Standards of Beauty in American Society

19 November 2020 Standards of Beauty in American Society

Standards of Beauty in American Society

In the novel of Americana, it is during summer when Ifemelu arrives in America. She likes the tranquil greenness of many trees, the city streets and stately homes. Shops were delicately overpriced and quite. There was a biding air of earned grace. No smell could be felt, and it is that that appealed to her. The other cities she knew well had sniffed distinct. For instance, New Haven smelled of neglect, Philadelphia of history, Brooklyn of sun-warmed garbage, and Baltimore of brine (2). However, Princeton did not have a characteristic smell. The campus is described as engraved with knowledge, the Gothic buildings with their vane placed walls lives a picture of a beautiful place one would wish to be.

As she waited for the train to Trenton, she realizes the people on the platform are mostly whites in short, flimsy clothes that look adorable on them. Furthermore, the platform is described crowded/flooded with black people. Many of them were fat and in short, flimsy clothes. The whites that had alighted at Manhattan when she visited her Aunty Uju in Flatlands are depicted to be mostly slim.

During her first visit, she had learned from her friend Ginika that she should not refer to people as fat. In America ‘fat’ would possibly mean stupid or bastard. Therefore, she had learned to call fat people big. Tostitos are believed by the Americans, not to be food for giant people. She had never known that she is fat until a man behind her in line at the supermarket said to her that such food is not good for fat people. She went home and looked herself in a mirror despite the changes she had noticed on her body, but she kept on ignoring them (Adichie, 2013).

Ifemelu engages in a love affair with Blaine and lives together as man and wife for three years without any fight. The author describes their marriage as a smooth ironed sheet. The American women value decency most. She frequently travels to Trenton city to braid her hair. Although she felt offended when she was told to be fat in a supermarket by a man, she admired one woman who was thrice her size on the Trenton platform. The woman had put on a short skirt. She once thought that nothing of slender legs would show off her legs in a miniskirt. To her, it was easier and safer to display legs of which the world approved to be good looking.

Women's Inclusion in Education

There is not a lot about how women participate in education, though; a vibrant reason has not been highlighted. However, there is a campus in the city that is engraved with knowledge. The availability of the high learning institution in the city is enough evidence of educated locals. At the start of the novel, Ifemelu highlights that she is a blogger. She uses all possible means to get the headings of her blogs. For instance, she provokes the man on the train who was eating an ice-cream to see if he can say something she could use in her blogs. Also, she gets the dreadlocked white man give his view on race that enables her writes her blog “not all dreadlocked whites American guys are down.” She is too smart for targeting sources of information on her blogs (Adichie, 2013).

The women at the salon do not speak fluent English though they are conversant with their native languages. They are not enlightened to learn the foreign language. Her Aunty is studying for a medical course. She tells Ifemelu that she is supposed to be with her books when she first picked her from the airport. Nigerian women who had gone back in their homeland to start Investment Company are said to have clothed themselves with degrees. However, there is no mention of the white female engaging in education (Postelnicu, 2015). 

Women's Status in Society Based on Race

There is discrimination in the society though not at high level. African-American women are very distinct from the American women. The train Ifemelu board on her way to Trenton is occupied mostly by whites. Most of the people waiting on the platform are said to be whites and lean. The black people in the locality are said to have light-skinned and lank-hair. She tells people on the train that she writes about lifestyle blogs. However, she explains to the dreadlocked man and the next man to her from Ohio who she recognizes as a manager what she mean by lifestyle blogs. The dreadlocked man says that race remains totally overhyped these days. He goes further to add that black people needs to get over them. On the other hand, the other man asks her if she has ever written on adaptation particularly, adaptation of a black child. He explains that nobody wants black children in the country including the black families. The man sums it up that the only race that matters is the human race.

The people living in Trenton are black. Most of them are from African countries. Furthermore, when she last visited her Aunty Uju in Flatlands the first year in America, she realized that most people who were black and fat remained in the train passed Manhattan to Brooklyn a place where low-class people live. Ifemelu is in a relationship with Blaine but still recalls her boyfriend Obinze in their homeland. Obinze was her first lover that she admitted to having missed a lot (Hall, 2013). 

Outside the station, she patiently waits for a taxi hopeful that the driver of the taxi would not be a Nigerian. She does not like the Nigerian drivers because they are boastful. On boarding the minicab, she gives the driver an address of Mariama African Hair Braiding. It is her first time in the salon. Her regular salon was closed since the owner had gone back to her homeland to get married. The owner of her regular salon is a racist. Women here believe that their African men were the best husbands. Furthermore, all the salons she knew had no white people. In the salon, they introduced to each other by their native country. Halima a sister to Mariama, the owner of the salon gives her a welcoming smile. Aisha, the woman in who fixes her braids reveals that she has two African boyfriends who are Igbo, the natives of Nigeria. She fears that none of them would marry her since she is not an Igbo. She has heard that Igbo only marries their Igbo ladies. In summary, there is racial discrimination in the society.

Women's Status in Society Based on class

There are two distinct cities in the novel Americanah, the Princeton City that is of high-class people and Trenton city that is low-class individuals. In the novel, when Ifemelu wanted to braid her hair she would move all the way from Princeton City to Trenton city to braid it. In Princeton, there is no braiding salon. People in the city have light skin and lank-hair that do not need to be weaved. From the words of the next man on the train next to her, it depicts that black people continue being viewed as of low-class, and that makes the inhabitants not want to inherit black children (Hall, 2013). 

From the storyline, it is clear that the natives of Trenton are of low-class. When she first visited her Aunty Uju, Brooklyn was inhabited by people of low class. All the whites alighted at Manhattan before arriving in Brooklyn. Furthermore, the fat and slim people have their class on deciding what to eat. In the supermarket, she is told that fat people do not eat that ‘shit.’ The shit here was the Tostitos she had bought. It stays revealed that Nigerian tax drivers would say that they have a master’s degree and that driving a tax was their second job. They want to stay recognized among the high-class people in the society. She tells us that the Nigerian cab driver in America believed that they were not taxi drivers.

People who live in Princeton are viewed to be of high-class. Aisha, the woman who fixed her braids, imagines the sort of people who would never have signs that said QUICK TAX REFUND. It is a clear indication that the natives of the Princeton city were of high-class.

Women's Status in Society Based on education

Across societies, cases of gender inequality appear to affect women and their need for fiction. Predominantly, women have been denied access to adequate resources that could have ultimately enabled them to generate better thoughts. For instance, in the novel Americanah, there is no connection of American women with education. Furthermore, the women working in the salon could not speak fluent English language. The only people we are told that school are African women. Aunty Uju is taking her course in medication though she failed her last text she took before the arrival of Ifemelu. Her friend who is an African woman had passed the test, and therefore, she decides to embark seriously on her studies. The women who went back to Nigeria to start business companies had clothed themselves in degrees. They had acquired knowledge in the foreign land. Ifemelu begins a fellowship at Princeton as she writes blogs on lifestyle in America. The narrator does not highlight of any white woman being involved in education (Postelnicu, 2015). 

However, there are educated men in the country. For example, Blaine, a boyfriend to Ifemelu is said to be a teacher who taught ideas of nuance and complexity in his classes. The man who was eating an ice-cream acts recognized as academic in the science firm like chemistry and not humanities.











Adichie, Chimamanda N. Americanah. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. Print.

Davidoff, L., & Hall, C. (2013). Family fortunes: Men and women of the English middle class 1780–1850. Routledge.

Postelnicu, I. (2015). Acculturation Processes in First and Second Generation Female Characters from'Americanah'and'White Teeth' (Doctoral dissertation).

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