Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A New Face

I'm still processing all the Derby stuff and posting my take over at BlogHer but a story in today's news has me distracted.

A woman in Cleveland, Ohio who had received the nation's first face transplant had remained anonymous ... until today. Connie Culp, who had had her face destroyed when her husband shot her in a failed murder-suicide attempt, literally faced the press to say this:

"When somebody has a disfigurement and don't look as pretty as you do, don't judge them, because you never know what happened to them. Don't judge people who don't look the same as you do. Because you never know. One day it might be all taken away."
Facial disfigurement stuff always hits close to home and I applaud Connie's courage in facing cameras. The main reason I started taking photographs was to avoid being in them.

My parents raised me with the philosophy, "Beauty is on the inside" and it's a lovely sentiment but society doesn't always agree. The reality is, people like pretty people better and that's just not going to change. Also, if it looks like you've been hurt, it scares people because they see scars and they imagine pain; it's uncomfortable for them.

Connie's psychiatrist Dr. Kathy Coffman, relayed a story that really got to me:

Once while shopping, she heard a little kid say, `You said there were no real monsters, Mommy, and there's one right there,'" Coffman said. Culp stopped and said, "I'm not a monster. I'm a person who was shot," and pulled out her driver's license to show the child what she used to look like, the psychiatrist said.

This story sparked a childhood memory: I recall running around with the neighbor kids when we learned that a new family had moved in down the street, the Morenos - and they had four kids! We all went to investigate. There stood Ricky, Irene, Oscar and Carlos - ready to play.

Oscar, a happy, chubby kid a few years younger took one look at me and his face lit up with delight. He immediately walked up, grabbed my hand and said: "Ooooh! I like you! I like monster movies!" and off we went.

I still think about that and laugh but also remember my confusion. 'What did I have to do with monster movies?' As with all kid comments, the translation is quite literal.

I also remember a boy I had a crush on in middle school say to me: "If you didn't have that thing on your face, you'd be such a babe." And then - here's the kicker - I said, "Thanks!" with real gratitude.

Seriously. I THANKED HIM. This is how insecure we are at 13 so what are you gonna do? To this day, the worst thing someone could say to me is: "I think you're beautiful anyway."

Reading the article this morning, I briefly entertained the fantasy of getting a face transplant. Not necessary, of course. I've finally made peace with mine. Now, if I could just stop the aging process ...


Howard said...

Honestly? At one point, I thought "I wonder what happened there?" and then forgot about it. Then went on loving you. Tee-hee.

BTW, I hope that middle school boy stubbed his little toe... twice in a row!

ClizBiz said...

Oh, Howard! I love this comment. All of it.

hotdrwife said...

God. Kids can be such assholes, can't they?

I love Howard's comment and second the toe-stubbing and raise it a third stubbing for good measure.

Fang Bastardson said...

Hunh. I forgot about your scar years ago.

Just the same, I direct your attention to Mr. Leonard Cohen, who said of himself and Janis Joplin (and by extension all of us who will never be asked play doctors on 'Grey's Anatomy'):

"And clenching your fist for the ones like us
who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
you fixed yourself, you said, "Well never mind,
we are ugly but we have the music."
We're in good company, babe.

Fang Bastardson said...

Sorry for the deleted comments..

For some reason, I can’t separate the last two grafs of my comment this morning. I’m afraid I’ve made a mess of this comment page. I’d try a fourth time, but I’m beginning to feel acutely stoopid...

Laurianna said...

I think I remember seeing the scar on your face the first time I met you, then I never saw it again. I'll never forget the stories you told me of Christy C. sticking up for you at such a young age...her young eyes saw right to your core. And how you refered to the scar as your "filter" for assholes. Love it. AND.... LOVE YOU.


ClizBiz said...

Fang - No worries. You can mess up my comments page any time as long as you are quoting Leonard. Thanks for the reminder. I guess I should keep up with the guitar then, eh?

HDW & Fo: Bless you both.

Heidi's heart said...

Since beginning dialysis on Feb. 2 I have had quite a few "monster moments." Insensitive comments and/or rejection from people who haven't even seen my exit site, tubing, catheter, or bandages, but are scared away nonetheless by the mere mention of dialysis. I too can relate to the face-transplant lady.

Anonymous said...

I have alway thought you beautiful not in spite of, but because of your scars. Scars are only on the survivors, those that have faced soemthing tremndously painful, difficult and came through to the other side to live another day. I look at my own scars and wonder if they were as visible as yours what would people say to me. If I couldn't hide them with clothing and had to explain them, I think people might not like me as much as they think they do. You have the fortune of not being able to hide them until you are ready to share that vunerability, and I think it has advantged you in your life in ways that make me envious. Anyway, to me, beauty is like wealth; It can dazzle those from the outside but actually only appears to have it's advangtes. Sometimes it can just make it eaiser to mask the true defiencies with which we all stuggle.

ClizBiz said...

Anon: Wow. Thank you so much for your kinds words. I wish I knew who you were! In any case, I appreciate your thoughts here, very comforting.

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