In the book "The Bluest Eye" Pecola has grown up in a society that values everything white. In the school setting, the lightest skin girls are thought to be the most attractive. When the children compare their features they are compared to the features that a white girl has.
In the book Pescola's low self-esteem has derived as much from the sexual and physical abuse that she has received as a child. She was raped by her father, constantly belittled, and in the community berated and treated as a victim. She can not even escape the terrors ad humiliation in the school setting or neighborhood.
When she becomes pregnant and te child dies, she reverts back to her thoughts that having blue eyes would make her beautiful like the girls in the white world. She wants to be of value and beautiful. She has descended into a mentally damaged state.
Pescola's behavior is not uncommon for black girls. Studies were performed in the 1960's that had children choosing between two dolls, a black doll and a white doll. When asked which doll was the good doll the black children chose the white doll. It has taken many years to surpass the degradation of the days of blacks being treated like nothing or dirt so it stands to reason that in a society of such that Pescola who is a dark skinned girl, would feel lowly about herself. She has no one to guide her or teach her any different.
Toni Morrison explores the injustice that Black and African-American women’s vision of beauty is that of the 1940s Shirley Temple icon: blonde hair and blue eyes. Because Pecola does not fit into that category because she has a different skin and eye color, she believes and has been taught by a white society that Black is not beautiful.
Her low-self esteem is further manipulated during her life because she has not been truly loved, she has been raped, and she has been brought up in a life of great turmoil with her family.