Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

My eighth grader decided she wanted to write about body image and the media in her honors English class. Obviously that's a meaty, yet popular topic among teens so her friend also chose the same topic. That's when the bright idea of crossing culture with the media's idea of body image came into fruition.

Here's where it starts to get complicated. How many different ways can we think of, off the top of our heads, to write about Polynesian culture vs. American culture in terms of body image. I already came up with five. Then my smarty pants daughter comes up with a great idea using the "normal" scale from her pediatrician and how her measurements from birth until now has always been off the charts. Now why didn't I think of that?

Explaining the idea of body image and Polynesians is going to be difficult. Do we look far back into our past? Do we evaluate ourselves now? I know we can focus on the hair (that is SO not the 'sich) or the facial structures, but where do we go from there? I always like to use the excuse that I'm big-boned and therefore I am heavier, larger, etc. etc. etc. But even among the Polynesian community I am tall for a female and so is my daughter. Can we still use that on the "normal" scale?

Our perceptions of what is good looking is definitely different from the average American (whatever that is). I have a picture of a well-known Polynesian sportscaster on my bulletin board at work and this older palagi coworker came in and said, "Well, he's no Brad Pitt." My response? "Well, he's MY Bradd Pitt." You see? Perception is in the eye of the beholder. Or was it beauty? Either way, body image, to be explained to the young folks of today, is you being comfortable in your body, regardless of what's on tv, what you're nationality is, or what other people say you should look like. When you look in that mirror, YOU determine your beauty. If you see yourself as the hottest person in the world (even if no one else does), that's okay! Your mirror, your wall!

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