Morbid Intro: The Body Beautiful

Laura Diaz de Arce

The Early Modern artist academies considered the human body the pinnacle of study. To study the body was to engage in beauty, in perfection.

Which is funny, because human bodies are really fucking gross.

No. Really. Gross.

We sweat, we chew, we swallow, shit, piss, ejaculate, vomit, spit. We take material into one hole just to shove out the waste in another form. We’ve got pores that get clogged with refuse, hangnails, sores, ingrown hairs. As a species was are an inelegant assemblage of parts. We are grotesque; only slightly more appealing than a blobfish.

And I want to talk about it.

Not the blobfish, but about us. I want to talk about our bodies and the things we do to it; the gross, morbid things we do, to make ourselves more appealing. The ways we burn ourselves, torture, pluck and prune ourselves into making something seemingly elegant. The ways in which we reshape, reconfigure and remold our meat bags in order to resemble something less than a blobfish. How we treat the body as an aperture in order to hide ourselves, to blend in, or to expose a truer, more curated version.

And I’m going to talk about it, about the nasty things we do to ourselves by talking about the nasty things I’ve done to myself. (No, not those kinds of nasty things. Get your mind out of the gutter.) The things I’ve done and still do to my body in the quest to be something more elegant, to make it more than itself, or to be beautiful. What drives me to do this stuff and how it functions in the culture in which I live.

We’ll be breaking this up into seven parts, focusing on different bodily aspects as follows:

Part 1: Thin

Part 2: Nails

Part 3: Skin and Body Hair

Part 4: Tattoos

Part 5: Hair

Part 6: Piercing

Part 7: Makeup

Why rip open my personal bodily habits with you? Why make my body the dissection point for this? It’s not therapeutic, that’s for sure. There’s a deep, sick part of me that wants to rip open the veneer, peel away the layers and let you know that I know. I know we’re all sick, all weird, and that we’re all trying our hardest to be beautiful. Despite it being about me, it’s about you too, about us and our obsession with the body. Even if the entire process is gross as hell.

Laura Diaz de Arce is a South Florida writer still learning to make peace with her own body. She writes for Book Riot regularly. In 2018 she was published in Tragedy Queens by CLASH Books. She also published a collection of short stories, Monstrosity. Send her llama gifs on twitter @QuetaAuthor. 

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