You’re Going to be Popular

The popularity of young Maureen Peal rocked the world of the protagonist in The Blues Eye by Toni Morrison. Claudia went through a rollercoaster of emotions when it came to Maureen’s story line. She went from extreme dislike for her, remorse for having felt that way, and then a sudden justification for her original dislike that then ramped up the hatred Claudia had for Maureen. Why did this one minor character have such a big effect on the story that she was later brought up again at the end of the book when Pecola Breedlove is having an imaginary conversation, when no other minor character seemed to have this effect? It’s all because Maureen Peal was considered popular by her peers. Our keyword essay defines popular as “indicating that a subject is a favorite, acceptable, and pleasing to numerous people”. This seems straightforward enough but you must take a minute to think about what characteristics are making Maureen popular amongst her peers. On page 62 of The Bluest Eye, Claudia lists a number of reasons why Maureen had found such favor amongst the school children. The majority of the things on this list had to do with her appearance and particularly her clothing. This reminded me of the song Popular from the musical Wicked. The lyrics of this song tell of the things one needs to be considered popular and unsurprisingly the majority are all about physical appearance. This continuity in the idea of what makes someone popular is no coincidence, it reflects the views of society that pretty = good and ugly = bad. This is a sad reality when things that really matter, like who you are as a person, should be the main deciding factor in if one is popular or not, but alas, that is not the case.

4 thoughts on “You’re Going to be Popular”

  1. This was a very interesting connection. I think there is, perhaps, underlying ideas of racism in “Wicked” that also connect to “The Bluest Eye.” In the musical, Glinda is, I believe always, a pale-skinned, blonde woman, while Elphaba has a green complexion. Glinda dons pink, pretty dresses, while Elphaba wears black that covers almost all of her skin. This is very similar to “The Bluest Eye” because Maureen is lighter-skinned and is described to have lovely clothes that the other darker-skinned girls, particular Claudia, Frieda, and Pecola, are envious of. These three have less lavish garments and feel inferior to the prettier, wealthier girl, much like Elphaba feels of Glinda.

    1. ^I hit send too early on the above post!
      In conclusion, there are a lot of messages in both works that lighter-skinned individuals are superior and more physically pleasing to the eye. The lighter girl is popular almost all the time in everything. Why is this an idea children are still constantly exposed to?

  2. I love the musical “Wicked” and I think you bring up excellent points how it propagates the views of society that being pretty and popular makes you inherently good. I think the lyrics “It’s not about aptitude / It’s the way you’re viewed” especially reflects this. I also think “Wicked” tries to tell the story that a person who has been portrayed as evil (because she’s ugly and green) is that way because of the bad things that have happened her and the way she has been framed. I think “Wicked” is trying to go against the grain of society and say looks don’t define a person, but at the same time the show continues society’s views that pretty and popular makes you good.

  3. I’ve been noticing a few news articles that touched on this topic recently, one was a study that analyzed discrimination that “ugly” people face in their lives, and it found that it was far more prevalent that people thought. Another article that I found analysed the impact female attractiveness in job interviews. Unsurprisingly, men who interviewed attractive women were more likely to hire them, but women who interviewed more attractive women were less likely to hire them. I find it so upsetting that someones worth is determined by their physical appearance, and that this phenomenon that we all thought we left behind in middle school is still relevant today.

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