Lesson Plan


At the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify what can influence definitions of beauty
  • Understand that perspectives are diverse and ever-changing
  • Express their personal definitions of beauty and apply this to themselves and others

Grade Levels

9 – 12


Health, biology, language arts, arts, current events

Estimated time to complete

Two 50-minute class periods or one 90-minute class period and additional time to complete personal project



“On Beauty” film and “On Beauty” study guide


  • Set up film: Ask students to think about how they would define beauty and examples of people who fit their definition. Have students write down their definitions and ask some to share their definitions with the class. Point out that each person may have a different definition.
  • Show the film: Have students complete the discussion guide while they watch.
  • Closure: Ask students to think about how they would revise their definitions of beauty in preparation for the personal paper they will write


Responses to study guide questions; contributions and participation in class discussion



Examples of how people with differences are commonly represented in the media and medical text books and examples that challenge these norms. Refer to background information and external resources for examples.


  • Show students examples of beauty from a variety of sources, which can include magazines, TV shows, movies or our “Beauty in Difference” gallery. Ask students to describe the physical attributes of the people in the photographs and their emotional responses to the images.
  • Ask students: Are there any common characteristics found in every one of these examples? Does every student react the same to each example?
  • Have students discuss how they believe their society defines beauty, if they believe there is a universal definition of beauty and what they think influences their beliefs
  • Rick Guidotti’s photographs appeared in “Life Magazine” in June 1998. Ask students: How have society’s representations of beauty and people with genetic conditions changed and/or remained the same since then?
  • The U.S. Census estimates about 19 percent of the American population live with a disability. A study by GLAAD found that in 2014 only 1.4 percent of regular characters on scripted broadcast TV have a disability. Ask students how they think television, film, magazines, music and other media impact societal and personal perceptions. Ask students to discuss how more frequent and more diverse representations of beauty could change perspectives.
  • Closure: Have students write down how their definition of beauty changed after seeing the film. Ask students discuss what viewpoints did or did not change and why. Have students begin writing their personal papers.

Out-of-class assignment

Write a paper about how to define beauty that draws from the film, class discussions and outside sources. The paper should have three parts:

  • Your personal definition of beauty and what factors you believe contribute to your definition.
  • An example of someone you personally know who you consider beautiful and an explanation as to how this person fits in your definition.
  • A description of what makes you different from your peers and how this difference fits into your definition of beauty.


Contributions and participation in class discussion; how well the student recognized and interpreted themes from the film; how well the student applied writing skills to the personal paper


Have students create a project that represents their definition of beauty. Students can use any medium including: creative writing, poetry, photography, painting, collage, performing art, etc. Have students share their projects with the class and write a one-page paper that explains how this project shows the way they see beauty. Ask students to also include a description of what they think makes them beautiful. Students can also share their projects online at our “Beauty in Difference” gallery.

<< Previous: Discussion Guide PDF version Next: External Resources >>