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What nationality has the bluest eyes?

Blue eyes are increasingly rare in America — Americas — International Herald Tribune

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By Douglas Belkin

  • Oct. 18, 2006

If the U.S. Census Bureau has it right, the 300 millionth American entered the United States kicking and screaming on Tuesday morning. The odds are that this milestone American is a boy, born to a white family in a California suburb. He will have a 1-in-4 shot of graduating from college, will probably marry, father two children, struggle with his weight, and live to see his 85th birthday.

What he will probably not have — that his grandfather likely did — is a pair of blue eyes.

Once a hallmark of the boy and girl next door, blue eyes have become increasingly rare among American children. Immigration patterns, intermarriage, and genetics all play a part in their steady decline. While the drop-off has been a century in the making, the plunge in the past few decades has taken place at a remarkable rate.

About half of Americans born at the turn of the 20th century had blue eyes, according to a 2002 Loyola University study in Chicago. By mid-century that number had dropped to a third. Today only about one 1 of every 6 Americans has blue eyes, said Mark Grant, the epidemiologist who conducted the study.

Grant was moved to research the subject when he noticed that blue eyes were much more prevalent among his elderly patients in the nursing home where he worked than in the general population. At first he thought blue eyes might be connected to life expectancy, so he began comparing data from early 20th- century health surveys. Turns out it has more to do with marriage patterns.

A century ago, 80 percent of people married within their ethnic group, Grant said. Blue eyes — a genetically recessive trait — were routinely passed down, especially among people of English, Irish, and Northern European ancestry.

By mid-century, a person’s level of education — and not ethnicity — became the primary factor in selecting a spouse. As intermarriage between ethnic groups became the norm, blue eyes began to disappear, replaced by brown.

The influx of nonwhites into the United States, especially from Latin America and Asia, hastened the disappearance. Between 1900 and 1950, only about 1 in 10 Americans was nonwhite. Today that ratio is 1 in 3.

With the exception of an increased risk of macular degeneration (blue eyes are at greater risk) , eye color is biologically indicative of almost nothing. Boys are 3 percent to 5 percent likelier to have blue eyes than girls, but beyond that it’s a non-issue — physiologically speaking. The cultural implications are another story.

Preferences for fair skin and blue eyes stretch back in Europe to at least the Middle Ages, according to Hema Sundaram , author of «Face Value,» a book about the history of beauty. For women in particular, especially those of European descent, fair skin and light eyes have long been seen as indicators of fertility and beauty.

America adopted those biases early on, and Hollywood reinforced them by anointing a long line of blue-eyed blondes such as Marilyn Monroe as the nation’s sex symbols.

In the 1930s, eugenicists used the disappearance of blue eyes as a rallying cry to support immigration restrictions. They went so far as to map the parts of the country with the highest and lowest percentage of blue-eyed people.

So consumed were Americans with this ideal that in the ’70s and ’80s the fashion models who exemplified the All-American look were typically Scandinavian, said Katie Ford, CEO of Ford Models in New York, which has been in business for 60 years. But in the past decade those standards have begun to change, and Madison Avenue has taken note. The look advertisers want today favors honey-colored skin, brown hair, and green or brown eyes. The most successful models are coming from Brazil.

«Advertisers want the idealized form of the general population,» Ford said. «Someone with perfect features but who the everyday person can relate to.»

But even as blue eyes give way to brown, lighter eyes will maintain a certain allure, said Carolyn Kaufman, who teaches evolutionary psychology at Otterbein College in Ohio. When people see something pleasurable, their eyes dilate, Kaufman said. Dilated pupils signal happiness and are, in turn, considered attractive. Since they are easier to see on lighter eyes, they have a natural appeal.

The Bluest Eye – Close Reading

Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye is about social acceptance and not fitting in. One must find and learn to accept your own true beauty. The novel is about a girl named Pecola who is black, lonely, and comes from a poor family. Pecola only dreams about having blue eyes because she believes blue eyes would make anybody beautiful and instantly prettier. In short, blue eyes are seen as the sign for being beautiful simply because they are unique and most people consider them beautiful. After being picked throughout her life Pecola has begun to believe she will always be ugly. Her low self-esteem makes her feel worthless, lonely, and unhappy because she in unable to change her appearance. Pecola’s desire is to be accepted by society as beautiful. She fails to understand that the only person who needs to accept her is herself. The Breedlove’s are constantly struggling with daily obstacles and are society’s scapegoat for everything that goes wrong. They don’t know how to deal with life’s everyday struggles. They are the shame of the town and are despised. Some would say Cholly is the reason for the Breedlove’s un-acceptance to society and the violence directed towards them. The Bluest Eye uses tactics such as flashbacks to allow the reader with the opportunity to decide for themselves the cause of the Breedlove’s non acceptance to society and the daily struggles in their lives. By looking closely at Cholly’s character and his past we are able to see the novel from a different perspective. Cholly is the cause for all the suffering inflicted onto the Breedlove family. He is the reason for the shame and violence brought upon the Breedlove’s. Looking at the novel through the lens of Cholly’s character and past, we can see why the Breedlove’s are society’s target for hatred.

