Standards of Beauty: A Look at How Conformity Establishes Identity How do you define beauty? Is it something that is acquired? Or is it a privilege that is bestowed on certain individuals? The society within The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison, establishes a certain standard to which its members must conform to. This conformity is also present in Dick Hebdige’s Subculture: The Meaning of Style. His novel serves as a reflection of today’s society with the presence of mass media and their guidelines for acceptance. By providing evidences from the text, Morrison presents a way for us to see the characters lust to conform to the standards of beauty. Pauline's loneliness or Pecola's constant yearning for blue eyes, are examples Morrison uses to show the effect that beauty has on their development. In the end, the idea of beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. However, different cultural ideologies that are imposed in society can influence an individual's identity and present conformity as the only option for happiness. In the novel, we see Pauline struggle in an attempt to conform to the standards of beauty. However, her attempts prove to be destructive to her personal development. Her attempt originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in loneliness and inadequacy. When Pauline loses her front tooth, it becomes a determining event in her life. Morrison describes this event by introducing the conditions that led up to it, "But even before the little brown speck, there must have been the conditions, the setting that would allow it to exist in the first place" (116). In an attempt to quell her loneliness, Pauline resorts to frequent visits to the movie house where she's introduced to romance and the importance of physical beauty. However, her trips to the movie house have a devastating effect on her because the importance of physical beauty influences her to have a desire to look like Jean Harlow. But Pauline realizes that with her lost tooth, she can never be...
Cited: Hebdige, Dick. Subculture: the Meaning of Style. New York: Routledge, 2002. 47-48. Print.
Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Plume, 1994. 20-126. Print.
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