Most women in America are insecure about at least one aspect of their physical appearance. I am most insecure about a benign tumor on my lower back, although I am able to hide it with a loose shirt or fit-and-flare dress.
Marcia Meier had to grow up with half her face covered in scars, skin grafts, and even gaping holes.
After being run over at the age of five by a half-blind elderly man, Meier spent five weeks in a virtual cage in the hospital, often strapped down and blindfolded, so that her wounds and surgical incisions could heal. Parents weren’t allowed to stay overnight, so the child wailed on a daily basis as she watched or listened to her mother leave to go home.
Face details Meier’s life as a visibly disfigured child, being mocked and isolated by nuns and classmates alike at her Catholic elementary school. It continues with her emotional journey over the next sixty years of her life.
As you might imagine, Meier began to disassociate her inner self from her physical appearance. By grade school, she’d learned that her face repulsed others. And despite countless surgeries to restore the original shape and symmetry of her face, not one male in high school or college expressed romantic interest in Marcia. In fact, after meeting and becoming engaged to the first man to ask her out, a family friend revealed that no one ever expected to see her get married.
Twenty-four years later, after separating from her husband, she’s warned by her mother that she’ll never find another man to date. Understandably, it took Meier until she was in her fifties to begin embracing and valuing her entire self, scars and all.
Meier does a fantastic job detailing her physical and emotional struggles without ever coming across as self-pitying (far from it, in fact). Quite impressively, she began to unpack decades of repressed trauma, invalidated (yet completely valid) feelings, and emotional isolation in her fifties. After beginning to do so, she found herself in a new, loving relationship and started embracing her life more fully.
Face is an easy, interesting read and one I’d highly recommend to anyone who’s ever felt “less than.”