted loving
inner beauty

"My ears are beautiful because they hear the truth in people."

pseudo, phony
veiling, suppressing, cloaking
fake is a break
shining amazing alluring
exquisiteness glamour

possessive, gorgeous
boasting, bragging, gloating
it's the inside beauty that counts
caring, admiring, respecting
cheerful, compassionate

fake, outer
lying, hiding, trying
wolf in sheep's clothing
impacting, expressing, seeing
true, inside

Chris M.:
cruel, spoiled
bullying, stunning, hurting
don't judge a book by its cover
caring, listening, loving
thoughtful, genius

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