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Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy

            Autobiography of a Face is a memoir written by a woman whose face is disfigured by childhood cancer. The author, Lucy Grealy, is both physically and emotionally impacted by the numerous operations on her jaw which left her looking different than the individuals surrounding her. In the memoir Autobiography of a Face, Grealy places a great emphasis on the significance of physical appearance in society. An argument central to the memoir is that society values what is seen as pretty or aesthetically pleasing rather than aspects that aren't necessarily physical. As a young woman who does not fit society's definition of beautiful, Lucy Grealy is faced with great adversity and struggles to see herself as normal. The idea that society values aesthetic beauty is supported by the way others treat Lucy Grealy, the actions Lucy Grealy takes to change her appearance, and by Lucy Grealy's inner thoughts and emotions throughout the memoir. .
             Lucy Grealy illustrates a distinct difference in the way she is treated by others compared to how one who is perceived as normal is treated. Throughout her childhood she notices that both adults and children come across as uncomfortable when they take note of her appearance. These actions of the individuals that Lucy Grealy meets validate the idea that citizens of modern day society value aesthetic beauty over intrapersonal beauty by showing that she is treated negatively solely due to her outward appearance. Children tend to be more blatantly cruel to her than adults. In many instances a child will outright mock her or ask her personal questions about her physical form. For example, on page 118 a group of boys in her sixth grade class says, "Hey, girl, take off that monster mask – oops, she's not wearing a mask!" Other forms of cruelty include knocking her hat off and calling her Baldy at the expense of her hair loss due to chemotherapy, calling her ugly, and asking, "what's wrong with her face?," implying that the imperfections left from operations were not fit to be considered right.

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