In the summer of 1952 while playing “Cowboys and Indians” with her older brothers, Alice Walker at the age of eight years old, was blinded in her right eye by an errant BB gun pellet shot by one of her brothers. Alice became so self-conscious of the large white scar tissue left in her right eye, that she no longer held her head up because she felt ugly and ashamed of herself. When she was fourteen years old, her brother Bill had the “cataract” removed for Alice by a doctor in Boston, but regretfully her vision never returned. For so many years Alice Walker wanted nothing else but to be beautiful. Then one day she remembered what the doctor had said to her, “Eyes are sympathetic. If one is blind, the other will likely become blind too.” For so long, Alice had taken what that doctor had said and made it a reality. She had forgotten to look at all the great opportunities that life offered her and focused only on her outward appearance because Alice was so consumed with the importance that society placed on beauty.
Alice couldn’t accept her own physical disability and this clouded her ability to live life to its fullest. Alice saw things, but she didn’t perceive them. Until the day her husband said to her, “I thought you made peace with that,” and suddenly she started remembering the important things in life, like the gift of sight and the possibility of never seeing and perceiving the beauty of the desert.
Beauty is so easily overrated. An omnipresent characteristic, beauty has stolen the eye of today’s youth. Today’s corporate advertisers are now dictating what beauty is because it sells and makes a lot of money. From a very early age, the concept of beauty is drummed into the minds of today’s youth and the advertisers push all the products that will help them achieve this ultimate goal, from hairstyle, make-up, clothes, and body weight. Gone are the days where a person’s inner beauty accounted for so much more than a person’s physical beauty. It was more important on how you styled the eloquence in your conversations than how you styled your hair. What is it about beauty that drives everyone to possess but a fraction of it? In the end, it all comes down to acceptance. People believe that once they are beautiful, their friends, their peers and their companions will accept them. The problem is it’s true for the most part. Because everyone is so absorbed with outer beauty that once they find someone who possesses it, they are automatically accepted into the social ring. Alice emphasizes that once she got that cataract removed from her eye, she immediately became a different person. She got the man of her dreams, became valedictorian for her high school and was also Prom Queen.
But really now, what is beauty? Here’s what I think; Beauty is a quality or combination of qualities that gives great pleasure to the senses or to the mind and spirit. This is the way I believe humanities sense of beauty has become perverted. There are now too few who find great pleasure in their inner beauty. Remember the quote: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I hate to say it but I disagree. Maybe somewhere along the lines of: “True beauty no longer matters in anyone’s eyes.” Beauty is usually found in the unexpected.
The day Alice Walker was putting her daughter Rebecca to sleep is when reality and realization finally set in for Alice. Alice was constantly worrying about the day her daughter would discover that her mother’s eyes were different from other people. Then the day came when Rebecca focused on her mother’s face. From personal experience, Alice knows how honest children can be in their observations and regretted the day when Rebecca would focus on her disfigured eye. However, when Rebecca said, “Mommy, there’s a world in your eye,” and “Mommy, where did you get the world in your eye?” That’s the day Alice finally learned to look upon herself and know that it was possible to love that world in her eye and remembering all the beautiful and important things in life that had faded away from her main focus.
In the end, Alice learned the true value of life and what was important. Since she was a little girl she was always so used to people telling her how cute and adorable she was, until that horrible day when she was eight years old that literally changed her life for the worst or so she thought. Alice goes on to say that she would sit in front of the mirror before going to bed and abuse her eye. She would rant and rave about how much she hated her eye and how she wished it would clear up by morning. Alice would never pray for sight, only beauty. It goes to show how a tiny disfigurement can almost ruin a person’s life and how a few simple words from another can completely change one’s perspective on everything that a person grew up believing. Alice lost sight of everything that was important to her because she was so obsessed with her physical appearance instead of realizing how beautiful it is just being able to see the world through her one good eye. After Alice left her daughter’s room, she dreamt of a beautiful girl dancing and she realizes that the beautiful girl in her dream was no one other, than herself.
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