Beauty Begins Inside.
Produced by the National Film Board.
Grades 6 - 8 / Ages 11 - 13.
The three video tapes in the Beauty Begins Inside series aim to influence the eating habits of adolescents while exploring the issues of puberty and body image. The videos are clever and fast-paced, combining animation with scenes involving real teens. The rapid succession of images and quips did, however, sometimes obscure the key points.
The P Syndrome looks at the changes of puberty and some of the choices that come with these changes. The animation, which involved close ups of talking mouths and moving feet (never the faces and bodies that went with them) was quite clever, although it became tedious after a while. The video did address the important issues of visible body changes, particularly fat development (for girls), muscle mass and skin changes. While I appreciated the attention given to genetic influences, individual body types, and the acceptance of one's body as unique and attractive, I had some trouble with the description of puberty, first as a "syndrome" and then as "a painfully, pugnacious and prickly problem" (hence, The P Syndrome) - not a very positive position from which to promote acceptance, even if it is witty and clever
The Pressure Zone seeks to explore the messages bombarding teens from the diet and image industries. Two mirrors do battle to win the teens' allegiance. One represents the diet and muscle building "solutions" to the problems presented by the changing adolescent body. The second mirror speaks of the value of meditation and herbal remedies. "Freddy," the personal trainer, presents a delightful mockery of the destructive promoters of extreme dieting and extensive exercise or muscle building. I appreciated the stress on balance and moderation in all approaches and the criticism of "quick fixes" and short cuts. I did wonder if young teens or pre-teens would pick up on all of the tongue-in-cheek messages.
The third video in the series, What's Eating You?, seeks to answer the question, "How do you convince a teenager that there's more to life than junk food?" The two young people in the video consider how advertising influences their food choices, how what they eat can affect their skin and their health, and whether or not there are "good" foods and "bad" foods. Reference is made to a food guide without clarifying that it is the Canada Food Guide. Because the video assumes that the viewers are familiar with the guide, one would want to have given students an opportunity to examine it before the video. The fast-talking, fast-moving style of the videos is most distracting in this one. The information on nutrition and the specifics relating to vitamins, minerals and proteins goes by too quickly to be taken in thoroughly. I was very pleased, however, that vegetarianism, a popular choice today (particularly with girls) was discussed with reference made to the complex demands of such a diet.
The three Beauty Begins Inside videos are fun, witty and entertaining. Although the grade eight students that I showed them to thought they were often "silly" and "took too long to get to their point," they were valuable discussion starters and did raise the key topics in the study of puberty and eating habits. They would, perhaps, be best used with a grade six or seven audience.
Donna Peters-Small is a teacher and counsellor at St. Johns-Ravenscourt School in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS ISSUE - JUNE 6, 1997.
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