Although the conversation of the media’s harmful messages on body image for young girls and women has become more and more prominent, little has seemed to change. Girls are constantly told that if they are thinner and prettier that they will be happier. We see characters struggle with this in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. Pecola is especially concerned about her looks and believes that if she simply had blue eyes, everything in her life would be better. Many girls also chase this idea that if they are prettier, life will somehow be easier which based on our society’s treatment of
“ugly” people versus “beautiful” people, they might be right.
In her Keywords essay on the word “Body”, Kelly Hager talks about how heavier people are often mistreated in media and literature. She talks about how fat characters are represented as promiscuous and powerless (21). In The Bluest Eye, Frieda and Claudia struggle while talking about how Frieda might become “ruined” if she becomes fat. Claudia suggests that she could simply not eat and exercise (101), which sounds awfully familiar to what many media outlets and the beauty industry seem to push. Girls are constantly bombarded with messages about the importance of being thin which has serious damaging effects.
Hager also talks about how girls’ bodies are often sexualized, even at a very young age (19). The media is consistently sexualizing girls’ bodies but then coming down on girls who embrace their sexuality. This is particularly true with girls of color. Here is an article that goes more in depth about the impacts of hyper sexualizing girls of color: (http://womensenews.org/2011/10/women-color-seen-always-sexually-available/). Morrison addresses this in her novel, particularly during conversations about how people treat the sex workers who live above Pecola.
This video by Dove does a great job of showing all the images young girls take in and how that can impact their ideals of beauty, body image, and self-esteem. It highlights the importance of being thin. It also looks into how women should never be satisfied with themselves and try to be more beautiful with beauty products, diets, and plastic surgery.