Self-Hatred and the Aesthetics of Beauty in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Topic: Discuss the issues of self-hatred and the aesthetics of beauty in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. What role do they play in the novel and how do they relate to its theme?
Self-hatred leads to self-destruction…
Self-hatred is something that can thoroughly destroy an individual. As it was fictitiously evidenced in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, it can lead an individual to insanity. Toni Morrison raises the idea that racism and class can detrimentally influence people’s outlook on themselves.
It is unfortunate that we live in a society that places such a great emphasis and consideration towards the aesthetics of beauty. What is more unfortunate is that beauty itself is not defined by any realistic qualities or pragmatics. Rather it is defined by society and what the particular or dominant class in society feels beauty is. In today’s society in order for a woman to be looked at as beautiful she must posses a combination of qualities, such as, a slim body, straight hair, fair skinned, full lips, straight sort of raised nose and so on. In the society that the Breedloves lived in, beauty had a lot to do with racism and the dominant class that influenced it. To be a woman of beauty in that society you had to be blond hair, blue eyed and fair skinned. If you couldn’t exactly look like that the closer you came to it the better you were viewed. You also had to behave in a certain manner i.e. well groomed, soft spoken, and have high morals. In other words you had to look like a stereo typical European and for colored women loose all the funky things that made them who they were: “The careful development of thrift, patience, high morals, and good manners. In short, how to get rid of the funkiness. The dreadful funkiness of passion, the funkiness of nature, the funkiness of the wide range of human emotions.” (P. 83)
For the Breedloves what society defined as beauty was not something they felt
they could ever be. They were condemn by society for being ugly and they themselves succumb to that labeling. They never tried to rise above it and thus raised their children in the same manner. This created a feeling of self-hatred and worthlessness in their children especially their young daughter Pecola. From birth Pecola was said to be ugly by her mother and the poor child was never given a chance to ever establish herself: “But I knowed she was ugly. Head full of pretty hair, but Lord she was ugly.” (p.128) She was never loved but rather she was neglected and made to have self-contempt because she didn’t look like someone that her parents and society would love. She disliked herself so much that she started fantasizing, dreaming and praying that she was a pretty blue eyed girl whom her parents would love: “It had occurred to Pecola some time ago that if her eyes, those eyes that held the pictures, and knew the sights—if those eyes of hers...