American Cosmetics: Only for White Blonde Girls

Barbie, Hillary Clinton, and Marilyn Monroe: all evoke the singular image of Americana, albeit for different reasons. But these iconic women, while taking on the task of representing true American culture, are all blonde and all white. Indeed, the blonde-whiteness of women in America is vastly overrepresented in media and highly idealized among individuals (especially among those not experiencing it). We see this romanticized American image of blonde, white women replicated in both Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Almay Cosmetic’s commercial featuring Carrie Underwood, especially when you consider the “Image” keyword essay.

We experience America’s extreme lust for the blond-white image in The Bluest Eye when we first meet Pecola Breedlove. The scene depicts Pecola with such envy for Shirley Temple’s blonde, bouncy curls and milk-white skin that she can’t help but stare at the image whenever she can. Even for African Americans like Pecola and other races, this scene depicts the obsession that mid-twentieth century America had for depicting its image in the form of white, blonde girls. But this obsession persists today.

In the Almay Cosmetics commercial, linked above, the idea of blonde-whiteness is consistently used to represent the image of American beauty. First, the casting of singer-songwriter Carrie Underwood is short-minded but understandable; she is beautiful, famous, and talented. But what’s most disturbing about this commercial is the alternation of real American symbols and exclusively white, blonde girls. It implies that Almay, beauty, and America are exclusively white-blonde concepts, as it concludes with its campaign slogan: simply American. Clearly the envious obsession over blond-whiteness experienced by Pecola still persists in the American image today.

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