Beauty Matters

Home>>Teaching Resources>>Online cross-curricular teaching resources>>Beauty in Contemporary Global Cultures

Beauty in Contemporary Global Cultures


In this unit, students develop their understanding of the economic, social and political forces which shape all of our lives through a study of beauty in contemporary global cultures. They develop knowledge of the world as a global community, and the political, economic and social implications of this.

They investigate the interdependence between people, places and environments in the beauty industry and through this study begin to understand the concept of globalisation, ie how what happens in one part of the world affects people everywhere. They develop understanding of the key concepts of interdependence, globalisation, diversity, quality of life, social justice and equity.


Students will be able to understand, use and spell correctly vocabulary relating to:

  • Global beauty culture

  • International trade development and industry

  • Subject Areas

    The teaching activities link with the following subjects:

  • Geography

  • ICT

  • Citizenship/PSHE

  • English

  • Resources

  • the internet, including articles on the website Beauty Matters

  • recent issues of several magazines and newspapers

  • scissors and glue

  • cards for sorting activity of the advantages and disadvantages of the globalisation of beauty culture

  • writing frames for a variety of genres

  • dictionaries

  • Learning Objectives

    Students should learn:

  • to think about issues of topical significance

  • to analyze and evaluate evidence and draw and justify conclusions

  • to select and use secondary sources of evidence, including the internet

  • to identify how people and places are interdependent

  • to use their imagination to consider other people’s experiences and to think about values and attitudes that are not their own

  • to identify factors that influence development and to consider the effects of differences in development on the quality of life of different groups of people

  • Teaching Activities

    1. Starting with students’ own knowledge of global beauty culture

    Students work in pairs to cut out pictures and words they associate with mainstream standards of beauty in magazines and newspapers. Encourage students to focus on mainstream perceptions of beauty in terms of race/ethnicity, skin tone, hair texture, facial features, height, weight, body adornments (jewelry, tattoos etc), body features (legs, bust, buttocks etc). Students use their cuttings to create a poster.

    As a class, brainstorm students’ own knowledge of mainstream standards of beauty for males and females. Consider biases and stereotypes within Western constructions of beauty ideals.

    Group discussion of ways in which science and technology enable people to change their appearance (cosmetic surgery, hair colouring etc). Complete a chart listing the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

    2. Building and extending knowledge

    Read Unhealthy US Body Images Affect World Beauty Standards. Other articles on the website, Beauty Matters also contain information that will be useful in answering the following questions:

  • How have standards of beauty varied from culture to culture? Compare the content of the articles reviewed with the posters created. What are some of the differences and similarities?

  • Who sets the standard of beauty experienced in Western society?

  • How has this standard influenced other parts of the world?

  • What are the political, economic and social implications of a global standard of beauty?

  • Discuss answers as a class. Introduce students to key concepts of interdependence, globalisation, diversity, quality of life, social justice and equity. Write up the results from this enquiry as a glossary of terms.

    3. Problematising this knowledge by identifying an issue

    Discuss with students the meaning of the term ‘globalisation’, ie. the creation of global systems where what happens in one part of the world affects people and places everywhere. Consider factors involved in the development of the process, eg result of migration, improvement in transport and communications technology, political and economic change.

    Use a card-sorting activity to help pairs of students to identify advantages and disadvantages in the globalisation of beauty culture eg empowerment of women, ‘parade of nudity’ in beauty pageants, pressure to conform through cosmetic surgery procedures, development of trade and industry

    Ask students to suggest questions for an enquiry into issues concerning the globalisation of beauty culture.

    4. Gaining understanding of a variety of perspectives on the same issue

    Split the class into groups of four students. Allocate an issue identified in the previous activity to each group as a topic for debate. Each student in the group prepares a speech according to whether they are to propose/second and are for/against the motion. Class presentation of group debates followed by questions and voting.

    Students choose an issue highlighted in the class debating activity and write an article for a newspaper/website to publicise the issue they have just researched.

    Learning Outcomes


  • identify elements of beauty culture and make connections between them

  • give and justify their own opinions about standards of beauty and ways of changing appearances

  • read critically and answer questions using a variety of sources

  • describe and explain patterns in cultural standards of beauty and the political, social and economic implications of these

  • correctly identify, spell and define key vocabulary in glossaries

  • identify how the pattern of beauty culture is changing as a result of many factors, including globalisation

  • identify how globalisation benefits some groups of people rather than others

  • use ICT to deliver an appropriate message to a specific audience

  • Home>>Teaching Resources>>Online cross-curricular teaching resources>>Beauty in Contemporary Global Cultures