Lucy Grealy Essay

1233 words - 5 pages

Lucy Grealy At one point or another, everyone has felt shame and self-doubt about physical inferiority. In Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy's struggle with cancer appeared minor in comparison to her feelings of repulsiveness because of the deformity it caused. While coming to terms with who she is, the effects of society's stress on beauty and its unforgiving cultural mirror is enhanced by her gender. Females in our society feel more compelled to adapt to the prescribed standards of attractiveness. By means of positive and negative events, she transforms her misfortune into a revelation about beauty and universal truths.The confusion and loneliness of childhood began to engulf her as children began to tease and treat her as inferior: "Hey girl take of your monster mask - oops. She's not wearing a mask!" (118). The Chemotherapy caused hair loss and a sickly appearance and the numerous operations left her face deformed. She felt ugly as a response to people's public display of shock. As if the stares and whispers were not harsh enough, some children would even call her 'baldy' as they would run past and knock off her hat. At school, girls would gaze at her disfigurement and boys would laugh shamelessly as they pointed and blurted out insults. All of these experiences added to the sense of shame that consumed her. Our culture's preoccupation with physical beauty is definitely manifested in our youth and adolescents. At an early age, Lucy was exposed to the cultural drive for perfection in exchange for acceptance.Halloween was a treasured night for Lucy as she was growing up. It gave her an opportunity to break out of her shell and let her true personality shine through. Behind a mask, she felt protected from any nasty comments because no one could acknowledge her physical flaw. Without a second thought, she would ask questions and make bold comments. One of her observations led to one of her eventual revelations. "My sister and her friends never had to worry about their appearance, or so it seemed to me, so why didn't they always feel as bold and as happy as I felt that night?" (120). In the long run, she recognizes that people have to come to terms with feelings of ugliness and imperfection and that people will always be envying someone else's life. She was not completely alone in her feelings of deficiency. The stress for beauty is placed on all women, and most feel they also have shortcomings in attractiveness.Lucy found a source of refuge from society's viciousness in animals. She vowed to love her dogs and cats so extensively that it would prove her worthy to receive that same sort of love. Her romantic relationship with her horses supplied her with the understanding that the characteristics that make people beautiful are not always visible. There was a complete trust that aided in the binding of their personalities. Her days spent with the horses were filled with smiles, laughter, and happiness. Performing well with the horses gave her a...

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