Below is my essay I performed for Write Club, arguing the merits of skin. If you have not been to this battle of the written brain, grab yourself by the scruff of the neck and drag yourself to the next one.
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Life is not cut and dry. As much as we like to think there are winners and losers here tonight, there aren’t. There are stories. Choices. Results of actions, that’s all. There’s so much gray in all of our “areas.” Only thing you could argue that IS cut and dry, black and white, is life and death. But even then, there is wiggle room. For instance, “Ghost Dad.” Explain that.
Tonight I am here to argue the merits of skin. Life is not black and white. Life is constantly hovering in all hues of the gray area. Life is skin. Metaphor much? Skin does not break, like bone. If there is a riff: it heals. If I knew how a starfish worked, I’d use another metaphor, but that fucker can grow back an arm and punch a fish in a face it wants to.
Skin tells our story through its lines, scars, lower back Taz tattoos. It is flexible. Adaptable. Malleable. Yes, I used a thesaurus.
Bones are frail. They break. Milk has to help bones be strong. Milk?! Man up, bones! We as humans are not meant to break.
We are meant to learn, change, grow. We pass on our stories in order to keep our legacy going. In this life we have but one chance to go to Disney World, maybe four if you don’t work in the non-profit sector. We are not here on this earth to break like bones. We are here to survive. We have opposable thumbs, dammit. We are strong, like an eagle in a hard hat. And our skin protects us.
We first had hair all over our body as apes that protected us from the elements, but then we started walking and running because, I don’t know. Pussy? I’m not a scientist. We had places to go, fire to make. And all that movement caused us to be too hot in our own skin. So what happened? We evolved, adapted, lost our hair, and start sweating to keep cool. Our naked skin then protected us from the elements. More pigmentation to shield us from the sun’s rays. When we moved to cooler climates, our skin lost that pigmentation. The skin adapts like we do. It’s like it has brains it’s so smart.
Skin is the largest organ. And wields a lot of power. Throughout history the length of a skirt caused controversy. Showing an ankle in the Victorian Era was the equivalent to an unrated “Blurred Lines” video. Sexual assumptions are made about women based on how much skin is or is not shown. Now, I am woman, hear me quote Katy Perry: Roar. I know I can get someone to sleep with my netherines if I show them any or all of my skin. The skin of my tit bags. The flap of my elder under arm. Not so if I showed them my kidney, or an exposed bone from a compound fracture.
So what do we do? We have this skin. It is the first line of sight. We are judged by it and we judge it ourselves. We use it as a canvas. Skin is our palette. We alter its appearance. We stretch it, we tattoo it, we dye it, we throw it over our shoulder like a continental shoulder and then just blame it on the 90s.
We get scars, we get wrinkles. Like rings on a tree except you don’t have to be severed in half to see them. Our skin serves as a reminder of who we are and what we’ve done, and what we are inheriting. These lines on my forehead? This is my father. This is my mother.
When I was in my twenties, I removed a skin tag from my own body, three inches away from my asshole. Some back-story–I was unsuccessfully attempting to sleep my way to a positive self-image with each partner that saw my skin. I drank. I fell. I skinned my knees. My skin would keep track of each bad decision for an entire week with every fading drunken, self-destructive bruise.
A skin tag looks like a tiny testicle that juts out from your epidermis. Size ranges. It’s normally harmless and benign, but can be unsightly–like if part of your insides were trying to escape like the eyes and nose of a squeezable Panic Pete doll.
I removed it myself because one, I’m an idiot, two, who wants a doctor to help you? How can a young lady make choices she will regret when a finger thumb is peaking out to cock block? I was showing my skin to a lot of people at the time and it was hindering my self-destructive mojo. I could do this. I didn’t want to risk this little nub stealing my thunder by giving these suitors its own nubby HJ right outside my backdoor.
I tied a rubber band around it. It was big enough for me to do that. I thought, what was the worst thing that could happen by suffocating a piece of flesh, with nerves and it’s own zip code, attached to your body? For several days I watched it lose its fleshy color and turn black. I shifted in my seat and felt a dull ache by my toot shoot, a reminder that I was killing something. Now. Don’t go home and Google skin tag. I’m not saying this was smart, I’m not encouraging you to lance anything you find unsightly on your body, I’m not saying I was comfortable having a young, handsome intern spread my cheeks to see the eraser-sized skin black crusty booger of death staring right back at him next to my winking asshole and then prescribe baby oil as a remedy. Don’t do it.
If life was black and white I would have died from my one stupid decision of taking my butt into my own hands. But I didn’t die, I didn’t break, I didn’t get an infection, I was lucky and didn’t get physically hurt from showing my skin to so many indifferent people. My heart mended and I learned I didn’t have to show my skin to love myself. I have a scars. Scars on my butt. And a story to tell you all.