The Blue-Eyed Girl Trope: What Blue Eyes Really Symbolize

With eyes like beautiful shimmering pools, the Blue-Eyed Girl always draws attention – whether she’s a sweet, innocent, or an alluring vixen, there’s just something about her. So, let’s take a deeper look at the Blue Eyed Girl trope, analyze her two main types, and explore what really drives the blue-eye obsession. Here’s our Take!

The Blue-Eyed Girl On Screen

On-screen, the Blue Eyed Girl is almost always an object of affection - and, sometimes, jealousy - because she stands out thanks to her striking eyes. One of the main reasons people often cite for the interest in blue eyes is their relative rarity: they’re not the most uncommon eye color, but only approximately 27% of the US population has them, and only around 10% across the entire globe. Scarcity almost always makes things more desirable, whether it’s jewels or, first editions of books or limited edition shoes, and this often gets applied to people as well. And this doesn’t just apply to women. Men, too, are regularly noted as being exceptionally desirable due to their eyes. But with women in particular, blue eyes are often seen as representations of her entire character, the clearest of glass in the windows to her soul.

This can lead to people making a lot of assumptions about the Blue Eyed Girl – who kind of person she is, what she wants out of life, some people feel that just by looking into her eyes they know everything about her. Similarly to the Wide Eyed Girl, the blue-eyed girl often finds herself being sexualized due to her perceived innocence. Guys will often say that they just can’t help but fall for the blue-eyed girl. And this leads to many people projecting things onto her, in particular men projecting their own fantasies. It can be very easy for her to get stuck in a box where people don’t really take note of anything else about her. And because blue eyes are held up as such ideal markers of beauty, women with brown eyes (aka most women) are often made to feel less than. This desire to change oneself to have blue eyes so that you can be special, or beautiful, or just fit in has long reverberated through our culture. And obviously there is the issue of who, specifically, is most likely to have blue eyes in the first place and the larger societal impacts there- which we’ll dive into in a moment.

The Blue-Eyed Girl usually falls into one of two categories: the sweet, doe-eyed innocent or the icy, striking beauty – so let’s unpack each of these subtropes and what they really represent.

Sweet Baby Blues

Blue eyes are often referred to as “baby blues.” This connection to youth is literal, as many children are born with blue eyes that then develop more melanin over time, but also a big indicator of one of the traits most often associated with blue eyes: innocence. This version of the Blue Eyed Girl is seen as naive and sincere, transparent in motivation and untainted by the harsher parts of the world. In this purest “innocent” form, she often appears as a manic pixie dream girl, a dreamy, outgoing, loving, bold fantasy for a lonely male character in need of an escape from his everyday life. Even characters who are very much not manic pixie dream girls can still find themselves in relationships where the guy very badly wants to mold them into that ‘perfect’ version that exists in his mind, no matter how hard she tries to stop it, especially when he’s too busy getting lost in her eyes to actually listen to what she’s saying.

This presumption of innocence or inherent goodness can, of course, work in the blue-eyed girl’s favor as well, helping to obfuscate some of her more unsavory traits or unquestionable choices. On Gilmore Girls, Rory was precocious and strong-willed but also a bit of a brat, and she could often slip her way out of trouble or manage to tip things in her favor with the help of her bright blue eyes. Cassie Howard spends much of Euphoria’s second season crying her big blue eyes out – but no matter what she does, she’s always framed as being driven by a sense of naivete and innocent desire. The people around Cassie project all kinds of ideas onto her about who she really is or what she’s really like, and over time, this becomes incredibly detrimental to her own sense of self. But while the world is not kind to her in many ways, on the other side of the coin, society has often given her leeway when it comes to consequences for her actions because of her looks, so she can have a hard time accepting when she is in fact in the wrong. But not every blue-eyed girl on screen is so sincere and innocent.

Ice Queens

The blue-eyed ice queens hold court on the other side of this trope. They are very aware of the power their piercing gaze affords them, and they’re willing to use it to get what they want and they don’t feel the need to hide behind a haze of sweetness. Sometimes, she’s a more overt villain, but often, she’s just a beautiful woman who’s not actively nefarious but also not really concerned by any destruction that might happen to get left in her wake. And sometimes, she didn’t start out so cold but had to build up a shield to protect herself from the world around her.

This version of the blue-eyed girl has a much more clear vision of the world as it is, for better and worse. Because of this, she often attempts to use other people’s idea of her to her advantage. If people think she’s dumb, she’ll play along until it’s time to strike. She’ll lean into the assumption that she’s sweet as can be to help everyone ignore the reality of how she behaves. And she’s often even willing to exploit the way the world sexualizes her; since she knows she can’t really avoid it, she figures she might as well be the one in control. And while sometimes she’s just using what she’s got to keep her head above water, sometimes she does cause real problems. Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, whose disastrous story was turned into a hit Hulu miniseries The Dropout starring Amanda Seyfried, fooled investors through a number of tactics, including playing into the ‘sweet blue-eyed girl’ trope – not so much ditzy or naive but wide-eyed at the possibilities of the future in a way that drew people in without them asking too many questions. As The Verge wrote, “Holmes’ mythos helped smooth out any cognitive dissonance that might have occurred on the part of investors who may have otherwise wondered why the board… didn’t have anyone on it with experience in diagnostics.”

Of course, not all icy blue-eyed girls – on screen or in real life – have nefarious motives. But because she doesn’t have the saccharine aura of the innocent blue-eyed girls and isn’t hiding behind a fake smile, she can often be taken for calculated or standoffish. It can, at times, be hard for her to get people to acknowledge who she is beyond her appearance.

Blue-Eyed Biases & Looking Toward a More Equal Future

While the influence of eye color has pros and cons for the blue-eyed girl, it also has much more wide-reaching societal implications as well. While blue eyes do occur across all populations, they have a significantly higher incidence among white people. And so the upholding of blue eyes as special and superior has long been part and parcel of Western beauty standards that seek to uphold white standards of beauty. This can lead to people who don’t fit the mold being discriminated against or feeling like they have to do whatever they can to conform. Toni Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye, expertly unpacks the detrimental effects this can have as it follows Pecola, a young black girl who desperately wishes for blue eyes in the hope that they would allow her to be beautiful in the eyes of the white community around her and safe from the pain and suffering that fills her life.

While we have certainly not been freed from these beauty standards, people have continued to take steps towards openly loving themselves as they are. And the culture is shifting to accept the fact that blue eyes shouldn’t be held up as an ideal but just seen as one part of a range of beautiful options. Basing ideas of beauty off of any one look or feature is a recipe for discrimination and misery for everyone. Blue-eyed girls shouldn’t have to worry about being fetishized for their eye color, and everyone else shouldn’t be treated as less than for not having them. It’s critical that we work to create a culture where everyone feels beautiful and accepted in their own body. The eyes are the window to the soul, so it’s time we all started looking at what’s on the inside.