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Racial Beauty Standards In The Bluest Eye Essay

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In Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, the character Claudia struggles with a beauty standard that harms her sense of self-esteem. Claudia tries to make sense of why the beauty standard does not include black girls. The beauty standard determines that blonde-haired blue-eyed white girls are the image of beauty and therefore they are worthy of not only attention, but are considered valuable to American culture of the 1940s. Thus, learning she has no value or beauty as a black girl, Claudia destroys her white doll in an attempt to understand why white girls are beautiful and subsequently worthy, socially superior members of society. In destroying the doll, Claudia attempts to destroy the beauty standard that works to make her feel socially inferior and ugly because of her skin color. Consequently, Claudia's destruction of the doll works to show how the beauty standard was created to keep black females from feeling valuable by producing a sense of self-hate in black females. The racial loathing created within black women keeps them as passive objects and, ultimately, leads black women, specifically Pecola, to destroy themselves because they cannot attain the blue eyes of the white beauty standard.
Claudia tries to resist loving white girls that her sister, Frieda, and friend, Pecola, admires for their beautiful features— blonde hair and blue eyes. Claudia does not believe that Frieda and Pecola should admire girls who do not look like them physically. Unable to convince Frieda and Pecola that white girls are not the only standard of beauty, Claudia begins to have intense feelings of resentment and anger toward the white beauty standard:
"I couldn't join them in their adoration because I hated Shirley.
Not because she was...


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...g" that she does not really care for white features and/or white girls but she must pretend to have the same feelings and admiration for whiteness. So why must Claudia pretend to like white girls? Claudia learns it is easier to love the white beauty standard than to fight it because everyone even black women believe in white as the only source of beauty. She cannot fight the whole culture—the media, her sister, her friends, her community and the white community. So Claudia must "convert from pristine sadism to fabricated hatred, to fraudulent love (Morrison 23)." She must fake her love for whiteness in order to survive in the culture; she must learn to hate her self to survive and treat herself as invisible object, rather than the socially recognized white girl.

Works Cited

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. Afterward by Toni Morrison. New York: Penguin, 1994.


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