Autobiography of a Face: Lucy Grealy
The psychology of beauty is complex not just because the concept of beauty is as yet undefined, but also because it is largely true that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder or how individuals perceive other people or things. The importance of beauty has been taught since the first civilizations. It is known that the cave people of the Mesolithic period (around 10,000 B.C.) softened their skin with castor oil and grease, and also used plant dyes to tattoo their skin. Lipsticks first appeared in the ancient city off Ur, near Babylon, 5000 years ago. Ancient Greek women painted their cheeks with herbal pastes made from crushed berries and seeds. A dangerous development of beauty treatments was the use of white lead and mercury on faces to achieve a chalky complexion. These heavy metals were absorbed through the skin and resulted in many deaths. This so called beauty treatment remained in vogue down the ages. The useful may be trusted to further itself, for many produce it and no one can do without it; but the beautiful must be specially encouraged, for few can present it, while yet all have need of it. Beauty does not lie in the face. It lies in the harmony between a person and his or her industry. Beauty is expression. Lucy Grealy’s book Autobiography of a Face takes a deep look at the societal stereotypes and perceptions. At the end of her book she writes “Society is no help. It tells us again and again that we can most be ourselves by acting and looking like someone else , only to leave our original faces behinds to turn in ghosts that will inevitably resent and haunt us” (pg. 222). This passage is in the conclusions; because through her experience she was face with the social and cultural expectation Grealy’s life after her cancer was filled taunts and stares from strangers. These judgments made Grealy very concerned with the perception of how others saw her. In Lucy Grealy’s...
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