DOI: 10.3390/rel15010029 ISSN: 2077-1444

“Beauty Ideals” from a Christian, Educational and Media Perspective: Dangers, Challenges and Opportunities in the Croatian Educational System

Danijel Labaš, Lana Ciboci Perša, Ivan Uldrijan
  • Religious studies

Today’s children are growing up and spending most of their free time with media, especially social networks, on which various lifestyles are imposed every day, including ideals of beauty that are often based on physical appearance and far from authentic images of the observed object. In this paper, it is shown how the topic of beauty is presented throughout the history of art, with a special focus on the presentation of beauty in theology. Additionally, the paper investigates how much the topic of beauty is treated within the Croatian formal education system, with a particular emphasis on the representation of beauty and to what extent children are prepared to critically evaluate the representation of beauty in different types of media, but also to reflect on the potential impact of such content on themselves. Research has shown that most such content is present in the subjects of Visual Culture, Visual Arts, Croatian Language and Informatics. The paper also presents such contents in the Catholic religious education curricula. In addition to imposed media ideals of beauty affecting childrens’ self-confidence, they are often the subject of peer violence, especially in the virtual world. Specifically, humiliation based on physical appearance is a common form of cyberbullying. To determine how physical appearance is used in such unacceptable behavior among children, all the posts that have arrived on UHO, the first online platform for the prevention of cyberbullying in Croatia, were analyzed. Research has shown that girls report such forms of abuse more often than boys, that cyberbullying based on appearance most often occurs inside closed groups or private messages rather than publicly on social networks, and that children rarely report to adults that they are the victims of such forms of violence.

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