Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On living with disfigurement

Yesterday the story of Connie Culp, a face transplant recipient, was told. She was shot by her husband in 2004.

The blast shattered her nose and cheeks, the roof of her mouth and an eye. Hundreds of fragments of shotgun pellet and bone splinters were embedded in her face. She needed a tube in her windpipe to breathe. Only her upper eyelids, forehead, lower lip and chin were left. She endured 30 operations to try to fix her face.

Her message was one of gratitude to the donor and their family. She also spoke about her experience of living with disfigurement.

“When somebody has a disfigurement and don’t look as pretty as you do, don’t judge them because you never know what happened to them,” she said. “Don’t judge people who don’t look the same as you do. Because you never know. One day it might be all taken away.”

David Roche recently wrote in The Metaphor of Facial Disfigurement about his facial disfigurement, his inner journey and work in middle schools with a program called Love at Second Sight. His words about everyone's battle with living an integrated and full life are worth reading.

Here is the crux of it: everyone has the fear of being in some way defective, unlovable and unacceptable to society. That is the true disfigurement. The place deep inside us where that fear lives is where predators come to feed. I submit that there is another way of looking at facial difference-one based on the truth of human experience. The artistic metaphor of a scarred face can be one of personal integration. Every person must reach the point of self acceptance. That magical moment is the key to living an integrated and full life. A person with facial difference can represent someone who has lived through that moment.

Love at Second Sight is about appearance, acceptance, and diversity.

David has done a video talking about living with disfigurement and peoples' reactions - and about belonging.

'the second glance' from Nic Askew on Vimeo.


blue girl said...

Okay. That was absolutely wonderful. Wow. Thanks for posting that, Ruth.

Wheelie Catholic said...

Thanks. I loved his video.