In a vintage Twilight Zone episode, a woman is coming out of anesthesia after cosmetic surgery. As she impatiently waits for the doctor to remove the bandages around her face, she nervously anticipates the results. As the doctor slowly unwinds the wrappings, the nurses surrounding the patient look on, trying to hide their feelings. For when the camera pans to the woman’s face, we see a beautiful face, and wonder why. We finally see the faces of the medical professionals, of who have the faces of a pig.
This television episode explored how beauty is relative. To us in the real world, pig people appear rather hideous. Here, pig faces are the epitome of beauty.
I was born with a physical disorder that affected the way I look, move, and sound. My body is asymmetrical, including my face, limbs, and crooked spine. Due to my cleft palate and resulting surgeries, I sound like a child with a perpetual cold. Because of my crooked spine, causing parts of it to be naturally fused, my movements are stiff.
Throughout my lifetime I have been stared at by all ages, from a brief moment to throughout a meal at a restaurant. I have been followed in stores, mocked like a monkey, and treated as if I was intellectually delayed or about to break.
All because of my body. It betrays me, the mind, heart, and spirit within. I am so much more than my body, but yet I am judged solely by it. I have been rejected by men, discriminated against in school and in the workplace, and bullied in said places.
My body is a science experiment, an anomaly in the world of genetics. I have been poked and prodded by medical professionals, displayed naked in the doctors’ office as if an animal in a zoo, and a constant sense of wonder and surprise for any new doctor I meet.
All because of my body. It is only a suitcase, to take me from Point A to Point B. It holds in all my organs, bones, muscles, and cells, and protects me from the elements. And yet because of my disfigurement, I have been treated as if I am an alien from outer space. I come in peace.
In God’s Word, it tells me that God created me, wonderfully and beautifully. People say, “God don’t make no junk.” Yet I struggled with my body for forty years. I did all I could to look and sound as “normal” as I could. I walked straight as a board to belie my crooked spine. I wore make-up and had long and curly hair, to hide my face and crooked neck. I wore fashionable clothes that accentuated my skinny form. I did all I could to create a “false” me.
Not that there’s anything wrong with doing any of those things. It is good for your back to walk and sit straight. Make-up, styled hair, and fashionable clothes can exude confidence in a woman. But nothing I ever did could hide this body of mine.
So I gave up on make-up. I cut my hair to shoulder length. I still get it colored and permed (due to genetic factors I also grayed early). I don’t wear fancy clothes anymore. I wear jeans and tops. Comfortable clothes that still manage to look good on my body.
I started instead to eat better and exercise. Instead of my body being a curse, it was something I needed to take care of. It’s going to be with me until I die, so if I want quality of life, I better be healthy.
Now I like to look at myself in the mirror. I focus on the good parts: my figure, clear complexion, hazel eyes, full lips, slim body, hands and feet. I still can’t see myself on video, my stiff movements, or hear myself on audio, my stuffy childish voice. But I love me and like me. After forty years.
I like to think that in Heaven, I’ll get a perfect body, with perfect voice, and perfect movements. I’ll finally be able to sing without anyone yelling at me to shut up, and dance without looking like a robot. Until then, I will just have to pretend I have the voice of an angel and the dance of a ballerina.