The Pain of Wanting to be Beautiful " Starlight star bright' make me beautiful tonight. So many young girls gaze into the stars wishing that they could be beautiful so they would be accepted at school, as well as loved and acknowledged more. Pecola Breedlove in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye is no different than any other little girl. She too wants to be beautiful. America has set the standards that to be beautiful one must have ' blue eyes, blonde hair, and white skin' according to Wilfred D. Samuels Toni Morrison (10).
This perception of beauty leads Pecola to insanity because just as society cannot accept a little ugly black girl neither can she. Children will always be children and the playground will always be a place where they tease and taunt one another. Pecola is unlike the other children; she does not participate in the teasing, she is the brunt of all the criticism because she is not only black but ugly too. On the other hand, there is Maureen Peal.
Maureen is not white but is light- skinned therefore, accepted by everyone; the " black boys didn't trip her; the white boys didn't stone her, white girls didn't suck their teeth [at her and] the black girls stepped aside when she wanted to use the sink... ." (Morrison 62). Everyone was nice to Maureen regardless of their race and her own. One day Pecola's dream of acceptance is granted when Maureen rescues her from the taunting of the boys on the playground. During their short-term superficial friendship Maureen does not fail to point out that Pecola looks like a movie character that "hates her mother because she is black and ugly" (Morrison 57).
Karen Carmean in her book Toni Morrison's World of Fiction makes the point that Maureen has succumbed to the "traditional white associations of darkness with ugliness" (Carmean 21). This means that Maureen has accepted the American standards of to be black is to be ugly. Maureen's true reason for being Pecola's friend is revealed when Pecola does not give in to Maureen when she asks personal questions of Pecola's life. It is at this point that Maureen does like all the other children do and taunt Pecola with "I am cute! And you ugly! Black and ugly black e mos" (Morrison 73). Maureen's words further emphasize to Pecola that she is ugly because she is black and the only way for her to be happy is if she were beautiful. The key to being beautiful is for her to have "the thing that made [Maureen] beautiful and not [her]" (Morrison 74).
This 'thing' that Pecola wishes for is the beauty of light skin. It is impossible for even the young children to look past Pecola's ugliness and skin color and accept her therefore unfortunately she will never be happy. Pecola's community does not accept her as well. The storekeeper Mr. Yacobowski cannot even be helpful towards her.
When Pecola enters his store he does not even see her but why should he "there is nothing for him to see, she is just a "little black girl" (Morrison 48). Finally, when he does see her he acknowledges her with a crooked finger and 'phlegm and impatience... in his voice' (Morrison 49). Mr. Yacobowski acknowledging her with a disgruntled voice it cannot bother him by Pecola. Cynthia A Davis in her essay in Toni Morrison for the Contemporary Literary Criticism states that "blacks are visible to white culture only insofar as [they] serve its needs" (218).
Therefore, the very little acknowledgement Pecola did receive from Mr. Yacobowski was primarily for his benefit because her sale was more profit in his pocket. If Pecola were beautiful and white then Mr. Yacobowski would have been more helpful towards her because she would be more visible to him.
When a child is born it is a miracle and that child is loved and nurtured no matter what. This is not the case in the Breedlove home however, from the moment Pecola was placed into her mother's arms she was rejected. When the other mother's were cooing and cuddling their newborns Mrs. Breedlove was in disgust over her "black ball of hair" (Morrison 124).
Mrs. Breedlove did however coo and cuddle "the little pink and yellow girl of the family in which she worked for. When the little white girl cried Mrs. Breedlove went rushing by her side to make her feel happy again whereas she pushed her own daughter aside telling her to "get on out" (Morrison 105). The unhappiness goes further then the neglect from her mother. At home her parents constantly fight and Pecola being a child believes this is her fault; although she does not think it is because she is bad or that it is to expensive to raise her she thinks it is because she is ugly.
She believes that 'if she looked different, beautiful... [then her parents would not] do bad things in front of' her. (Morrison 46). As Jane Kunz says in her article The Bluest Eye: Notes on history, community, and black female subjectivity because society has set "unattainable images" when it comes to the "standards of beauty" (6).
These standards do not allow room for indifference therefore if society does not allow indifference the families as well "cannot otherwise accommodate" (6). In other words it is impossible for a small family to accept Pecola because the larger society has already dismissed her because of her appearance. All her life all Pecola wanted was to be beautiful because if she were beautiful then society would accept her. This need for beauty has led her to insanity.
Her insanity is first seen in the conversation between the Pecola with blue eyes and the Pecola with dark eyes. In this hallucination she reveals as pointed out in the American Literary Criticism that her "fixation [for blue eyes has] turned to insanity" (215) when she insists that they watch to see if someone else may have bluer eyes. The blue-eyed Pecola becomes frantic " look at his. See if they " re bluer" she says to the dark -eyed Pecola (Morrison 203).
Finally the blue-eyed Pecola leaves promising to return when the dark eyed Pecola receives "the bluest eyes" (Morrison 204). Now Pecola is once again left alone neglected because she does not fit the American standards of beauty. Her inner self has picked up and left illustrating that the complete insanity has set in because she cannot obtain beauty. Pecola is now left "searching the garbage" in hopes that she will recover somewhere the key to beauty; the bluest eyes (Morrison 206). In conclusion, a person cannot be happy without knowing happiness. Pecola was never shown happiness therefore could not be happy.
From the beginning she was looked at as ugly from the one person who was supposed to love her regardless of appearance, her mother. She did not ask to be born ugly and black she just was. All she ever wanted was to be happy. Happy like all the pretty blue eyes white girls. Society has shaped beauty to be blue eyes and white and because Pecola cannot achieve this it leads her to a life of insanity. It is only through insanity that she can continue living because without it she will have to face the fact that her dream will never come true..