“It had begun with Christmas and the gift of dolls. The big, the special, the loving gift was always a big, blue-eyed Baby Doll. From the clucking sounds of adults I knew that the doll represented what they thought was my fondest wish. I was bemused with the thing itself , and the way it looked. What was I supposed to do with it? Pretend I was its mother?” (Morrison, pp. 19,20).
This passage in The Bluest Eye is about the expectations and role models that are taught to young women through the toys that are given to them. There is an expectation that little girls all want the same thing, a doll so that they can mimic the adults and learn their roles as “mother”. Dolls are a teaching tool that are thrust upon little girls, with the expectation that they will be delighted. There is also an expectation that they will automatically know how to play with it. In this passage, the girl acknowledges that she is different and stands apart from society’s expectations. This passage supports the ideal in the main character that she is different or at least “not normal” because she does not automatically know what to do with the doll. When she says, “what they thought was my fondest wish”, it indicates that the adults did not truly know her wants and needs, as indicated by the word thought. The phrase “From the clucking sounds of the adults”, tells the reader what the adults were thinking about their gift to her. They were more pleased with their gift than Claudia.
The Youtube video, “A Girl Like Me,” highlights the narratives of girls who talk about societal expectations of beauty. The girls in the video are taught that “white” is beautiful. They desire to have light skin and hair that is naturally straight. The mothers of the girls teach them to go to drastic measures to try to “bleach” their skin in an attempt to make it lighter, a practice that could be considered dangerous. One of the girls talks about becoming angry that her mother will not allow her to be proud of her African American heritage. In the Youtube video children are given a choice between a black doll and a white doll. The children associated the white doll with being nice and positive attributes. The black doll was associated with negative attribute, yet the children identified with the black doll. By an early age, these children have developed a negative self-image tied to the attribute that they are black.
The attitudes of Claudia and the attitudes of the girls in the video are the same. The Bluest Eyes is set at the end of the Great Depression and the Youtube video is recent. The girls in the video express attitudes that are a half century old. Women are still teaching their girls to try to hide their heritage. It is disturbing that this societal norm still exists. These girls did not choose to be black, yet they are made to feel bad about themselves for something over which they had no control. They are assumed to be born with a certain set of limitations, ones that are no longer valid.
This video demonstrates that even though the world has come a long way in accepting people for who they are, there is still a long way to go in eliminating the limiting attitudes that are taught to minority children, not just those that are of African American heritage. Change will not come until mothers and society as a whole are willing to drop the stereotypes and no longer force them to fit into a certain mold, as was done in the Bluest Eye. These attitudes must be unlearned, but they are still being taught to young women by their mothers. They have the effect of devaluing the women because they do not fit into mainstream society and lowering their self-esteem.
- Davis, Kiri. “A Girl Like Me.” Youtube. Youtube, LLC. 8 December 2012. Web. 12 November 2015.
- Morrison, Tony. “The Bluest Eye”. New York, New York: Vintage Books. 2007.