Thursday, August 21, 2008


I remember in high school I loved swapping scar stories with people -- learning the stories embedded in their flesh and telling mine: this is from when I flew over a jump sledding and landed on glass in the snow, from when I climbed on the hood of my buddy's car and he accelerated and my chin hit the windshield, from when they operated on my knee, from when I used a disposable razor as an early shaver before going to the beach and sliced myself, from when I fell off a sea wall and was gashed by barnacles, from when my brother swung a golf club and hit me in the lip, from when I had the chickenpox, from when my brother chopped my head with a plastic axe, from when I burned my hand in campfire ash etc.

Scars are bits of our stories.
Wrinkles are too:
These lines are from all the times I've laughed in my life, from all the times I've been outside and squinted, from moments of frowning as I've thought things over, wondered, hurt.

We do a lot in our culture to cover our scars and wrinkles. We rub on vitamin E and all sorts of serums. We cake on makeup. We inject collagen and botox. We reconstruct parts of our bodies -- our faces, our breasts, our stomachs.

Sometimes reconstruction is in response to real loss -- losing a breast from cancer for example. And sometimes it is in response to disappointment -- in how we've looked all our lives or how we've changed over the years. It seems always to be in response to our values of what shoudl be and our perceived sense of wholeness. Our reconstruction mirrors our values.

The other day I tried to imagine what it would look like if there were no reconstruction of any sort. We would know women (or more women) with one breast or no breasts. We would look at people's faces and have a sure sense of how full their living has been. We would allow bodies to soften or widen as hormone levels change. We would wear our stories a lot more. Our ages. Our close calls. Less would be hidden.

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