Beauty and the Breast: Mobilizing Community Action to Take on the Beauty Industry

Story synopsis: One day Joe Wendell’s 16-year-old daughter announces she would like to have breast implants, and Joe finds himself quickly learning all he can about implants and the surgery. To his relief, he discovers that, as long as his daughter is a minor, she cannot legally obtain the surgery without his consent. Yet, distressed by his newfound knowledge of the pernicious beauty culture, Joe gets involved with advocacy for greater protections for teen girls in his home state, the fictitious U.S. state of Columbia. In this effort Joe is guided by the confident figure of Anna Pinto, director of a community center in an East Franklin neighborhood with a vibrant Brazilian‐American community where cosmetic surgery, especially for girls and young women, is a particular concern. Together, Joe and Anna work to extend their coalition and find sponsorship for a bill, which will directly confront the problem. The story ends on the eve of the legislative committee hearing with testimony for and against the bill still being arranged.

Skills: Through this case students learn vital skills in policy advocacy and how to craft testimony for legislative hearings on important public health issues.

Narrative Document for Students

Lesson Plan for Teachers