I know I’m a little late to this, but here goes.
I found that I related more to Lucy Grealy’s piece “Mirrorings,” on more a personal level. I’ll admit I felt bad because she clearly had more of a reason to be self-conscious than I did–it was so eye-opening. She changed her personality and her looks (she cut her hair off) because of the way other people perceived her, and in order to cope she told herself that she wasn’t superficial like those other girls. Grealy describes the struggles she went through, how she always looked at something to bring her happiness rather than looking for it in the present, she looked at future surgeries and thought having a normal face would bring her happiness. She adopted small habits (crossing the street when she saw children) and made little adjustments so that she could avoid being made fun of. She felt safer in hospitals than outside. I think a lot of people can relate to her struggle in some ways. I became a “tomboy” so that nobody would look at me and think I cared about my appearance (even though I did). I know a lot of people who base their happiness on how many pounds they have lost or how many pounds they will lose. As for myself, I used to daydream about an older, cooler, trendier version of myself. I thought that, if I could just fix my skin and hair and get taller, I would be SO much happier. What I disliked about Grealy’s piece however, was the fact that after her face became normal, she became happier. I don’t know that this sets a good example for readers, but it’s her actual story. I like how Miars handles her problems in “On Being a Cripple.”
Mairs accepts her disease rather than hide behind a mask like Grealy did. I suppose the difference between the two was that Grealy’s was a visible issue while for Mairs, her disability wasn’t visible to the naked eye. Another reason why Mairs might have had an easier time accepting herself is the difference in age. Grealy was young and vunerable, at a very impressionable age when part of her jaw was removed because of her cancer. Mairs was married already, and much older than Grealy when her disability started to show. Grealy had random men and children give her unwanted attention and make fun of her, while Mairs had the support of her family and nobody picked on her in the same way.
I really like how she handled her disease, it was inspirational.