NewsHour Extra Feature Stories
NewsHour Extra features stories can help students identify and interpret
key issues in current events. This activity anticipates one class period,
but the follow-up essay might be assigned as homework, or in another period.
Warm Up: Use
initiating questions to introduce the topic and find out how much your
Have students read NewsHour Extra's feature story and answer the questions
on the reading comprehension handout.
Use discussion questions to encourage students to think about how the
issues outlined in the story affect their lives and express and debate
can write an 500-word editorial on the topic expressing their views and
send it to NewsHour Extra [firstname.lastname@example.org]
for possible publication.
Students are graded on their answers to reading comprehension questions
and/or their editorial.
Story: New Mannequins
Impact How Shoppers See, Buy Clothes, 11/22/04
1. What makes you
want to buy a particular item of clothing?
2. Do you think the mannequins that model clothes are the same size as
3. How do you feel about yourself when you look at models in magazines
and mannequins in stores?
Reading Comprehension Questions: (click
here for printout)
1. What changes have
been noted in clothing displays recently?
have begun to display their wares on shapelier mannequins and pants
forms. Tight, low-rise jeans hug the 38-inch hips of the voluptuous
pants forms. Plus-sized mannequins now appear in sizes up to 20, well
above those of the traditional sizes 2 to 6.
2. Why have these
changes been made?
Shops that sell
clothing will do whatever they can to boost sales, and shapely mannequins
appear to be doing the trick for many retailers. Women apparently like
seeing clothes on more voluptuous frames, since the displayed clothes
are hot sellers.
we put on the mannequin, people buy it," clothing retailer Fredy
Shabani told The New York Times. "The women love them. They see
the pants look good."
3. Briefly explain
how the "ideal" image of women's beauty has evolved over history.
the extreme hourglass frame of the Victorian era, women began to embrace
the skinny, boyish "flapper" look of the 1920s. In the 1940s
and '50s the size 14 Marilyn Monroe Hollywood "bombshell"
ideal was the rage, followed by the slender, leggy "Twiggy"
look in the 1960s. In the 1980s, women climbing the corporate ladder
influenced a period of more masculine, big-shouldered styles.
female shape in the 1990s reached perhaps its most emaciated incarnation,
with what was sometimes called "heroine chic," supposedly
influenced by the skeletal quality of a drug addict's body. To achieve
this, women and girls seeking "perfect" bodies often developed
eating disorders, emulating fashion models who typically were 5 inches
taller and yet weighed about 25 pounds less than the average woman.
4. According to fashion
trend watchers, where are these new ideas in fashion coming from?
watchers credit American pop and urban cultures for the rise of the
Rap artist Sir
Mix-a-Lot declared that he appreciated large posteriors in the 1992
hit song "Baby Got Back." Actress/singer Jennifer Lopez drew
raised eyebrows for flaunting her well-proportioned derriere, and R&B
group Destiny's Child produced the song "Bootylicious" in
tribute to feminine curves and sexuality. Rap artists Queen Latifah
and Missy Elliot showed the world that stars can be big and beautiful
5. What have some
critics said about the new fashion trends?
people see the emphasis on a rounder rump as another step toward cultural
executive vice president of mannequin design company Adel Rootstein
USA told The New York Times, "It's not creating an image of a woman
as an elegant creature. It's a little bit down and dirty, a little crass."
(more research might be needed):
1. Some people say
that people are more likely to buy something if the mannequin modeling
the clothing looks very beautiful and aspirational - many would want their
bodies to look like that ideal though it is often very unrealistic. Others
say that the opposite is true. People are more likely to buy something
if the mannequin is realistic and looks more like average people. What
do you think? Explain your answer.
2. Why do you think
the standard or "ideal" for beauty has changed throughout history?
What impacts these changes in our culture?
3. Do you like the
new popular fashions that showcase tight clothing and low-rise jeans?
Why or why not?
Write a 500-800 word
essay on any of these topics providing clear examples. Send your completed
editorial to NewsHour Extra [email@example.com].
Exceptional essays might be published on our Web site.