Eyebrow Beauty Trends

As Lizzie said in her post, I too thought the emphasis on brows in the latest reading from Dante was interesting considering how brows have become such an important part of beauty in recent years. But, like Lizzie, I’m unsure how this will connect with Morrison’s Paradise, if at all.

Because I am really into makeup, I’m very intrigued by how easy it is to change your appearance depending on your eyebrows– if they’re thick and full or very thin, it really does make a difference. It was funny how Dr. McCoy “challenged” us to pay attention to others’ eyebrows because I do that anyway. I’m not sure if this is because I have a passion for makeup or if I just notice little things.

It’s interesting that eyebrows can be seen as a form of expression. I’d never thought of it that way but when you look in the mirror and make faces at yourself, how often do your eyebrows give away what emotion you’re feeling? Many people furrow their brow in concentration or raise them when they’re surprised. So what does it mean that a few years ago the trend was to shave your brows? Without eyebrows, would it be harder to tell how someone’s feeling? This seems like a silly question but I really am curious, and this might be even sillier, but for some reason I thought of Britney Spears shaving her head during her famous breakdown.

Idea of “Choice” in Jazz

Something I’ve noticed come up in the assigned readings thus far is the emphasis Violet and Joe both place on choice. What’s ironic is that Violet talks about choosing Joe, while Joe talks about choosing Dorcas. It gave me an image in my head of a sort of circle– as Violet pursues Joe, Joe pursues Dorcas. It also brought me back to the whole concept of churning that happens in Toni Morrison’s novels.

The first mention of choosing that caught my attention was when Violet was describing the funeral and attempting to explain why she did what she did. On page 95 she says, “That’s why it took so much wrestling to get me down, keep me down and out of that coffin where she was the heifer who took what was mine, what I chose, picked out and determined to have and hold on to. . . ” (Morrison). I’ve bolded all the words here that I believe have relevance to this concept of choice. Initially I thought this language was bizarre. Nowhere does Violet use the word “love.” Instead, all of her language points to possessiveness.

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The Danger of the Single Story in Today’s Society

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk about the danger of the single story never fails to leave me moved. So much of what she says is relevant in today’s society.

Adichie explained how her experiences as a child showed how vulnerable and impressionable children are in the face of the “single story.” It made me wonder how many parents, specifically in the U.S., are unaware of the impact they have on their children– not only impacting them with their own words, but the kinds of media they expose them to. Continue reading “The Danger of the Single Story in Today’s Society”

Retelling the Slave Narrative

I just finished reading “Venus in Two Acts” and I have to say this essay really struck a chord with me. Since elementary school, the African American literature I’ve been exposed to was almost exclusively about slavery. I can’t think of any specific titles right now, and my memory could be skewed, but it seems as though once a year growing up we read our one token African American novel in reading group (the lack of diversity in the kinds of books we read is a problem in and of itself that I’ll save for another post) and it was always about slavery in a historical sense.

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The credibility of Lina’s character traits

During the in-class exercise that we completed today, my group focused on Lina and which aspects of her character were affirmed and which were not. We agreed as a whole that Lina is a strong person; she has been through and survived so much. Not only is she strong in the physical sense (she takes care of Rebekka almost single-handedly when she’s ill), but mentally strong. On page 57 she describes, “the shame of having survived the destruction of her families. . . .” Carrying that kind of survivor’s guilt at such a young age is nearly impossible to imagine, so clearly someone would have to be of strong mental standing to move forward from that.

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Jacob’s values and religion

On the second day of class (my first day since I joined late) I remember discussing Jacob and his apparent distaste for slavery. We spoke specifically about the line, “Jacob winced. Flesh was not his commodity.” Without context because I hadn’t starting reading the book yet, my initial reaction was a torn one. While on the surface one might think, “Oh wow, Jacob is so virtuous he rejects slavery!” the fact he still refers to the slaves as “flesh,” dehumanizing them, shows he is not so far removed from the idea of slavery.

However, I do think there’s something to be said for society and culture at this time; I believe it accurate to say it would be difficult to find any white person who flat out rejects slavery in all forms (in fact I’m taking a history course about working in America during this time period, and my professor repeatedly says we must remember what the time period was like.)

So, for the time period, I would agree Jacob is against slavery in comparison to someone like D’Ortega. The next argument we brought up in class is whether Jacob’s ideas toward slavery stem from religion or his belief in a self-efficient work ethic, and whether this matters when putting it into terms of morality.

To this I bring up an entirely different point: perhaps it is not the question of religion vs. work ethic, but a combination of both. When Lina is first rescued she goes to live with Presbyterian’s who say, “God hated idleness most of all.” To me, this sounds like a combination of religious belief with Jacob’s work ethic. I wonder if that is where Jacob’s obsession with working hard, doing things for yourself, not being lazy, etc. comes from. Perhaps at some point Jacob was exposed to this Presbyterian thinking. If so, one could argue his rejection of slavery is not only because he thinks it “cheating,” in a way, to accept slave labor instead of working yourself, but also somehow rooted in religion and God. However, this is all just speculation.

I do not think it matters the reason, when it comes down to it, I see Jacob as a man of morals and virtue.