Today is Eliza Doolittle Day, a beloved character from the Play Pygmalion by author George Bernard Shaw.
The play has a comedic plot of a woman in London who has a thick Cockney accent. She soon meets Professor Henry Higgins, whose arrogance and bluntness have him teaching the Cockney flower girl to speak in an upper-class tone. Eliza Doolittle soon learns to be a polished, refined lady who is poise, polite, and elegant.
In 1956 the play Pygmalion became a musical called My Fair Lady, which brought laughter and joy to the viewers.
However, there is a deeper message at work here. It shows how your appearance and the way you act or speak impact how people see you. You may be a genuinely kind person, but if you do not have a certain definition of beauty or elegance, you will be overlooked by society. Eliza Doolittle no longer wanted to be seen as an unintelligent poor girl anymore.
Novels that Showcase Struggles of Appearance
Appearance seems to be what matters in society. If you are visually appealing and have a persona, on social media or in person, you will receive positive feedback. However, what about those who are kind individuals but don’t get the attention they deserve. Or for those who apparently aren’t as beautiful yet are seen as vile people. Lastly, what about those who are putting on an act of kindness and trick people because of their ideal beautiful appearance?
To tackle the concepts of beautiful appearance and share similar struggles Eliza Doolittle did, here are four books you can read.
1. Perfect by Natasha Friend
The pressures of upholding a perfect appearance and image are a common action in high school and middle school. This book focuses on a thirteen-year-old girl whose dad passed away.
Isabelle is trying her best to act as if everything is normal. With her father’s recent passing, nothing is truly normal. As far as school she thinks her English is pretty decent, there is this boy who is insanely fixated on the prettiest girl in their class, Ashley Barnum, and lastly, the lunch-tables are a hierarchy all on their own.
The truth is her mother keeps all of the dad’s photos under her bed and cries herself to sleep at night. Isabelle has been binge eating. Now because her sister April told her mother she goes to group therapy. The surprising twist is that she sees Ashley.
This novel explores the illusion of appearance and learning to be your true self, flaws and all.
2. Where the Grass is Green and the Girls Are Pretty by Lauren Weisberger
Three women facades face a truth that can break them. They put on a brave face and beautiful appearance, but deep down true desires want to be pursued.
Peyton is the co-anchor of a popular morning show watched by thousands of people around the world. She is considered flawless, with a perfect husband and an intelligent daughter who is in Princeton.
Meanwhile, Peyton’s sister Skye is a stay-at-home mother in the New York suburbs. She has many Degrees and is living the at-home lifestyle which includes PTA meetings, and helicopter parenting. But she aches to pursue new endeavors and not just stay at home.
Peyton’s daughter Max is a quirky seventeen-year-old who wants to pursue dreams in film.
One little lie is all it takes for these three women to have cracks. Cracks in their perfect appearances and roles. What happens when they must face their truths?
3. The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe
Do you enjoy a twisty, page-turner from start to finish? When it comes to appearance, it’s not just beauty. Becoming a completely different person than you are, putting on a mask.
Nora O’Malley is her mother’s protege when it comes to being a con artist. Her mother specializes in creating cons for male criminals. However, one day her mother fell for a target and it was her opportunity to escape.
Now living a normal life, she has her close friends Wes and Iris. However, Wes is her ex-boyfriend and now.. she is dating Iris. When Wes finds out it’s awkward. They are all still good friends but the dynamic is too tainted to talk about. The following day they have to meet up at the bank to deposit a fundraiser check. What makes it worse is that a bank robbery happens and they soon become the hostages in a heist.
Little do they know the little con artist they just took against her will. Watch what happens to Nora as she tries to mend her friendships while putting on her ‘masks’.
4. Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty by Nancy Etcoff
A provocative and witty research book on the science around beautiful appearance. For those who enjoy analytical research, this book is perfect for you. When it comes to Eliza Doolittle’s desire and society’s desire for beauty, where does it stem from?
Author Nancy Etcoff is a member of the Harvard Medical School and a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. This novel shows her case that it is all in human nature, our biology.
Our desire to survive (Darwinism) to be at the top is because beauty supersedes everything. When you are beautiful it is in human nature to listen and to go after anything beautiful to society’s standards. This research will help gather information to narrow down why the desire is natural within our biological framework, and how we can hopefully break the standards of what is beautiful.
Which novel caught your eye? If you loved the play Pygmalion, especially the unforgettable character Eliza Doolittle, then these books will reign true to the themes of appearance. Go to Bookstr for more recommendations.
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