Virtual Conference

Presentation Title: Children’s “Beauty” Discourses and Critical Media Literacy
Presenter: Galatia Kallitsi

Abstract: This paper aims to analyse children’s “beauty” discourses, by exploring their interpretations of the concept of “beauty”. The paper also aims to investigate the role of Critical Media Literacy approaches in cultivating children’s agency on issues related to beauty. The study’s theoretical framework relies on feminist perspectives on beauty, namely, on approaches that interpret beauty as oppression and approaches that view beauty as empowerment. This paper is based on an ethnographic approach. The sample consists by twenty-four children between 8-13 years old in Cyprus. Data were collected by interviews that were conducted in children’s home space, through focus groups with children in the school setting and through the implementation of an educational intervention (6th grade of primary school) based on the Critical Media Literacy approach. Results indicate that children’s discourses follow feminist theory debates regarding beauty. Children’s views illuminate aspects of “beauty” both as a source of oppression and as a source of empowerment. Children also attribute to beauty a moral dimension, through complex connections between “good” and “beautiful”. Moreover, results show that Critical Media Literacy interventions contribute in enhancing children’s agency and critical thinking skills towards beauty messages promoted by the media. However, there is a fluid relationship between “knowledge” and “desire”, since children’s ability for critical interpretation of issues relating to beauty does not necessarily erase influence or pleasure that beauty messages bring to children.

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