Flowers in California

Flowers in California

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What We Look Like

I have been in 2 cities where the Body Worlds exhibit has been on but I have not been to see it. I do not know whether I will go. I expect that I will. It might disturb me but as my very wise brother has said before about me "You have a morbid curiosity for the unpleasant."

Having seen advertising for the exhibit, I feel that I already know to some extent what it would be like. Interesting? Maybe. Upsetting? Quite possibly. I think too that it has the capacity to change the way that we think about each other.

From what I've seen of the bodies included in the show, and these really are human bodies with their skin removed, everyone kind of looks the same. I know that there are different sizes and poses, and bodies would be in different conditions of health and disease. But let's face it, none of them look a lot prettier or uglier or blacker or whiter. None of them has better hair. Whether they have acne or wrinkles or both is not apparent. Of course, for these departed people, none of this matters anymore. But did it ever?

To me, showing humans in these ways shows that superficial differences in appearance shouldn't matter. Clearly, underneath those differences, our bodies are pretty much the same. How does that translate to what happens in real life?

Well, we know what happens. Money and time are poured into looking good and trying to look young despite the realities of time and mortality. Physically attractive people seem to be treated better and get further ahead in some fields. I admit that I have a celebrity crush on an actor that I consider extremely attractive. Yes, I'm part of the problem. Society often treats looks like they matter.

Underneath everyone's surface, though, is a body like the ones we see at Body Worlds. I think that there's a lesson to be learned here.


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