Body Image vs. Reality
Paper # 2
Beauty is defined by the media and their definition of beauty is simple: tall, thin, and white. Anything that deviates from that definition isn’t accepted. Sometimes, white can get tan, but mostly porcelain skin is most desired. Beauty should not be defined by the media, TV, radio and print. It should be defined for the individual based on their own perceptions. The film Precious and the book The bluest eyes tackle some of the unsaid realities concerning beauty. The unsaid realities are the lies and myths told to Black girls concerning their bodies and self image.
The film Precious is about a young Black girl who lives in a mentally and physically abusive home with her mother and mother’s boyfriend. During the film Precious yearns for white skin, and blonde hair.
“My name is Clareece "Precious" Jones. I wish I had a light-skinned boyfriend with real nice hair. And I wanna be on the cover of a magazine. But first I wanna be in one of them BET videos. Momma said I can't dance. Plus, she said who wants to see my big ass dancing, anyhow?” (Precious)
The longing for those things that are so opposite of her takes the subject of self-hatred and puts it in your face. Her feelings towards herself are deeply rooted in self-hatred. She dislikes her hair, her skin, and her size. Not only does she despise herself because of who she is, she also feels like she can’t learn. Precious feel s that if she has lighter skin, straighter hair, then she’ll be famous. White skin leads to good things, and bad things don’t usually happen to white people in Precious’s opinion.
Historically Precious is right on cue for questioning herself. Since the beginning of media, TV, Radio, Print Black men and women were presented negatively. Black people weren’t shown regularly on TV until the 1960s; the first time a Black person was on TV was 1939, when a dance was performed on a show. When they were on TV they only had roles that were seen as less desirable. The first Black person to host a radio show was in 1939 and soon after they had their own radio stations, presenting information that they felt was important. Print media started featuring Black men and women for certain types of products in the1800. Usually these products were for the service industry.
“The imagery of Black women that is used in advertisements has had the same themes throughout history. It is as if the first advertising agency created its image of Black women and 'taught' the other advertising agency's of today to continue the traditions.” (Brown)
In all of these media forms, the common theme is not only negative portrayal of Black people, but portrayal of Black women as sexual objects and nothing more. When a culture is constantly barraged with negative images concerning themselves, certain things start to be taken for truth. Having lighter skin was something that Precious saw as step ladder for having more success in her life.
Precious goes through some big transformations throughout the film. Towards the end of the film, she starts receiving encouragement for her actions, which leads her to make better decisions. Once she realizes that she has control over her life, her whole life turns around. Precious starts to accept herself and love herself. Precious shows that love by making good decisions and caring for herself and children.
The Bluest Eyes is one of the saddest novels. I found myself, cringing at some of the things the girls had to endure and I felt party responsible for the young girl’s life. The responsibility that I felt was more embarrassment for her, and wanting someone to reach out to her. Pecola is a young girl living in the mid-west during the 1940’s. She is the child of two African Americans who had rough childhoods themselves. The rough childhoods transfer to Pecola because she is raped by her father and becomes pregnant from him.
During her life, all she wants is blue eyes. “Each night, without fail, she prayed for blue eyes.” (Morrison, 40) Instead of yearning for lighter skin like Precious does, Pecola wants blue eyes which in a sense are the same thing as lighter skin. The only thing she wants is to be acknowledged. For Pecola blue eyes represent living a better life, and being accepted by people. In one chapter of the book, Pecola goes to the store to buy candy and the shop keeper does not really see her. “He does not see her, because for him there is nothing to see. How can a fifty-two-year old white immigrant storekeeper...see a little black girl?” (Morrison, 42)
Pocola’s atmosphere doesn’t really change at the end of the book except her father is no longer around. Pecola ends up living at home with her mother for the rest of her years, and she convinces herself that she has blue eyes. In the end Pecola is in a sad place, where no one comes in to help her.
Question 2: Significance of the titles
I think novels titles are very significant. The Bluest Eyes represents the eyes that Pecola could never have. It was something unattainable for her, but something she never lost hope for. The ignorance in that is really sad and endearing. Pecola constantly prayed for blue eyes, hopping that they would change one day, and everything else would just get better.
Precious is an important title and goes well with the novel because of two reasons. The first reason is that the main character’s name is Precious, which helps to connect the film to the characters in the movie. The second reason why the title matches is because no matter what happened to the Precious, she was still precious in every way. Someone still cared for her and wanted her to happy and be taken care of. No one deserves to be an outcast in one’s own home.
Question 3: Story Endings
I think the author of The Bluest Eyes wanted to leave the story in the most honest and blunt fashion. The ending is very real and tragic and breaks your heart. Pecola ends up completely lost at the end of the novel. I envision Pecola’s future to be a simple one, where she mainly takes care of her mother and household chores. I don’t imagine that she’ll amount to much more than that, she lacks the support of her family and doesn’t have the necessary education. If she received some sort of education she could soon educate herself about beauty and try to form her own sense of identity.
Precious didn’t want to end on a sad note, the film held so much sadness by itself. Adding a sad ending would have been too much for the film and I think a lot of people wouldn’t have liked it as much. Precious ends up taking care of her 2 children, plus she seems to really feel better about herself. Precious seems happy in the end, and it leaves the viewer feeling a little bit happy as well. I envision great things for Precious. I hope that she’s able to instill self-esteem into her children and continue to love herself as well.
Question 4: Images
For some reason society has a facilitation with Black women’s butts. I think the curiosity stems from the fact that white women normally lack in the general area. This image is negative because it is showcasing her butt, which signals that she is just a sexual object. Also, the model has fake hair and it clearly airbrushed.
Both of the above images feature fully clothed white females, while the black females have exposed breasts. This separates white women from black women and sets white women on a higher level.
The last image is from the 1940’s and features a house maid who is in typical Black lady form. This image further perpetuates the stereotypes of Black women. All of the images are negative images that reinforce negative stereotypes for Black women.
Brown, S. "Black Women in Advertisements." Associated Content. N.p., 18 June 2007. Web. 9 Apr 2010.
Daniels, Lee. Precious. Lee Daniels Entertainment, 2009.
Morrison, Toni. The bluest eye. 1979, 1979. Print.