The Theme of Race And The Perception Of Beauty Through The Prism Of White Beauty Standards
Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye, gives us the view of race and the concept of beauty according to Western standards. Race and the perception of beauty through the prism of white beauty standards is the overriding theme in this novel. Morrison brings out the idea of race and beauty as a concept socially constructed by an increasingly culturally diverse society. In this research project, I will explore the issue of race and the concept of Western standards by highlighting the circumstances, places, characters, and actions that propagate discrimination based on race and beauty standards. I will demonstrate that heterogeneous society, especially with blacks as a minority, are increasingly become accommodative, but there are still instances of personal biases from the members of the community, especially in setting standards of beauty, forcing blacks to have difficulty finding romantic relationships as their physical features do not match that of white counterparts. The white beauty standards make girls and women from the black community desperate for social acceptance in the larger society. The black women were conditioned to hate the color of their skins.
There are instances in The Bluest Eye where racism is not overt. By highlighting these subtle situations that happen in the daily lives of the characters in this novel, I will be in a position to discuss topics that schools and parents are afraid of debating openly in schools and at home. The author of this novel portrayed racism through hatred against blacks by the white characters. In this novel, the beauty and racial hatred revolve around a few white characters and some major black characters. Through analysis of this theme in this research paper, I will demonstrate that one’s race is not only defined by skin color, physical features such as the size of eyes and nose, or color and texture of their hair but reference by one’s origin, the socioeconomic class, and literacy levels. In this text, the concept of beauty is viewed in terms of Western beauty standards such as value, grooming and dressing code, level of hygiene, and virtue.
Western beauty standards have given the notion that white women are more beautiful than the black Americas. For instance, Claudia is given a white baby doll which sends the message that beautiful dolls can only be white. Another instance is the notion that the light-skinned Maureen was more beautiful than the other black girls in the community (Morrison 752). Claudia was an exception here as she did not worship white beauty and even imagined that Pecola would have a beautiful child even though she did not have the bluest eyes. The protagonists in this film suffered in their pursuit of white beauty standards.
By highlighting covert racism through the use of “whiteness” as a standard of beauty, I will be in a position to educate the black men and women that by appreciating the white’s people way of dressing and beauty standards, the value of their blackness decreases and the issue of self-hatred sets in. Morrison, in his novel, highlighted a case of a black woman who imposes ‘white’ beauty standards on her daughter. The fact that women, even in contemporary society, go a long way to fulfill their beauty standards shows that self-hatred is being institutionalized among the members of the black community. Black culture is suffering from the aggressive assault by the white culture.
In the research paper, I will explore the role of media in a predominantly white society, education system, and the community culture on institutionalized white cultural hegemony. Through these white hegemony and aggressive white culture, many blacks in heterogeneous societies appreciate the Western beauty standards (Taj 72). Morrison used the young girl in the novel who was obsessed with having blue eyes and fair skin. To many black girls, their skin color was ugly and made them uncomfortable in school. The girls felt that their friends were shunning them as they were not beautiful enough like their counterparts.
Through this exploration of this theme, I have understood how white beauty standards destroy the ego and culture of the black community. Morrison has demonstrated that as a society, we are susceptible to some hegemony that threatens the way we see the world and the value we bring to the world. Diversity in any organization should be appreciated, but negative attitudes are built around beauty based on one’s skin color. In this book, racial discrimination has severely affected the characters who have developed a negative attitude towards ‘black’ beauty. This research paper aims to present a reader with a sensitive topic that is not discussed openly and allow them to interrogate the theme that ended with the destruction and rape of one of the characters. The ending of this novel provides the readers with the lessons about the destructive nature of self-hatred, the danger of white hegemony, and covert institutionalized racism. The protagonists in this film suffered in their pursuit of white beauty standards. The purpose of white beauty becomes tragic in the end.
Morrison, Toni. “The Bluest Eye” New York (1994): 751-59.
Taj, Z. Jamila. “Existential Strife in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eyes.” International Journal of Research in Humanities, Arts and Science (2017): 72.