Mairs and Grealy

This week I read two inspirational essays- “Mirrorings” by Lucy Grealy and “On Being a Cripple” by Nancy Mairs. Both authors had severe illness but had a different approach to deal with it.

In “Mirrorings” by Lucy Grealy, she talks about her life as a cancer patient and her struggles. When she was 10 years old, the doctors removed the right side of her jaw to prevent the cancer from spreading. There was a time in her life, when she did not look in the mirror for an entire year as she feared to see her ‘ugly reflection”.

I feel that Grealy had a negative self-image as she considered herself ugly and she felt that her life would never be normal. Although she kept telling herself all that, she did not give up finding a way to fix her face. Grealy found it hard to accept her face as it is and move on, however she did not give up finding a cure.  She had a journey with several surgeries and obstacles but at the end she did recognize herself/

In “On Being Crippled” by Nancy Mairs, she talks about her life as a multiple sclerosis patient. She did have her own struggle but her approach was different from Grealy’s. Mairs learned to accept the disease and her new life. She still tried to enjoy life with her illness and had more positive outlook. For example, when she was on her way to California with her family and she thought she had an exacerbation, she decided not to go back home and said “I think we’d better get the hell to California because I don’t know whether I’ll ever make it again”(54).  Another statement made by her that she accepts the disease and her new life was “I’d take a cure;I just don’t need one”(55). This showed that she had a positive attitude towards her disease.

Although I did not have a severe illness like Grealy, I could relate to her more since I had a similar experience. When I was in middle school, I got an infection in my right eye and it was swollen for more than a month. Everyone thought it was a sty (I thought the same as well) but I later found out that my upper eye lid’s pores had been blocked which causes the swelling. For a month I walked with a swollen eye. Everyone would stare at me and make me feel uncomfortable. I went to seven different doctors and all of them told me and my mom and that I needed a surgery. My mom wasn’t comfortable with that idea and she took to me another doctor who finally said that I didn’t need a surgery and instead he gave me medicines. For entire one month when my eye was swollen, I disliked looking at myself in the mirror because I thought I looked hideous. Every day I couldn’t wait for school to be over and go back home and not see anyone. I felt how Grealy thought about school- a battleground. I feel that people’s reaction to my swollen eye and people who mocked Grealy for the way she looked were influenced by social media. Social media has defined beauty in its own terms. We judge people by their looks and not their inner beauty. If not for the social media, people would have different and a positive attitude towards the inner self rather than outer beauty.

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2 Responses to Mairs and Grealy

  1. I enjoyed reading your review of Mairs and Grealy! I like the way you connect bullying back to society, because I also feel that people say and do mean things because they are enforcing the norms. This is very sad, considering how it does nothing to help the person that is doing the taunting, and so much to hurt the person at the receiving end. I can relate a little bit to what you said about the eye infection and how you felt insecure, because when I was younger I used to be bullied because I had a big overbite and front teeth that didn’t fit in my mouth all the way. I would try so hard not to smile and keep my mouth closed instead, because people’s words hurt me so much. Throughout our lives, I think people will always be looking for something wrong with each other because they have such an unrealistic view of beauty.

  2. aliciab23 says:

    I liked how you interpreted both Grealy and Mairs’ essays and related them to your own experience. You’re right in saying that Mairs had a more positive outlook on her disease, I thought the same thing. I thought Grealy tried really hard to change herself by her outward appearance but Mairs appreciated the way she was in spite of her MS. It must have been really hard for you getting teased at school because of your eye! You connected it to how Grealy felt like school was a “battleground” and related it to your own experience. I do believe your last statement about how the social media influences the standard of beauty is true as well. I do believe that even though social media has definitely exacerbated how people view themselves, it still would be impossible not to compare each other in terms of outer beauty. Very nice post!

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