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Beauty is dangerous, especially when you lack it. In the book "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison, we witness the effects that beauty brings. Specifically the collapse of Pecola Breedlove, due to her belief that she did not hold beauty. The media in the 1940's as well as today imposes standards in which beauty is measured up to; but in reality beauty dwells within us all whether it's visible or not there's beauty in all; that beauty is unworthy if society brands you with the label of being ugly.
In the 1940's as well as present day, the media pushed on society an image of perfection and beauty. This image is many times fake, but the naive cannot deceive, and it can become an icon of beauty. If you do not fall within the image then you are ugly. In the book "The Bluest Eye," we witness the power that the media has on specific characters: Pecola Breedlove, Claudia and Frieda MacTeer. The icon of beauty at that point in time is Shirley Temple, a white girl with blond hair and blue eyes. She is also the first reference to beauty in the book. Claudia explains her feelings towards Shirley Temple by saying, "...I had felt a stranger, more frightening thing than hatred for all the Shirley Temples of the world" (19). Claudia is relating the hatred that she felt towards Shirley Temple to the envy she has towards girls who are beautiful like Shirley. Claudia herself knows that the media is trying to imply this image she says, "Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signsall the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured" (20). This idea is repeated repetitively throughout the story, the idea that blue-eyed is beautiful. Frieda and Pecola love Shirley Temple while Claudia despises her with envy. Pecola once goes to purchase some candies called Mary Janes, she is very intrigued by the blue-eyed, blond girl in the wrapper. The narrator tells us that Pecola feels Mary Jane's eyes are pretty and that by eating the candy she feels the love that she has for the girl on the wrapper and she finds herself closer to her (50). The idea pushed by the media that blue eyes are beautiful builds up a strong destructive desire in Pecola.
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No one is truly ugly, we all posses a beauty whether it be virtual or visual. In the book we learn that the Breedloves were not ugly, "they believed that they were ugly" (38). Their belief that they were ugly made them ugly. Sometimes when one is attached to an idea after awhile that idea becomes a reality even if it is not true, that is what occurred to the Breedloves. The Breedloves were at the bottom of the social ladder. With them being at the bottom it was a simple task for others to boost up their self-esteem by comparing themselves to the Breedloves. The way they portrayed themselves as ugly was painted by the fabricated idea that they were ugly, and the people surrounding them enforcing the idea. We learn how Mrs. Breedlove acquires this ugliness when she is at the movies and she looses a tooth, from that moment on her whole life turns upside down and she no longer tries to exhibit her beauty but rather let it go. Cholly Breedlove on the other hand, acquires his ugliness through the humiliations he has undergone; starting with the one when he was young and was caught having sexual relations by two white men and they insisted he continue while they watched. The beauty of his character was then stolen and he started to fall into the ugliness he had earned by his actions. Those being: beating Mrs. Breedlove and raping Pecola. At the end of the book Claudia says, "All of our waste which we dumped on her and which she absorbed. And all of our beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us" (205). This quote is talking about how Pecola was beautiful, but her beauty was stolen from her as others looked down upon her to only selfishly bring themselves up. Unfound or beauty that is covered up can be harmful until it is discovered.
Humans are harmful creatures and when they repeatedly push an idea into someone's head it begins to form a scar. Pecola is a victim of human cruelty. Pecola and her family are the towns image of ugly. She in particular is constantly reminded of her ugliness. For example: the instance after school, when the boys were making fun of her. We learn that the boys made fun of her to make up for their own blackness (65). Also, this label stamps her once again when Geraldine calls her a "nasty black bitch" (93). Pecola is an easy target to aim to make up for one's own flaws. Living in a world where all she hears is the same opinion over and over that she is ugly, eventually collapses Pecola. Pecola collapses at the end after she becomes pregnant by her father. Her being pregnant only makes her uglier in the eyes of the people. This causes Pecola to become crazy. She becomes delusional, she starts to believe that she does have blue eyes and talks to herself. The opinions of those who surround you can build a harmful opinion of yourself even if it is not true.
The lack of beauty that Pecola held destroyed her that force led her to being mentally ill, the media was an element that played part in her downfall, her beauty was buried beneath the scars people had brought to her. Beauty is something we all want, but when it is not visible to the eye it can have damaging effects. Beauty is a destructive force that brings pain to those who do not hold it.
Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Penguin Group, 1994.