Skin Deep


d1d524c6bff9dd9e1329a7b7788ef0f9What is beauty?  What does it mean to be ugly?  Is beauty merely skin deep or is it much more? Moreover, how do family relationships and dynamics affect one’s perception of beauty and self worth?  

For men and women, beauty and self worth are portrayed and perceived differently of course.  For women, I only see second-hand how the media e.g. videos, movies, magazines, television, advertisements, etc. depicts beauty in women.

I would not understand or know how little girls are taught what beauty is from their parent or parents.

I think of my own childhood where as a boy, I was never taught really what it means to have self-worth or to be ‘handsome’ for a man.  The greatest words that my father told me growing up that I will always remember was, “I’m proud of you” when I played sports or got good grades in school.  Even when I messed up or made a mistake my father still instilled confidence in me to continue to keep going and not give up.  Still, there were times that I felt insecure or believed I wasn’t good looking as a kid.  I mean, who doesn’t go through life having doubts, worries, or insecurities about how one looks.

You are not beautiful

Even having a parent who is a role model is a huge thing when it comes to how family relationships and dynamics affect one’s perception of beauty and self-worth.  For instance, seeing how your father treats your mother plays a crucial role in developing that sense of beauty.  However, what about kids that do not have both parents or even 1 parent to tell them that they are beautiful or handsome?  I think of Pecola’s situation in The Bluest Eye (1971) where she constantly sees her parents fighting and hating each other.  She never sees any love between her parents or even experiences love from them.  Her mother or father never tells her she is beautiful.  Instead, she is ignored, neglected, and berated by her parents and others throughout the novel.  This has a devastatingly traumatic effect on her self-worth and perception of beauty.  Similarly, the racist attitudes of society at the time also warp her perception of beauty… she wants to look white and have blue eyes like the “Shirley Temple” cup.

Morrison leaves the reader with a character that has no ounce of self-esteem and a completely delusional idea of what it means to be beautiful.  She can never be beautiful.  Pecola’s beauty is only skin deep.  Today, unfortunately, so many women espouse this same idea – wanting something that they can never truly attain.

Yet, how do little girls or little boys  learn how to feel validated in the sense of beauty or worthy, when parents or family relationships/dynamics tell them otherwise?  Thoughts?  What did your parent(s) teach you about being beautiful or handsome?

“let Olive be Olive!” – Sheryl from “Little Miss Sunshine”


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