By examining pages 38 through 44 in The Bluest Eye we can see how this small passage about who Cholly is changes the way we look at the entire novel. We are able to see that it is because of Cholly that the Breedlove family has been the target of violence. Upon one of Cholly’s or any man’s most memorable moment, losing his virginity, he was humiliated by two white men. As the lines states, “When he was still very young, Cholly had been surprised in some bushes by two white men while he was newly but earnestly engaged in eliciting sexual pleasure from a little country girl…For some reason Cholly had not hated the white men; he hated, despised, the girl”(Morrison, 42). This moment in Cholly’s life has the greatest significance to the person he turned out to be. Cholly handled the situation by not going up against white men who are more powerful than him, the white men who embarrassed him, but instead unleashing his rage on the black women in his life who are socially less powerful than him. I believe this was the moment in Cholly’s life that has affected his future the most, thus the reason behind the Breedlove’s pain.

Cholly has a humiliating past has shaped the person he’s turned out to be. For starters, he was abandoned by his mother at birth so he deals with feelings of neglect. His inability to express his feelings contributes to some of his horrific actions. For example, the following quote shows how raping Pecola was his own way of expressing how he felt about her, “What could he do for her – ever? What give her? What say to her? What could a burned-out black man say to the hunched back of his eleven-year-old daughter? If he looked into her face, he would see those haunted, loving eyes. The hauntedness would irritate him – the love would move him to fury. How dare she love him? Hadn’t she any sense at all? What was he supposed to do about that? Return it? How?” (161). Does it make Cholly’s actions anymore right? NO! Morrison seems to be making a case of sympathy for Cholly, but his actions are beyond sympathetic. The thought of a father and daughter having a sexual relationship is sickening to anybody with a right mind, and the thought of a father raping his daughter should be sickening to everybody. This is one of the most disgusting and vile actions associated with the Breedlove’s.

Looking closely at both Cholly and Pecola we can see how violence is associated with them. For Cholly, violence is just a tool needed to control another person. He physically abused Paulina because it was his way of controlling her. Morrison made both these characters so they need each other. They find meaning in their lives by abusing each other and inflicting pain. The violence within the Breedlove home caused by Cholly has become an ugly representation of who they are. Cholly’s humiliating experience as a young man made him feel powerless, which he was. So this one moment is the reason behind his actions. The reason behind why he needs to physically abuse Pauline or be violent. As a result of Cholly, of who he is, and what he’s done, the Breedlove’s became the target of violence.

There are many forms of violence throughout the novel such as physical, verbal, and racism. An important form of violence seen in the novel is racism. Throughout the black community there seems to be racism directed at themselves. They believe the stereotype within their own race that perceive Americans as far superior in terms of intelligence and beauty. Racism stemming from Pocola’s own race creates wounds that are deeper than racism coming from other races. One’s own race is supposed to be more understanding of what they’re all going through, so being the target of racism by your own race is painful. At one point in the novel there were a group of boys circling around Pecola yelling, “Black e mo. Black e mo. Yadaddsleepsnekked. Black e mo black e mo ya dadd sleeps necked. Black e mo…” (65). Pecola was always a constant target whether it be by her own race or by another.

The community viewed Pecola as if she were trash as seen through the lines, “The birdlike gestures are worn away to a mere picking and plucking her way between the tire rims and the sunflowers, between Coke bottles and milkweed, among all the waste and beauty of the world – which is what she herself was. All of our waste which we dumped on her and which she absorbed. And all of our beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us.”(205). This quote states the community took out all their uncertainties onto Pecola. All the ugliness and everything negative they felt resided within themselves were thrown on Pecola as she became a dumpster for all the waste. It can be said that Pecola has suffered the most out of her family. Being raped by her father put a large negative cloud surrounding her that only highlighted how ugly her community believed she was. Hurtful words of racism can sometimes hurt more than physical violence. As Geraldine said, “His mother did not like him to play with niggers. She had explained to him the difference between colored people and niggers. They were easily identifiable. Colored people were neat and quiet; niggers were dirty and loud.” (87). These lines exemplify how deep racism ran and now she would pass it down to a younger generation so he may think and behave the same way she does. Even upon Pecola’s birth the extent of racism was off the charts. While Paulina was giving birth the doctor by her bed says, “These here women you don’t have any trouble with. They deliver right away and with no pain. Just like horses.” (124-125). This scene demonstrates how Pauline was dehumanized by being compared to an animal. The doctor’s verbal abuse is beyond cruel and can be seen as extremely violent action even though it’s not physical.

