Here are three discussion posts sent in from other classmates. Rely to one of them and talk about the reading of this autobiography. Create a discussion and flush out what it is the author is talking about.
Here are the full directions!!!!!!!!
Use this Discussion Board to work through thoughts, reactions, and questions in informal, low-stakes writing as you read Autobiography of a Face. In your posts (due by Monday at midnight), you may find that you raise more questions than you answer in these posts. You’ll also find that your classmates’ ideas and interpretations can serve as catalysts for your own analysis later in your own Body Stories.
Your posts should be 300 words minimum and should close-read a passage (or passages) from the memoir and from a theoretical essay (or essays); begin to “put them in conversation” as you did for your Short Analysis Essay.
Students post #1
Lucy Grealy’s memoir “Autobiography of a Face,” explores Grealy’s experience grappling with her identity and self-worth. In her analyzation concerning self-consciousness, Grealy says beauty is “defined by society at large, seemed to be only about who was best at looking like everyone else” (Grealy 186). This quote allowed me to finally sit with the fact that in our society, self-worth is directly linked to beauty. I was able to analyze what I consider to be beauty ideals, and not-surprisingly I found that what I value has been submersed in socially constructed standards. Grealy analyzes her self-image in junction with identity. Beauty ideals are socially constructed and enable a disabling environment. Sieber’s theory of complex embodiment aligns well with Grealy’s experience navigating her identity. Using Sieber’s complex embodiment theory to analyze Grealys lived experience reveals the impacts of a disabling environment; she says, “the hospital is the only place on earth where I didn’t feel self-conscious” (Grealy 186). Grealy prefers the hospital because it is the only place she can escape disabling environments. Her disabling environment gave her a false reality of her self-worth. Grealy was embodied by social standards and, in turn, associated her plastic surgery with a chance to finally be of value. Grealy’s reflection of her operations reveals how deeply impacted she has been by the implications of her disfiguration, “I knew there would always be another operation, another chance for my life to finally begin” (Grealy 186). The relationship she has with appearance and self-worth is encompassed with toxicity. Her environment impacted how she perceived herself and equated that with her own self-worth. Grealy later chose to create an abling environment for herself. She is later able to find self-acceptance with her body after dismantling her personal beliefs on beauty. Grealy’s memoir not only acted as the catalyst for me to question what I consider to be ‘worthy,’ but it also shed light on my internalization of socially constructed beauty ideals.
Students post #2
I really enjoyed reading Lucy Grealy’s Autobiography of a Face. At one point, Grealy says, regarding her hair covering her face, “…certainly no one there was going to make fun of me, but I was beyond that point. By then I was perfectly capable of doing it all to myself” (185). Her self-policing and self-consciousness are prime examples of both Foucault’s panopticism and DuBois’ double consciousness.
For Grealy, she knows that others are watching her, that she is constantly, unless in the hospital, being seen and being judged. Like we know from panopticism, this leads her to begin to do it to herself. She is so used to this surveillance of her physical self that she internalizes it and acts upon it, policing her own body, changing how it is seen by others, and even herself. Even if, as she says in her quote, others are not watching at the moment, she is. Grealy’s use of the word “to” just exemplifies this. It is something done to her, by her. Different from an experience that she partakes in, it is something that happens to her, repeatedly, because of others, and now because of herself.
This also relates to themes of double consciousness in that she is aware of how others see her in relationship to how she sees herself. For the majority of her life, she wrestles with this, thinking about beauty and desirability. She questions how much weight she should give to the views that other people have about her, trying not to feel the pain of their words. As she grows up though, her reconstructions serve as ways for her to pass as “beautiful”, so that she may be lovable. She laments on this saying that she thought after her reconstructions, “wasn’t someone supposed to fall in love with me, wasn’t life supposed to work now?” (204). This is a different type of passing than we have seen before, as it is not for direct safety or survival, but at the heart of it, it is still Grealy altering herself in order to achieve a version that is more acceptable, so that she may move through and with the world in a different way. Here, these changes are (supposed to be) permanent, changing more of her internal identity and prolonged view of her own body and self. They, along with her other comments about what beauty is, should serve as points for us all to begin to reflect on what we believe beauty is, and why.
Students post #3
Lucy Grealy’s moving memoir Autobiography of a Face portrays a story of a body in pain – one which Grealy experienced physically, emotionally, and psychologically.
Having undergone extensive chemotherapy, Grealy writes, “I identified the problem as my baldness, as this thing that wasn’t really me but some digression from me, some outside force beyond my control. I assumed that once the problem was solved, once my hair grew back in, I would be complete again, whole, and all of this would be over, like a bad dream” (p. 99). As I read this particular passage, I was reminded of Vivyan Adair’s Stigmata and her discussion on disheveled bodies. Adair writes, “As children, our disheveled and unkempt bodies were produced as signs of our inferiority… [and] were read as signs of our inner chaos, immaturity, selfishness, and indecency” (p. 1). I am intrigued by Adair’s idea of her “disheveled bod[y]” functioning as a sign, one that portrayed primarily negative traits in the eyes of others, placed in relation to Grealy’s sentiments about her feeling incomplete – not “whole.”
To speak on Adair’s experiences is to dually speak on Foucault’s Panopticism. Grealy experienced immense pain not so much from the medical procedures operated on her but rather from the inherent and ever-present “social gaze” of the doctors and nurses in the hospital, the other kids in school, and society as a whole interconnected being. Like Foucault posits, the contemporary society is a panoptic one, where individuals both self-police as well as police others. The “others” are inherent via the strange gazes and the merciless commentary directed towards Grealy, while the self-policing function is inherent in the aforementioned passage. Grealy equates the loss of hair with being incomplete, further driving her insecurity and feelings of shame and guilt for her “incomplete” body. And akin to Adair’s experiences, Grealy is in a constant tug-of-war with her own body and subsequently with her own self in part of the disabling environments in which both women lived.
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