Leigh Davidson Leigh Davidson

Judging by Appearances
Upper-Intermediate level


In this lesson, Ss will discuss physical appearances--why we judge them; what we can do with them (how we can change our appearances and express our personality in a physical manner); and an understanding of 'beauty,' including a focus on the obsession with plastic/cosmetic surgery and how culture can influence our notion of what is considered 'beautiful.' Ss will read an article on plastic/cosmetic surgery, watch a 2014 Dove advertisement (which ironically defines 'beauty' as a psychological 'state of the mind'), and follow a Ted Talk, given by a model, on the importance (or lack thereof) of one's physical appearance in life.


Abc Are You Happy with Your Body?

Main Aims

  • To provide Ss with the opportunity for freer-speaking practice on the subject of appearance--how we judge it; why we judge it; what we can do with our appearance; and how culture influences our understanding of 'beauty.'

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide Ss with the opportunity to practice their detailed reading and listening skills, on the subject of 'beauty'--specifically plastic surgery and modeling.


Warmer/Lead-in (12-15 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

Write on the WB YOUR APPEARANCE. Elicit from the WC what they like (and, if Ss are comfortable, what they don't like) about their physical appearance. Use yourself as an example to warm up the Ss. Elicit from the WC: "Are appearances important in Turkey (how we look physically, what we wear, etc.)? Do people in Turkey talk a lot about other people's appearances? Why (not)?" Write on the WB this quote: "Don't get caught up in the 'look' thing. Sometimes...the first thing that attracts us to someone is their physical appearance, and that's not always a good thing because what's good on the outside is not always good on the inside." [Keith Sweat] Elicit from the WC what this quote means and do they agree with it. Refer to the quote and elicit from the WC some discussion expansion questions: --"Can appearances 'deceive' us? Can you actually tell someone's personality, based on their physical appearance?" --"Can we express our personality through our physical appearance (what we are born with; what we wear [clothing, jewelry, body piercings, tattoos, etc.]; how we cut/dye our hair; with makeup; etc.)?"

Exposure (15-18 minutes) • To provide a model of production expected in coming tasks and to set-up the productive activities

Divide the WC into groups and distribute the 'Appearances Questions' HO. Instruct the Ss, in groups, to discuss and answer 5 of the 9 questions in the HO. Following GW discussion, instruct the Ss to look at and discuss the second part of the HO ('Did You Know?: Interesting Historical Facts'). Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB and a general response to humanity's history, and deep connection, with makeup.

Productive Task: Plastic/Cosmetic Surgery (33-35 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive and receptive skills

Refer back to Question 9 in the 'Appearance Q's' HO ("What is the worst body trend that you know of?"). Write on the WB a list of some common PLASTIC/COSMETIC SURGERIES: HAIR IMPLANTS; RHINOPLASTY (i.e. NOSE JOB); LIPOSUCTION; FACELIFT (i.e. rhytidectomy); TUMMY TUCK (i.e. abdominoplasty); LIP AUGMENTATION (i.e. plumping of the lips); BOTOX INJECTIONS. Elicit from the WC which surgeries/treatments they are familiar with and which surgeries/treatments are popular in Turkey. "Are there any other cosmetic surgeries/treatments that you are familiar with that aren't listed here?" Ask the WC some activity warm-up questions: --"Do you think people who have plastic surgery are too concerned about their looks?" --"Do you think that teenagers (between 13-18 years), young adults (between 18-35 years), or adults (35+ years old) are more concerned about their looks?" --"What about men versus women? Who is more concerned about their looks?" Inform the WC that they are going to read a short article on plastic surgery in the United States. "While reading, try to determine who is more concerned about their looks, based on plastic surgery statistics. Are men, or women, more concerned about their looks? Are teenagers, young adults, or adults more concerned about their looks? After reading, answer and discuss the questions in the HO." Divide the WC into groups and provide them with time to read and discuss the post-reading questions. Bring the WC together for FB. "What do you think about the 15-year-old girl who received plastic surgery as a birthday present? Do you agree or disagree with her mother's reason for this present?"

Productive Task: Dove Advertisement (16-18 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Refer back to Question 8 in the 'Appearances Q's' HO ("Are there any examples of positive body image messages being portrayed in the media today?"). Inform the WC that you are going to show them a campaign that was launched by the company 'Dove' in 2014. Elicit from the Ss whether they are familiar with 'Dove.' "What does this company sell?" [T Note: beauty products for face, hair, skin, and body care like deoderant, face cream, body cream, body soap, shampoo and conditioner, etc.] "We are going to watch a 2014 advertisement from Dove. This advertisement is for an experimental product called 'the beauty patch.'" Instruct the WC, while watching, to determine what is the 'beauty patch.' "What is the 'beauty patch' for? How does it work? How do the volunteers (using this experimental product) respond to the effects of the 'beauty patch'?" Following a viewing of the advertisement, organize the WC into groups and instruct them to discuss what they observed, their answers to the pre-listening questions, and their overall response to this advertisement. Following GW discussion bring the WC together for FB. Ask some discussion expansion questions: 1) "What does this advertisment mean with its closing statement: 'Beauty is a state of mind'?" 2) "Do you think this advertisement presents a 'positive body message' for women?" 3) "Dove, the company, sells beauty products for our appearance (for our 'beauty'). Is it hypocritical for a beauty company, like Dove, to create an advertisement like this one?"

Productive Task: Culturally-Defined Beauty (13-15 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Refer back to Question 7 in the 'Appearances Q's' HO ("How can your culture, religion, or personality influence appearance?"). "How does culture influence our concept, and understanding, of 'beauty' and what we think is 'beautiful'? What is considered 'beautiful' here in Turkey?" [T Note: 'balik-etli;' 'esek gozlu;' 'selvi boylu;' 'sırma saçlı;' 'kara kasli/kara gozlu'; highlight the recurring focus on the eye as a symbol of beauty, and perhaps, the potent meaning behind the 'evil eye'] Project on the WB some unique and differing examples of culturally-influenced concepts of 'beauty.' Elicit from the WC a response to each of these examples [see details below]. 1) Myanmar: long-necks 2) Iran: women wearing surgery tape/bandages long after receiving a nose job (or never having received a nose job) 3) Kenya: stretched earlobes and shaved heads 4) South America: lip plate, which signifies/shows that a woman has reached maturity to bear children 5) Maori (New Zealand): lip and chin tattoos 6) SE Asia: skin whitening/lightening to create perfectly pale skin; being tan is associated with being poor and working outdoors 7) Mauritania (W Africa): forced obesity, to signify/show wealth and prosperity because of persistent drought/famine in that area 8) France: the 'au naturale' look, with little to no makeup and sometimes no removal of body hair

Productive Task: 'Looks Aren't Everything' Ted Talk (32-35 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive and receptive skills

Inform the WC that they are going to watch a Ted Talk by a Victoria Secret model (Cameron Russell). Project a runway image of Russell on the WB. Elicit a general response from the WC--what do the Ss think this Victoria Secret model is going to discuss in her Ted Talk. Inform the WC, if they don't initially guess, that Russell's Ted Talk is on the power of image and physical appearances. Distribute the 'Ted Talk Q's' HO to the WC and instruct the Ss to try to answer the questions while following Russell's talk. After watching the video, divide the WC into groups and instruct them to share with their partner what they understood. Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB. Focus on the final statement Russell makes in her talk. "Russell concluded her Ted Talk with a hope that we all now feel more comfortable with acknowledging 'the power of image in our perceived successes and our perceived failures.' What does she mean by this statement? What is the 'power of image' and how does it affect the way we view a 'perceived success' or a 'perceived failure?'"

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