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Teacher Lesson Return to "Tomgirl"
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Nobody Is Just One Thing

Read the Story: 10 minutes

As a group, read “Tomgirl” by Selena Garcia. Ask for volunteers to take turns reading aloud.

Art Activity: 30 minutes

Open up the activity by reading aloud this quote from the story: “But can’t I be kind and strong? Why do girls have to ‘act like a lady?’ Why are guys who show their feelings called ‘gay’ or ‘feminine’? Neither the male nor the female gender box defines me. I was always in between.”

Tell the group that many of us feel we are in between somehow and we’re never just one thing. Like Selena explains in her story, we’re often told by society how to look or behave as young women or young men. TV, movies, books, magazines, and social media all send messages about how we should be based on our gender. But these messages don’t reflect all, or most, of who we really are.

Pass out drawing paper and colored pencils/markers. Ask group members to draw a line down the middle of their paper. Have them label the left side “Who I’m Expected to Be” and the right side “Who I Choose to Be.”

Then, set out a stack of magazines intended for a female audience (Essence, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, etc.), and magazines intended for a male audience (GQ, Details, Men’s Health, Sports Illustrated, Esquire, etc.), as well as scissors and glue. (If you don’t have magazines, you can just use drawing paper and markers/colored pencils for this activity.)

Explain to teens that on the left side of their papers, they should cut and paste words and pictures that represent the messages that popular culture sends about gender roles and expectations. On the right side, they should use words and pictures to represent who they really are. For example, on the left side, they might include phrases from magazines like “How to Dress Cute and Get the Guy” or “Get Tough and Get Ripped” while on the right side, they might draw or write about how school is their priority rather than dating or how they’d rather make art than play sports.

Give the group 15-30 minutes to create their collages or drawings. When most of the group has finished, ask for volunteers to share their art pieces, specifically sharing some of the things they choose to be that aren’t represented in popular culture. As an alternative, you may display the drawings on a large table or central space in the room, and have group members walk around and look at one another’s work.
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