Everyone in this world has image issues. There is not a single person who thinks they have a great body. That’s because no one in this world is perfect. No one has the perfect body, personality, image, career, and life. Just like Eleanor in the book Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, I have been through similar problems and I have also seen my friends lose confidence in their image. Eleanor is a unique person who doesn’t have much confidence in her own body. Image problems is not something people should be ashamed about, it’s the nature of life; people are supposed to feel bad about themselves because that’s how you try to make and improve yourself.
The first scene that introduces Eleanor’s image issues is when she compares herself to her own mother. She had thought her mother was the most beautiful thing she had seen. “…looked like a queen, like the star of some fairy tale.” (Rowell 18). She then describes the differences between the two of them and ended up with a conclusion of her mother being the best version. “Eleanor looked like her mother through a fish tank. Rounder and softer. Slurred.” (Rowell 18). After reading this part of the scene I figured out that this is the most important scene. This is the first time she compares the way she looks to other people. It shows us that there is going to be more complications with her image later in the book. The comparison between her and her mother in this scene is bad for her feelings and emotions. This can bring the one thing she needs down, her ego. People who compare themselves to others and think they look bad always has questions in their heads like “Why don’t I look that pretty? Why can’t I have those legs? Why can’t I be born with that perfect body?” These are just some of the questions people think about when they see someone prettier or more talented than them.
In the next scene, Eleanor goes over to Park’s house and gets a makeover from his mother. She never liked the idea but she didn’t want Park’s mom to dislike her so, she went along with it. While she was in the process of getting her makeup done, the makeup felt heavy and she started to feel embarrassed. She didn’t want both Park and his mother to look at her. “She wanted to disappear, to drop through a trapdoor.” (Rowell 214). When it was finally over, it was time to reveal the new and improved (at least that’s what others think) Eleanor. She saw herself in the mirror but didn’t recognize herself for a moment because of her “…fake face…” (Rowell 215). She thought she looked horrible so she ended up crying in front of Park. She concluded her views of herself by being convinced not to put on any makeup anymore. Eleanor thought to herself that she looked like the kind of person who is trying to be popular and pretty. She didn’t want to look like she was trying to be anyone else but herself. Park first never understood why Eleanor tried really hard to look different from other people but he then realizes that it was only because she was different from others. She wasn’t afraid to be herself and show the world that. He then thought that maybe she was just scared to be like other people. Park saw something in Eleanor that no one else ever did, her own beauty. “Eleanor was right: She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” (Rowell 165). I understand were Eleanor is coming from because to some people, putting makeup on for the first time feels scary and weird. Makeup can be very heavy if you’re not use to it and can either change your whole look completely or enhance your features. But for the most part, people who put on makeup for the first time never recognize themselves. I remember the first time I put on makeup, I scared myself because I didn’t know who the person in the mirror was. I then realize it was actually me when my reflection started to mimic me.
The last scene that I thought contributed to Eleanor image problems is after her P.E. class; when a bunch of bullies took her clothes and threw them into one of the school’s bathroom toilet. She was then stuck with her gym outfit “(Polyester. One-piece. Red and white stripes with an extra-long white zipper.)” (Rowell 240). and a bag full of wet clothes. She was so angry at Tina and her friends. She couldn’t believe they would go this far. Eleanor didn’t know what to do so she asked her instructor for help but, she couldn’t do much except send her to the counselor’s office. While she was walking to the office, she was so scared to run into Park because of how she looked in the P.E. uniform. “…shorts just barely cleared her underwear…fabric was stretched so tight over her chest…seams were starting to pop under her arms.” (Rowell 240). When she saw Park, she was so embarrassed. She walked around the school instead of walking through the halls just so she could avoid Park seeing her. Eleanor didn’t care about how she looked every time she was with Park because she was always wear guy’s shirts. Those shirts were big enough to cover her actual body so she didn’t care about how others look or thought about her. But now Park could see how Eleanor actually looked because of how tight the P.E. uniform was on her.
Overall, I thought the Eleanor & Park was very entertaining to read and I love how the Rainbow Rowell incorporated different issues people have into the storyline and the book. After reading the book and writing this essay, I realize that image issues exist everywhere. It is a problem that I feel can be solved but probably can’t get rid of completely. There will always be image issues in this world if people keep comparing themselves to others. There will always be comparing because no one in this world is born perfect. Just like Eleanor and everyone else, I compare myself to others too. I compare myself to my big sister all the time. I always think she is so lucky to have all the looks. She is admired by everyone in my family, especially my grandmother. Everyone would say to her all the time that she could be a model but all she’s missing is confidence. I know that comparing myself to others is a bad thing and that it can bring your emotions down but it’s something you can’t really control. This is the only way people can evolve and improve themselves in every part they need too. Everyone should consider image issues but don’t let it control you to much.
Rowell, Rainbow. Eleanor & Park. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013.