True Colors by Malcolm Gladwell Informational Reading Assignment
What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures is the fourth book released by author Malcolm Gladwell, on October 20, 2009. The book is a compilation of the journalist's articles published in The New Yorker.
True Colors: Hair Dye and the Hidden History of Postwar America
Gladwell tells the stories of two female copywriters, who summarized in short catchy phrases, the particular feminist sensibilities of their day. The peculiar thing is that both of these women created advertising material for hair dye companies. The first of these women is Shirley Polykoff. She was described as flamboyant, brilliant, and vain in an irresistible way. She didn’t feel like her natural brown hair color matched the personality of the person she wanted to be. When she was a junior editor in 1956, she was given the Clairol account.
One of the products they were launching was “Miss Clairol,” a hair-color system that made it possible for women to lighten, tint, condition, and shampoo at home, in a single step. Polykoff’s thought was that if a woman had a right to be a blond, she also had the right to be able to exercise that right with discretion. “Does she or doesn’t she?” became the tagline for Clairol’s revolutionary product. The percentage of women who colored their hair jumped from 7% to 40% in two decades.
Commercials ran that featured mothers and their daughters sporting the same hair color as an attempt to undercut the otherwise sexual undertones of the ad. This allowed Miss Clairol to be seen as a product that wholesome mothers and women with feminist inclinations would feel comfortable using. As it turns out, “does she or doesn’t she?” didn’t just reveal the answer to what you did with your hair, it spanned further into answering the deeper question of who you really are.
The second woman is Ilon Specht. She worked for L’Oreal, a French company that was a competitor of Clairol. By the end of the sixties, women wanted to know, not just that the husband or boyfriend they “waited for” was worth it, but that they themselves were worth it. Speech ran with this idea and phrased her copy for L’Oreal beautifully when she wrote, “I use the most expensive hair color in the world, but I don’t mind spending more for L’Oreal, because I’m worth it!” (Quicklet)
This is teaching materials for a New Yorker article.
The vocabulary, questions, and research for this article are mostly related to the advertising and women’s equality through a study of beauty products.
Before the reading or the assessment, there is a pre-reading sheet that asks students for prior knowledge, opinions, and prediction on the subject, along with vocabulary acquisition (words that need to be introduced to better understand the information) and priming the reader in order to get them to think about the subject.
The post reading assessments included vocabulary acquisition, critical thinking questions, and recall or comprehension questions on one sheet. These questions come in the forms of a mixture of matching, short answer, and multiple-choice. By completing this sheet the student will demonstrate an understanding of the material on multiple levels. The student will also need to use the internet to complete some simple research to answer
The other assessment is a creative art sheet. The creative art sheet asks the student to use the details from the article and their own knowledge, experiences, and imagination to synthesize a totally new work, this is a picture that is a visual representation that recreates of details, person or maybe the student's use or view of an aspect of the article. Along with this picture the student will explain their work with a short explanation.
While these articles are part of Gladwell’s book “What the Dog Saw” they were all previously publish and are available free for download on the author's website and from the New Yorker, as this is the case I am including the article.
The materials provided
1 Informational article
1 Post reading informational article worksheet
1 Pre-reading informational article worksheet
1 Creative Art Sheet
1 Answer Key