This is my first draft. Any type of feedback, input, or revision is much appreciated!
Prompt: What is Alice Walker's definition of beauty and how does it change over time?
Alice Walker addresses the topic of personal growth in her essay "Beauty: When the Other Dance is the Self." Through a series of events in her life, Walker revises her perception of beauty, transforming from a na´ve and simple-minded girl to a loving and accepting mother. The road to development was not easy; it was an arduous journey that led Walker to think of beauty- not as "hot-pink roses" or "green, flocked scalloped hem dresses"- but as an unhampered, un restrained, and limitless love of oneself.
The beginnings of Walker's life were marked by events that led her to believe that beauty came from what the eye meets. Beauty was the "sassiness" in which she read her Easter poem, and beauty was the way she wore her "biscuit-polished patent-leather shoes." Walker, at the tender age of two-and-a-half, saw beauty from a shallow, one-dimensional point-of-view. She may not have been the most favorable character when she was young. She may have gone through all the steps to impress those around her, but she was making the most of the time when she was cute. Reflecting back upon those days, Walker said, "It was great fun being cute," but it was not meaningful. For Walker, the early stages of life floated by like an artificial and short-lived cloud.
Walker's simple and shallow perception of beauty did not endure for the rest of her life, however. In the following years, Walker experienced a series of events that altered her perspective of beauty, making it less innocent and physical, but more complex, dark, and realistic. The turning point in Walker's life was the day she "lost" her "beauty." It was the day her brother shot her in the eye, taking away the "cuteness" that she once possessed. Among the loss of physical attraction in her life, Walker also lost her respect for her brother and her innocent perception of human nature. She entered a "dark" period of her life, living her life full of shame and disappointment. "For six years I don't stare at anyone," she says, "because I do not raise my head." With the loss of physical beauty, Walker could no longer keep the former definition. She had to adapt, to grow in order to see that beauty came in other forms as well.
The biggest irony in the essay is the fact that Walker could not perceive the beauty that had been present for 25 years of her life. Walker was able to see- but not perceive. When she lost her physical beauty, she thought all traces of beauty was lost forever. Little did she know that beauty took form in every part of her life.
Walker uses repetition in "Beauty" to point out the beauty she had attained but not realized. "'You did not change,' they say." Those around her did not perceive a change in Walker despite the dark period in her life that she went through. After all, beauty isn't physical. The loss of her eye did not signify a loss of beauty.
Walker's final and most meaningful definition of beauty is finalized the day that her young daughter looks into her eyes and points out the "world" that exists inside. "For the most part, the pain left then," Walker recollects because at that moment, Walker was able to perceive beauty as the beauty of loving herself. At that moment, the pain- of a cruel brother and his sons, of a cruel world and is heartless children- no longer restrained her from fully accepting herself. Walker's young daughter unexpectedly demonstrated to her mother that beauty meant loving herself.
The final image that Walker leaves with the reader is of two dancers, consisting of herself in the past and present. She leaves with readers an image of two people in love, "whole and free" because to Walker, beauty means fully loving oneself.