A “Perfect” Image

Image is a significant part of any girl’s childhood. Girls grow up trying to find who they are through their own discoveries about themselves and, sadly, the opinions of others. In today’s society, along with society of the past century, girls’ depictions of themselves actually have a lot more to do with the opinions of others. It seems that no matter how highly a girl thinks of herself, no matter how much confidence she has, if those around her do not, or seem to not, share those same opinions, her own views do not matter in the slightest. Said well by Karen Coats in the essay Identity in Keywords for Children’s Literature, “our sense of identity emerges through how we imagine others see and react to us”. This idea is clearly seen in the novel The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. One of the main characters, Pecola, is apart of a family that is believed to be ugly by all those around them, including themselves. To the town Pecola and her family live in, “their ugliness was unique. No one could have convinced them that they were not relentlessly and aggressively ugly” (38). Despite what Pecola may have thought about herself at one time, she now believes herself to be ugly due to what she has grown up hearing and experiencing. With all of those around her constantly convincing her of her ugliness, there is no way for her to believe anything else or even believe in herself.

This idea is a huge problem in society of the past and present. Rather than tearing girls down, despite their looks, society should be building them up. Girls should be encouraged to see themselves as beautiful and “perfect”, but they are incapable of doing so if society is consistently telling them the opposite. P!nk, an American singer-songwriter, released a song in 2011 that challenges the critical society we live in by encouraging young girls to believe that they are beautiful. In her song, “Perfect” she makes an effort to let girls know that they cannot let society hinder their self views and confidence, that they should “never ever feel like [they’re] less than perfect”.

The images girls have of themselves are crucial to their self esteem as they mature throughout life, high self esteem is proven to make for an all around happy life. In order to provide the well-deserved positive self image that girls need to have, society has to change. Girls should never be under the impression that they are “ugly”, they should always be under the impression that they are “perfect”.


10 thoughts on “A “Perfect” Image”

  1. That music video is extremely powerful and at some points hard to watch. Image has such an influence on young girls growing up. Oftentimes so much effort and emotion is put into building up one’s self esteem and with one negative opinion of a peer it all comes crashing down. If is unfortunate that so much of a person’s self-worth can come from opinions that other people have about them. I agree with your point that society needs to change. People need to be not so worried about knocking each other down to improve their own image, but instead build up others around them to create a strong community.

  2. I loved this song when it first came out! (and still do of course!) It has such powerful message and I love how you related it to our class. While growing up, girls (myself included) continuously deal with the pressure to fit in and keep their image with their friends. As girls, we are far too often worrying about what others think about us and are afraid of being judged by others. I totally agree that our society needs to change so that girls are better raised to have a positive self image and are more confident in who they are as a person.

  3. It’s also interesting to think about when girls start to have self-esteem issues. Is it when girls start to look at magazines, or watch certain television shows? I feel like society is so contradicting, because some celebrities and icons are always giving speeches, and singing songs about self love and confidence, but yet their photos in magazines are still photoshopped. Girls identity is shaped so much now by the media, and certain role models for young girls, that all of media and society has to make a change to promote self-love and confidence, otherwise girls will always just see contradicting ideas.

  4. I agree with you in that society would be so much better if every girl felt the way P!nk encourages them to in this song. It seems that society’s “standards” for girls keep getting more and more intense, and girls also continue to get more and more critical of themselves and other girls.

  5. Leslie, first and foremost, I found the quote “our sense of identity emerges through how we imagine others see and react to us” to be extremely interesting. I often notice the intense pressure and normalization that is being placed on female beauty myself; I believe other males do as well. That being said, I’m curious as to who created these norms, men, women, or both?

  6. Your article is similar to some of the topics I explored in my own. The notion that girls rely on others to tell them their own self-worth is incredibly relevant to modern society and the heavy presence of social media and other social platforms. Facebook, Instagram, and Tinder are almost entirely built on the photos you post and your “success” on these pages is measured by likes or swipes. The more likes you receive, the more confidence you feel because the image you have posted has been received well. Tinder is set up so that someoen sees your photo and swipes left or right, depending on whether they think you look good and would be interested in you. This tactic reinforces society’s message that your image is everything and your worth is based upon it.

  7. I think the intersectionality of race and identity hugely plays a role in the discussion of what is “perfect”. In “The Bluest Eye”, Pecola sees having blue eyes as being perfect and idolizes Shirley Temple. I think our society projects the image of perfection with having light skin. This idea can also be seen in the contrast of characters Eva and Topsy. The white girl, Eva, is the angelic and perfect one.

  8. You chose an excellent song to illustrate the point you are making. Society places a lot of pressure on young people to look and act a certain way. Many of the problems we face in todays world could be addressed if we were more accepting of other. How boring the world would be if we all look the same, act the same and thought the same. It is unfortunate that society feels obligated to judge people based on their looks rather than their contribution. The video from the song you chose sends a powerful message. People’s negative reactions towards other can have a deadly affect on young people especially those who are lacking confidence in themselves and those seeking constant approval of others.

  9. This is a really interesting connection of “identity” and P!nk’s song “Perfect”. I totally agree that society’s standards have been pushed upon young girls in a negative fashion. Females are pushed down way too much in general, and this song really exemplifies that. Your example from “The Bluest Eye” connects with this because Pecola thinks that she cannot be beautiful. A lot of this is due to society’s standards/norms that surround her.

  10. While reading this post, I remembered P!nk’s song and music video “Stupid Girls.” The song had lyrics like “They travel in packs of two or three With their itsy-bitsy doggies and their teeny-weeny tees” and “Maybe if I act like that, that guy will call me back.” Though I think the intention of the song was to critique narcissism, vanity, and material culture, it insulted and shamed women along the way. It’s interesting to see how her lyrics have evolved and the message she has been trying to spread lately. Luckily, it’s much more positive and empowering.

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