Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self

In “Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self,” Walker describes a gun accident that she suffered at the age of eight. The accident renders one of her eyes blind and alters her facial appearance permanently.  This experience changes her from a beautiful and confident child to one who would not dare raise her head for fear of exposing her wounds.  The narrative traces the evolution of Walker’s personality from childhood to adulthood, providing vivid descriptions of the negative consequences of the loss of her beauty. She had a child at the age of 27, who lets her know that a world exists in her eye. At the close of the narrative, Walker accepts and celebrates her identity as beautiful and free. Walker develops shame because of her lost beauty and different treatment from her family.

Walker’s identity as a young girl had a deep connection to her body. Like any other child or adult, beauty gives confidence and a sense of self-worth. At the beginning of the essay, as Walker delivers an Easter speech, she has a lively spirit that originates not only because others recognized her brilliance, but also because she was a beautiful child (Walker 2). The latter characteristic appears to be more critical towards shaping her identity as opposed to her intelligence. As a six-year-old girl, Walker is deeply aware of herself. When the accident occurs at eight years, Walker already had conceptualized her identity, which made it difficult to adjust to her lost beauty.

Apart from developing shame because of her injuries, Walker’s family start to treat her differently. The different treatment causes her to become more aware of her altered face and lose her confidence further. The family members also deny the apparent changes that had happened in Walker’s life (Kerr 4).  Although the family denies the changes to protect her confidence, Walker views this as a failure to share her perspective of the overturned world. In contrast to her family’s denial, she remembers clearly not raising her head for six years because of the shame that she suffered after her injuries. The narrative reveals a disconnect between the suffering of individuals whose bodies change after illnesses or accidents and the efforts that families and society put in support of such persons.

The narrative brings to perspective a vital conversation about the family and its role in shaping medical narratives. Does a tale of an illness or injury belong to the patient or the family? The disconnect between Walker’s perception and that of her family suggests that individuals have an enduring psychological impression of their injuries or illnesses regardless of the narrative created to support them (Saltzberg et al.). Perhaps, Walker’s story highlights the need for constructing a shared narrative between patients and families. Does denial eventually result in coping? In Walker’s case, denial not only leads to poor coping but also delays the acceptance of a new reality.

Walker’s main quest is to amplify the importance of hearing patients accurately and the role it plays in promoting healing. Even amid atrocity and hopelessness, patient perceptions and stories still matter. In Walker’s case, elements such as eye contact, body language and physical touch seem to be important indicators of engagement, understanding and love. She points out that her family started to treat her differently after the accident. She reveals the possibility of a misunderstanding between the intention of families and the perceptions of patients during patient encounters.

Walker uses a unique writing skill to communicate the relevance of the injuries to her daily life. In a section of her discussion, she uses the present tense to describe past events. In essence, this style of writing reinforces Walker’s perception that illness or injury is never in the past, especially one that leaves permanent physical or emotional reminders (Dunn et al. 6). The essay stresses the need for sensitivity toward individuals who cannot hide their physical or emotional scars. On the brighter side, Walker’s story concludes in a hopeful message, i.e. acceptance is critical towards unlocking a happy life. Support systems from family and friends have a crucial role in acknowledging personal pain and encouraging adaptation.

In conclusion, Walker’s story is an eye-opener on the need to deconstruct assumptions and biases that families and society have about the coping mechanisms of patients. While changes in appearance may change the perception of families and elucidate the need for sympathy, family members must be ready to accept physical and emotional changes in patients. Denial will hamper a person’s coping mechanism as well as lengthen the adjustment period for victims. The most important revelation is the connection between the body and an individual’s personality. Regardless of a person’s age, physical injuries raise self-awareness levels and impact on self-confidence and personal worth. The narrative also reveals the possibility of hope amid despair. With proper family support and individual acceptance, it is possible to overcome physical and emotional injuries caused by illnesses and accidents. Health provides can also use this narrative to find effective ways of managing patients who suffer significant physical injuries.

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