The keyword essay on “body” explains that in children’s literature the body is often turned into a material frame for the child. The body becomes a material thing that children focus on. Society sexualizes children’s bodies and represents there innocence and vulnerability as being “sexy”. Body image is a very central aspect of a young girls’ development and comes about when the girl begins to think of her body as a material thing. As culture continually sexualizes the child body and tells young girls particularity what is a beautiful or even sexy, young girls begin to develop ideas around their own body and how they view themselves. In Toni Morrison’s, The Bluest Eye, we can observe the keyword essay on “body” to be acting in multiple ways. First, the girls in The Bluest Eye seem to connect their body and sexuality in an odd idea of being able to ruin your body with the loss of virginity. In addition, Pecola has a very negative view of her body and is always longing to look like Shirley Temple on her cup and have blue eyes. Third, Penola’s body is sexualized throughout the novel by the start of her period and rape of her father who sexually longed for this young girl. Her innocence was appealing and even sexy to him. At the conclusion of the novel, Pecola convinces herself that she has blue eyes as a way to cope with her longing to be different and the severe hardship she has faced in life. Pecola has a distorted body image because she longs for a body that society tells her is beautiful.
Body image is a similar struggle for all developing girls throughout multiple time periods. In model Cameron Russell’s TED talk about body image, she shares that the body and how people view you is a very powerful thing. She highlights how society constructs the idea of what is worthy and girls are prompted or forced to conform to the ideal standard of beauty. Body image would not be as big of an issue for girls if society and media did not construct what the beautiful and ideal body is. Cameron also speaks to the fact that her whiteness is valued and seen as beautiful and sexy in her industry. Cameron remarks that, “For the past two centuries we have defined beauty not just as health, youth and symmetry that we are programmed to admire. But also as tall slender figures and femininity and white skin.” In 2007 models on the runway were counted and less that 4% were not white. Our culture has created a legacy of what beauty is and constructed the idea that our outward body is extremely important to who we are. Lastly, Cameron speaks to the reality that young girls are very often sexualized in the modeling industry and society in general. She was taking racy photos for magazines before her first period or even boyfriend.
Both Pecola’s views of beauty in The Bluest Eye and Cameron Russell’s talk on body image as a model, show that the sexualization and materialization of children’s bodies lead to distinct messages that children and young girls have about their bodies. The image that girls hold about there body is a powerful part of their development.