Racialized Beauty: The Construction of Racialized-Gendered Identities in the Works of Toni Morrison


  • Beatrice Melodia Festa




The aim of this essay is to discuss and thus analyze the construction of racialized-gendered identities in the novels of Toni Morrison. Following this line of thought, this essay delves into a discussion on the Western aesthetic imposition of white beauty and the consequent “racialization” of black pulchritude.  

The literary representation par excellence of the social construction of beauty and the achievement of a white self, which conforms to traditional Western aesthetic parameters, can be found in the novels of Toni Morrison who illustrates the emotional journey for a self-making process from a feminist perspective. We will focus our analysis mainly on three novels: The Bluest Eye (1970), Song of Solomon (1977) and Tar Baby (1981). In this way, we will analyze Morrison’s usage of the concept of beauty to represent the relationship between a white-dominant society and a black-subaltern community. In this way, I intend to explore the aspiration for an ideal beauty which questions the value and cultural significance of African-American identity through the complex psychological and emotional perspective of vulnerable female characters.  

The ultimate aim of this essay is to look at the root to African-American identity from the feminist fictional response of Toni Morrison. I would furthermore argue that the recurrent refrain of the imposition of aesthetic canons of beauty will eventually explain the splitting of the self as a familiar theme in her narrative.


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Articles (general section) - American language, literature, and culture