5 things you might not know about blue eyes

woman with blue eyes

About half as many Americans have blue eyes as brown eyes. Worldwide, fewer than 9% of people have blue eyes. Blue eyes aren’t even actually blue. Rather than including a blue pigment, they actually just lack the pigment that makes eyes brown.

1. Everyone with blue eyes is related

Between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago, a baby was born in Europe with a harmless genetic mutation. That little DNA blip was blue eye color, according to researchers at the University of Copenhagen.

As far as researchers can tell, this was the first person with blue eyes, and everyone who has blue eyes today is a (very) distant relative of this ancient human.

“Originally, we all had brown eyes,” said Hans Eiberg, associate professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the university.

“But a genetic mutation affecting the OCA2 gene in our chromosomes resulted in the creation of a ‘switch,’ which literally turned off the ability to produce brown eyes.”

Eye color depends on how much of a pigment called melanin lives in the iris of the eye. Melanin is also responsible for the color of our skin, eyes and hair.

This genetic switch limits how much melanin is produced in the iris — effectively “diluting” brown eyes to a shade of blue.

In addition to having significantly less melanin in their irises than people with brown eyes, hazel eyes or green eyes, blue-eyed individuals don’t have very much variation in the part of their DNA responsible for melanin production.

Brown-eyed individuals, on the other hand, have a lot more variation.

“From this we can conclude that all blue-eyed individuals are linked to the same ancestor,” said Eiberg. “They have all inherited the same switch at exactly the same spot in their DNA.”

2. Blue eyes aren’t actually blue

Blue eye color is determined by melanin, and melanin is actually brown by nature.

The color of our eyes depends on how much melanin is present in the iris. Brown eyes have the highest amount of melanin in the iris, and blue eyes have the least.

Brown melanin is the only pigment that exists in the eye; there is no pigment for hazel or green — or blue. Eyes only appear to be these colors because of the way light strikes the layers of the iris and reflects back toward the viewer.

3. You can’t predict if a child will have blue eyes

At one time, it was believed that eye color, blue eyes included, was a simple genetic trait. Common knowledge said that you could predict a child’s eye color if you knew the color of their parents’ eyes, and possibly the color of their grandparents’ eyes.

Or so we thought.

Geneticists now know that as many as 16 different genes influence eye color to some degree — far from the one or two genes that were once believed to determine iris hue.

In addition to genetics, the anatomic structure of the iris can also affect eye color to some degree.

In other words, it’s impossible to know for sure if your children will have blue eyes — or any other color. Both parents may have icy blue eyes, but that’s no guarantee their child’s eyes will even be blue at all.

4. Blue eyes at birth doesn’t mean blue eyes for life

Human eyes don’t have their full amount of melanin pigment at birth. This is why many babies are born with blue eyes, only to have their eye color change as their irises develop more melanin throughout early childhood.

So don’t be concerned if your child begins to lose their baby-blue eye color. It’s completely normal to see blue become brown, hazel, or even green as they get a little older.

This color transition can take anywhere from a few months to three years to run its course.

5. Blue eyes come with a few risks

Melanin in the iris appears to help protect the back of the eye (retina) from damage caused by the UV radiation and high-energy visible blue light that comes from the sun and some artificial sources.

Because blue eyes contain less melanin than most other eye colors, they may be more at risk of certain damage.

Research has shown that lighter iris colors are associated with:

  • A higher risk of ocular uveal melanoma (a type of eye cancer)
  • A lower risk of developing cataracts
  • No difference in the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration

Since many people with blue eye color are more sensitive to light and may have a higher risk of retinal damage from UV rays, eye doctors often recommend that people with blue eyes be a little more cautious about their exposure to sunlight.

Eye damage from UV and blue light appears to be related to your lifetime exposure to these rays, so wearing sunglasses that block 100% UV (and most blue light) should start during childhood, when possible.

Photochromic lenses are another way to protect blue eyes from UV radiation. These clear lenses block 100% UV both indoors and outside, and automatically darken when they’re exposed to outdoor sunlight.

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