Blue eyes, Brown eyes
In Zadie Smith’s novel, “White Teeth,” Irie Jones must deal with her own phenotypes as she struggles to find herself and “fit in”. Though I may not have kinky hair, I have brown hair and dark brown eyes, I am five foot eight, and I weigh 123 pounds, on average. Of my family, I am the only one that has the combination of these traits, and yet these traits can all be found in my family. Luckily for me, my phenotype matches the cultural constructions of what a “normal” or idealized female should look like (tall, white, and skinny), yet the only reason I do not have these traits is by pure dumb chance.
Of the women in my inner family (my mom and my two sisters), I am the shortest and the smallest. While this never bothered me when I was a child, I realized in middle school and high school that my body type was causing problems. My younger sister and I are only a year and a half a part. We did the same activities and ate the same food, yet my sister grew taller and bigger than me. In high school she had problems with her weight and my existence only seemed to increase her agitation. Why couldn’t she have inherited the same “skinny” genes? As Benedict Lambert explained to us, inheritance really is all about the luck of the draw. I just happened to inherit brown eyes and brown hair and my sister just happened to inherit blonde hair and hazel eyes (both of which I adored). We used to joke around, pretending if we could trade genes what they would be. We never seemed to grasp how randomly those very genes we wanted to trade were actually assigned.
People take their bodies very personally, and they should. We live with them and its through them we interact with the world. However, based on the remarkable workings of chance, should we really cherish our blue eyes or brown hair? Like winning a raffle or lottery, the odds existed for winning them, but we never had a choice to enter the raffle or turn down the prize. I suppose the next question might be, if all these phenotypes are an amalgamation of dominant and recessive genes, why do we as a society choose to prize the ones that we do? Step up sociologists, it’s your turn to speak.
– Laura Y.