Toni Morrison's, The Bluest Eye, tells the story of three young black girls and specifically their struggle with society's beauty standards. Through the girls different approaches to this oppression, Morrison highlights the importance of self worth and how we shouldn't give in to conformity. Pecola Breedlove, the character focused on in this story, admires blue eyes. She comes from a dysfunctional family where all the member of it are considered ugly, poor blacks and life is no better at school, thats where kids as well as teachers make fun of, ignore or despise her. She’s been let down so much that she’s come to the conclusion that if “those eyes of hers were different, that is to say, beautiful, she herself would be different.” Sisters, Claudia and Frieda are Pecola’s friends who look after her and are always there to stick up for her in any given situation. Like Pecola, they sometimes find themselves fascinated with white beauty and contemplate how a different appearance can mean different treatment but unlike Pecola, they were “still in love with ourselves [themselves] then. We [they] felt comfortable in our [their] skins…The thing to fear was the thing that made her beautiful, not us.” These details displays beauty standards effects on black young girls and how we can let them heavily influence us so much that we believe that the only way to be accepted is to completely give your whole identity a makeover. What we really should be doing though is remembering things about ourselves that makes us more than what they expect such as being kind, strong, and intelligent rather than pretty little things. The idea of perfection being anything but ourselves can really ruin us.
Toni Morrison's short story, Sweetness, illustrates the sacrifices that need to be made to raise and mentor a child who appears to be different from you. When "Sweetness" first had her daughter, Lula Mae, she thought something was wrong with her. She says Lula Mae was "midnight black, Sudanese black. I’m light-skinned, with good hair, what we call high yellow." Sweetness, her husband and family all having light skin, couldn't understand why her daughter was so dark. Embarrassed, she bottle fed Lula Mae right away and rarely took her out with her. The father left Sweetness angry about their daughters skin color, So as Sweetness raised Lula Mae alone there were many struggles but she learned to love her as she raised her on how to act in the world with any means necessary. When Lula Mae grew up she minimized her and Sweetness’ relationship to just sending money and sometimes letters. Sweetness knows Lula hates her but she knows her teaching must've had some affect on her as successful as she is. And when she finds out Lula is pregnant she says "You are about to find out what it takes, how the world is, how it works, and how it changes when you are a parent." So despite being a little taken aback by her daughters differences, Sweetness still understood what needed to be done to raise Lula Mae and teach her how the world works. Although she minimized her association with her own child, had a fit with her from time to time, and told her to call her Sweetness instead of mother, that was merely a sacrifice of having a close relationship with her which was one of many just as her way of protecting her from the cruelties of the world. Sometimes mothers need to sacrifice their own daughters love to insure they succeed in the world. They don't mean us any harm and they're not ashamed of us either but there is more hatred in the world than in their hearts for us and so we need to understand and appreciate their motives.
Maya Angelou's poem, Phenomenal Woman, epitomizes the theme that being just yourself is what makes you the perfect woman. In the beginning of the poem it says, "Pretty women wonder where my secret lies, I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size." She says her beauty lies in "the need for my(her) care. ’Cause I’m a woman Phenomenally." These two lines of this poem validates that putting yourself before how you want others to see you is most important and that however you may appear to be, who you are is the best version of the woman you are.
The poem, "Black Girls Blues," discusses the challenges black woman still face to this day that suppress us. Masterpiece Poet says "nowadays they say she pretty for a dark girl" and that "she got child support super power." There are many negative stereotypes associated with being a black female such as our natural appearance being too aggressive for beauty standards and being only to take care of ourselves and our children with help of child support. Connotations such as these are degrading, ignorant and aren't close to the strong women we truly are. She concludes her piece saying, "In your Blues you beautiful as you wanna be, dark eyes, thick thighs, we don’t need to apologize." After all we've been through and still fighting, there is no need feel less than what we're worth and take pride in who we are.
Miranda Barnes, born in 1994, is an Caribbean-American Photographer. She currently attends John Jay University and is seeking a Bachelors degree in Humanities and Justice. In her earlier life, she grew up in Brooklyn but attended High School in Long Island. Not only having a white mother but being one of the few black kids in her school, Barnes felt out of place. She took an interest in going to John Jay in hope that their mission of seeing things through an "ethnical lens" will help bring her closer to understanding the world and it's art. In the future she hopes to to be an immigration lawyer and undertake a full time career in photography. Her work so far seems to focus on black communities, black jobs being pursued, and family. In her doubles collection that I will be focused on, Barnes discusses the importance of black friendship and sisterhood in which was inspired by her grandmother and her twin sister who were the source to her interest in such relationships. Barnes photo collection, "Doubles" illustrates the importance of black sisterhood. As a technique, in each picture there are two black girls/twin sister with some sort of setting behind them and thats it but she chooses to really focus on the girls and the background is kind of blurred. You can see in the second and third photos, http://mirandabarnes.com/Doubles. She doesn't just have each twin wear the same thing to look super identical, mostly the older twins each have their own touch our preference woven into their own clothes. You can see in the second, fourth and fifth pictures, http://mirandabarnes.com/Doubles. These purposeful techniques Barnes used, emphasized the importance of black sisterhood because by focus on just them she's saying that in lonely or hard times we'll always have each other because we need one another to lift us up and stay by our side. Also by having older twins each have their own touch of style, she's showing that as we grow, we'll grow to be different from one another and have of own preference and character but that shouldn't let us grow apart.
Jamila Woods song, Bubbles, explores the idea that in society, black girls are expected to keep quiet and endure the hardships and challenges of being black and female. A reoccurring lyric she say's throughout the song is, " Black girl be in a bubble, bubble. Floating quietly out of trouble, trouble. They call you shy. Always ask why you listen before you speak." Wood is saying we black women are trapped in a bubble of oppression that subjects us to believe keeping our mouths shut and not standing up for our selves will keep us safe and protected. We're hiding when we should be taking action because our freedom starts with us and whether or not we choose to fight through oppression.