Long Blonde Hair. Blue Eyes. Pale Skin. Straight Nose. All traits of perfection in society. So imagine the emotional damage this type of standard of beauty can have on someone with opposite features. Short Kinky Hair. Brown Eyes. Dark Skin. Broad Nose. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison highlights the life of Pecola Breedlove. Pecola, like many of her black counterparts, is on a journey to feel accepted in society. She believes that if she had blue eyes she would be beautiful and her parents would stop fighting. She escapes into her fantasy world to avoid the misery she is enduring in real life. She loves, borderline obsesses over Shirley Temple. At 11 years old, she’s plagued with insecurity and fed lies about her beauty.
Growing up, only a few generations removed from slavery in Jim Crow America, Pecola is deemed “ugly” even by the ones closest to her. She is traumatically raped at the hands of her own father while washing dishes and eventually goes crazy. This book is important for me to acknowledge during black history month because its theme resonates, even today. Black women and the double jeopardy we have in society, some would say as the mules of society, weighs us down. Our unique beauty is disregarded as “unattractive” if not accompanied by Eurocentric traits. For so long our people have been told we are not good enough. Our features are not beautiful enough and that we are at some kind of disposition because of the color of our skin; that’s just completely false.
I read this book twice. It was, in all honesty, traumatizing but so necessary to understand and fully grasp. There are so many Pecola’s in this world. Many of us including myself, have been judged by superficial traits that we cannot change because it’s not “white” enough. It’s unfortunate that in modern times, these issues still plague black people. How can we enforce change if we don’t deem our blackness as a statement of endearment and not a source of shame?
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