Addressing Body Image Through Self Portraits Based on a Disability Aesthetic

Brooke Colby, Visual Arts, Mallard Creek High School

Final Unit (PDF)     Implementing Common Core Standards (PDF)

200 Word Synopsis

Disability Aesthetics, a concept and method in visual art studies, encourages people to open their view of what is beautiful and pleasing to see. This unit introduces disability aesthetic to high school students with two years of previous art experience during a portrait drawing lesson. Students will read and write about society’s current ideals of beauty and beauty norms while creating a portrait that does not adhere to these standards of ‘normalcy.’ This will help allow students to redefine their personal identities as well as their personal standards of what is visually acceptable, especially in regards to the innate beauty of the human body. While investigating the idea that brokenness in the human structure can be equally or more attractive than the harmonious whole, students will also confront the notions of what it means to be ‘human.’ The background information covers disability aesthetics, beauty myth in western culture and around the world, and various relevant artists and writers. Students will journal about how body image and beauty norms play a part in their daily lives. Through reading excerpts, critiques of artwork, and Socratic seminars students will try to build a new concept of relevant beauty norms for the class.