happy and rich or beautiful and poor?

body image is a tricky subject over here. i'm not sure if it's because i work at a mostly all girls school, or if it's because my office is made up of about 20 women and one man (poor, poor man), or what it is, but it seems like people have a very strict sense of what a beautiful body type is, and they're really aware of what is not beautiful.  

stick-skinny girls are beautiful. if you have some fat on your arms, if you have some round cheeks, if you squeeze your big butt into your pants, if you have a little roll hanging over the top of your skirt, you are in danger of being labeled "the fat one." seriously, if we're referencing one thai teacher in our office with another thai teacher, they have no problem going, "oh, are you talking about the fat one?"  

my students will sometimes call me over just to point out how fat their friends are (thai students seem to be notorious for throwing their friends under the bus and embarrassing the hell out of them whenever they can). they'll point to the fat ones and go, "ugly! ugly!" i don't know if i've ever heard a thai person call anyone even slightly overweight gorgeous (save for white people...we're always beautiful to them).  

i was doing would-you-rather questions with my 10th graders a while back, and the question was "would you rather be poor and happy, or rich and sad?" out of probably 400 students, maybe 20 said the poor/happy option. today i read this article about happiness with my smart 12th graders, and it posed a similar (but more detailed) would-you-rather situation. out of the five girls that were there, three definitively chose the handsome, rich, lonely, stressed situation over the ugly, poor, surrounded by friends, happy situation.  

in all cases, these students made their choices not based on money, but on looks. when i pushed the kids for why they picked what they did, they all went, "you get to be handsome! drop-dead gorgeous!"  

i've been trying to figure out a way to do a lesson on beauty and confidence, and how any body type can be sexy if you just own it, but i can't figure out a good way to make it interesting and not just nicki lectures her students on how to be better people. *sigh*

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