In standard on what “beauty” is. Which makes

In the Bluest Eye, Toni
Morrison writes a story about Pecola, a young African American and the
struggles she faces through-out the novel facing issues including society’s
standard of ‘beauty’ of a young black woman in the late 1940s. The main theme
portrayed in this novel is beauty. In the Bluest Eye, the upper class creates a
standard on what “beauty” is. Which makes society questions whether they fit
the standard of ‘beauty’ or not. In the novel, the standards of beauty are
being advertised through media outlets, like television and even magazines. The
Bluest Eye demonstrates what society’s idea of what beauty was in the 1940s.

            In the novel, beauty affects almost every character’s
self-esteem because of the media outlets definition on what beauty is during
the 1940s. In the section Autumn, stated on page 20, “Adults, older girls, shops,
magazines, newspapers, window signs—all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed,
yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured.” This is
an example on what the epitome of beauty is that the media has created. The
outlook Claudia sees on the ideal beauty standards shows the struggles she
endures of idolizing the idea of beauty, even though it will not change
anything. Toni Morrison uses imagery to describe society’s ideal version of
beauty by saying that all girls ever wanted was “a blue-eyed, yellow-haired,
pink-skinned doll” that every girl would treasure. This ties to the theme of
beauty standards because, due to the expectations that society gives off, every
girl wants to be the perfect ‘blue eyed, yellow haired, pink skinned’ girl.

            Based on what the definition of what beauty is in the
1940s, African Americans lack attractiveness. “Except for the father, Cholly,
whose ugliness (the result of despair, dissipation, and violence directed
toward petty things and weak people) was behavior, the rest of the family—Mrs.
Breedlove, Sammy Breedlove, and Pecola Breedlove—wore their ugliness, put it
on, so to speak, although it did not belong to them” (38). Pauline, who is
Pecola’s mother, tries to mimic what she thinks is categorized as society’s
ideal form of beauty shown through media outlets. However, she discovers that
society’s ideal form of beauty is unreachable because of her different
features, hair, and skin. In the novel, African Americans define beauty of the “white
supreme” culture and those who match the ideal standards of beauty, similar to
Maureen Peal. Communities such as Maureen Peal, who was a light skinned, rich
girl, isolated the rest of society who did not match the ideals of beauty, like

            Additionally, Mrs. Breedlove accepts the fact that her
daughter, Pecola is ugly, so Geraldine curses her because of her blackness. The
belief that ugliness within people different of society’s view on beauty is
shown early in the novel with Mrs. Breedlove’s family. “You looked at them and
wondered why they were so ugly; you looked closely and could not find the
source” (39). This is saying that the Breedlove family did not inherent
ugliness, but that they were driven to believe that they were because of what society’s
standard on beauty was set out to be.

            In a society that adores blonde and blue eyes, being a
little black girl Pecola believes that she is ugly, because of what society set
the standards of beauty as. As Pecola stares into a mirror, she tries to
dictate were exactly the ugly came from. She is sympathetic of the dandelions
because she knows what it feels like to be disliked based of society’s ideals. “They
are ugly. They are weeds.” (50) Toni Morrison uses a metaphor to compare the
ugliness of the dandelions to weeds. The dandelions “yellow heads” ties to the
ideal blond-haired girls, which answers Pecola’s unasked question as to why
black women throw the dandelions away. To Pecola, gaining blue eyes means that
society will see her as beautiful, and that society will finally change, just
because she has blue eyes. “She owned the crack that made her stumble; she
owned the clumps of dandelions whose white heads, last fall, she had blown
away; whose yellow heads, this fall, she peered into. And owning them made her
part of the world, and the world a part of her” (47-48). A hyperbole is used to
exaggerate what Pecola thought as she was walking into the convenience store.
To Pecola the dandelions are weeds because they are unwanted and the cracks on
the streets look unpleasant, so it can make someone trip. Pecola ‘owns’ the
dandelions and the cracks because they have been considered unwanted and ugly,
like her. Later on, however she realizes that she hates them because it does
not feel good to be hated and unwanted, comparable to the dandelion and the
cracks on the streets.

            In the 1940s, society icon is Shirley Temple, because she
has society’s ideal characteristics of beauty, a white girl with blonde hair
and blue eyes. “But before that I had felt a stranger, more frightening thing
than hatred for all the Shirley Temples of the world.” (19) Claudia is
explaining the feelings she has towards Shirley Temple similar to the envy she
feels towards girls like Shirley Temple who are beautiful. Although Frieda and
Pecola adore Shirley, Claudia despises her with envy. This helps demonstrate
that, because of the standards society set as beauty, Claudia envy’s those who
fit the ‘standards’ of beauty. 

            Given these points on the beauty standards shown in the
novel, society’s ideals of beauty have greatly affected majority of the
characters. Beauty is a major theme in this novel, and one day in the future
hopefully we will not have to deal with problems like beauty standards. Throughout
the novel some symbolism is shown, for example when Pecola sees her parents fighting
it is them when she wishes for blue eyes. She thinks that if she is white or has
blue eyes, her parents will be nice to one another and other people will like her.
Beauty standards greatly affected Pecola.