Journal: Response to Alice Walker’s “Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self”


Journal assignment completed for “The Self Before Selfies”

Alice Walker’s “Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self” tells of Walker’s journey of self-love and acceptance where she learns how to feel like herself again. At first, this is centered on her feeling cute, but after she becomes blind in one eye, she forgets what that feels like. Her memoir reveals the obstacles she had to overcome in addition to her eye, including bullies, her mother’s illness, and isolation from her immediate family. Growing up looking differently and feeling differently from other kids is not easy; insecurities are evil, and some children are no better. This certainly claimed power over her, as she was not able to see past it until she is twenty-seven. Walker associates her injury with the last day her father chose her first, and I think she feels shame for this since her father was denied a ride to the hospital. Essentially, her insecurity and feeling like second best impacted the way she carried herself.

When she visits the doctor, he tells the family, “Eyes are sympathetic. If one is blind, then the other will likely become blind too.” This resonates with the theme of the essay since she is the only one holding herself back with negative self-talk about her appearance. If she learned to accept her eye at a younger age, what others had to say would not have mattered to her. She alienated herself, but once she accepted that part of her identity – even with an operation that reduced the sight – she had a cathartic release in the bathroom and in a dream. I have heard from several parents that there is no love like a love between a parent and child, and this maintains that idea since Walker saw things in a new light after her daughter’s questioning.

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