A Beautiful Thing Essay, Research Paper
A Beautiful Thing
Lucy Grealy, in her essay Mirrors , gives an awesome portrayal of how our external being, as seen by others, shapes and influences our own feelings of inner worth. The author breaks down the true definition of individuality, pointing out that individualism is really nothing more than the way society perceives us. For example, when Lucy was young, her family and doctors rewarded her good behavior (i.e. silence) during chemotherapy by exclaiming, What a brave little girl. Unfortunately, this type of praise installed a false and unhealthy sense of self in Lucy. She became attached to this courageous, stalwart disposition, feeling that her reticence contributed to the approval, attention, and acceptance she received from others. Grealy states, if I broke down, this would be seen as despicable in the eyes of both my parents and doctors. I got tired of being brave, every week I told myself not to cry and every week I failed (50). The author felt that by shedding tears, she had somehow failed to cooperate effectively, leaving disappointment in the heart of her most sought after audience, her parents.
Like so many of us experience today, L. Grealy linked her broken life and lack of self-confidence to her outward, flawed appearance. To illustrate, she writes: I didn t feel I could pass up yet another chance to fix my face, which I confusedly thought concurrent with fixing myself, my soul, my life (49). In most cases, it is not necessarily our own face that humans most desire to change, but similarly, we mistakenly long for modification from the outside inward rather than the inside outward. We struggle with self-acceptance, and ascribe our inadequacy to external blemishes, an outside force,
which denies the possibility for self-assertion and growth. As individuals, when we take on the role of self-martyrdom, we cancel out the likelihood of change because we shift our own responsibility onto others in the form of blame. Many times, we assume improvement and/or approval comes from an origin beyond ourselves (i.e. friends, significant other, children, drugs etc.) and we overlook the internal power that each one of us maintains to alter self-perception.
Throughout Lucy s life she has countless operations to fix her broken, abnormal appearance, believing that through outward assimilation she will discover an inward peace. She struggles daily with her inability to hide visible flaws, not realizing that everyone has ugly and unattractive discrepancies (usually in character, rather than appearance). She states, it is only through image that we experience and make decisions about the everyday world (58). The image that L. Grealy refers to, is not shaped by the outward depiction of how others see us in life. Rather, our perception is molded most by how we personally react to each commonplace experience (i.e. trials) and everyday decisions. Like Grealy, at one time or another, most if us have battled with feelings of insufficiency, worthlessness, and inferiority. Self-fulfillment, however, is never found in another person s actions (which are beyond are control) but it is found in our personal reaction to any situation.
In the end, Lucy does have a procedure that seems to enhance her social reception. However, it is not some surgery that generates an outward public acceptance; it is her self-realization of the invaluable, incomparable self-love that she finds deep within herself, and that my friend is a beautiful thing.