Oh, the fun (power) of Google!
When I search ugly and beautiful women on Google, I find two extremes.
If I search the term “ugly woman” on Google images, I find this picture.
The related searches are: plain woman, gross woman, scary woman, average woman, ugly man, and unattractive women.
Now if I search the term “beautiful woman,” I see an image of a blonde hair blue-eyed woman. Does this image look familiar? It is similar to the doll described in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. “…all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every child treasured” (Morrison 20).
The related searches are: beautiful woman face, beautiful woman painting, beautiful woman in dress, and beautiful woman’s body. It is interesting how all of the related searches have beautiful in the title; yet, the related searches for “ugly woman” use many other words besides ugly.
Why must beauty be black and white or positive and negative? Everywhere I look I have media telling me that “this” is beautiful or “this” ugly. Clearly dividing the line between the two. Responses to a New York Times titled “Up the Career Ladder, Lipstick In Hand” illustrated society’s negotiation of beauty and power. In a response Natasha Scripture says, “Yet makeup can only fix so much if you don’t take care of your skin.” The use of the word “fix” implies that ugliness exists. In another response Scott Barnes views “beauty as a tool” and says, “People listen to beautiful people.” These comments show that people truly believe that beauty leads to prosperity and ugliness leads to failure. Is this true? Does only beauty and ugliness exist?
A few people in class have stated that the absence of beauty is ugliness, but I don’t believe it. Just because you are not beautiful does not mean you are ugly. Where’s the positive space in between ugly and beautiful? Where do those people belong? I believe that this middle space exists, but it is not recognized.
As I read Morrison’s book, I blatantly saw the white and black distinction and/or the beautiful and ugly division. In class we discussed how blackness has a place within the text as being subjected to the reader’s gaze, and whiteness has a place within the structure of the book with Dick and Jane passages beginning the chapters. Does the novel leave room for a middle space?
Even though white is referenced as beautiful and black is portrayed as ugly, I would argue a middle space exists with Claudia and Frieda. They are not as ugly as Pecola’s family, but they are definitely not as a beautiful as the blue-eyed doll. Yet, they say “We were so beautiful when we stood astride her [Pecola] ugliness” (Morrison 205). Claudia and Frieda represent the grey area in between this beautiful and ugly dichotomy, and this is important because they are telling the story. Their voices deserve to be recognized.
I want to look at beauty without restrictions, so the absence of beauty can exist without necessarily being ugly. Those people in the middle are significant and should not be forgotten. I do not know how to define this space, but its presence needs to be acknowledged.