Students encouraged to dissect media’s view of body image
An innovative new website is helping students and teachers get media savvy on body image issues.
The See Me program, at www.seeme.org.au, is a web-based media literacy program aimed at empowering students to explore beauty and gender stereotypes and unpack advertising and media techniques, as part of the English curriculum.
An initiative of the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre, in partnership with Education Services Australia and the Victorian Association for the Teaching of English, the program also received input from students and teachers at Melbourne Girls’ College, East Preston Islamic College and Doncaster Secondary College in Victoria.
Melbourne Girls’ College Year 8 coordinator Sharon Gardner-Drummond said the program enabled students to act as peer leaders and teach their class a range of modules from the web-based resource.
“The students were also involved in trialling the modules, designing the website and then piloting the program in 2011,” she said.
“In the trial, the students loved that they were being taught by their peers and that every lesson was interactive and student-centred, rather than being teacher-centred.
“It was clear that they were learning important critical media literacy skills, not only about body image, but also about the use of language and ideas in the media, through the discussions, activities and interaction that evolved from each lesson.”
The site’s five modules cover gender stereotypes, body image, healthy life choices, fashion and cosmetics and ‘invisible me’.
It also includes a digital interactive look at the media’s photo-shopping techniques.
“The beauty of the website is that it is self-contained in terms of a curriculum resource,” Ms Gardner-Drummond said.
“All five modules have a wide range of activities from which to choose, they are clearly explained, the visual aids and advertisements are contemporary and historical in nature, and there are also many ICT tools readily available for student use.”
QVWC CEO Vivia Hickman said a pilot study revealed 79 per cent of students who participated in the program were better able to identify media techniques.
“The majority of students also reported to be significantly happier about their bodies and say that See Me helped boost their confidence and self-esteem,” she said.
“That’s a very positive response and a promising indication that this new resource will help teenagers combat body image issues.”