Tutor profile: Shaila K.
Subject: Social Work
What is the greatest problem plaguing the field of social work right now?
I believe social work is burdened by a problematic history of violence and oppression. As a profession, social work has developed on theoretically flawed foundations that positioned service-users as incapable, irrational, delinquent, and unfortunate. This has led to a culture of condescension and a lack of reflexive critical analysis. Further, in the past few decades social work has pushed more toward direct practice, moving farther into the private therapy space and farther from the policy and advocacy fields. This has slowed the development of the field as less people are working toward macro improvements. Social work education is unique from psychology because of its philosophical and sociological lens. Social workers are trained to deconstruct the structures of society and advocate for more inclusive practices. However, with fewer social workers using these skills there is a need for more critical, socially conscious social workers to take up the cause of social change. Through research, advocacy, and policy work we can create a field where policies and practice standards encourage social workers treat service-users with dignity. We can increase the impact of our field and create a more equitable society.
Should I use an outline or write off the cuff?
This is a question of style and personality. Either method works and both have their strengths and weaknesses. Personally, I like to start with nothing more than headings. This ensures that I touch on all of the themes that I want to while still giving me the freedom and flexibility to write with creativity and leave room for inspiration to strike. For writers that are more scatter-brained and have difficulty staying on track, more detailed outlines are an excellent way to keep yourself moving forward in your writing process and make sure that the amazing ideas in your head are translated effectively on the page. However, if writing an outline makes you feel too constricted there is nothing wrong with simply sitting down and writing what comes to you!
How does colonization play a role in modern beauty standards and practices?
For my masters thesis I wrote about skin bleaching practices among South Asian-Canadian women between the ages of 20 and 30. Through this work I discovered that colonization as well as class division have played a large roll in the development of global beauty standards and subsequently, beauty practices. During colonization the West used beauty as a means of social manipulation. Through advertising and discourse, whiteness became synonymous with cleanliness, intelligence, modernity, and civility while dark skin was associated with uncleanliness, unintelligence, and savagery. In the present day, aspects of this imagery still persist. Many racialized communities experience a "colour bar" wherein light-skinned individuals are seen as more beautiful and placed at the top while darker-skinned individuals are placed at the bottom. Or course, many would argue that beauty is not everything and there are aspects of ourselves that we should value over physical appearance. This is true, however, beauty continues to hold social capital in Western society. Studies show that women who are deemed beautiful are more likely to have better mental and physical healthy, are given more opportunities for career advancement, and report higher overall satisfaction with their lives. Thus, outdated and prejudicial ideas about beauty prevent racialized women from accessing health, success, and happiness with the same ease as white women.
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