Saturday, March 21, 2009

I Want to Die Beautiful

Where did we get this idea that beauty somehow links us to immortality? Do we believe we will be more fondly remembered as a result of beauty? Cancer patient Lisa Connell wants to spend nearly $70,000 for cosmetic surgery that will make her look like Demi Moore. With only a few months to live, why subject oneself to painful surgery? It's the ultimate Vanitas in the face of death.

Perhaps it's out of a need to take control over a body that's gone horribly out of control. Perhaps it's a misguided belief that celebrity holds immortality, and by copying a celebrity, Lisa will become one herself. In any case, it's a fascinating story.

At first I was abhorred, but now I must admit I sort of support her goal. This is why: In our society we expect the dying to act with virtue. Maybe it's the hope that facing death will force us into a self-reckoning. This narrative of the "good death", where the dying impart words of wisdom, reassurance to the survivors, and embrace their destiny with dignity is an outdated and unfair myth. What a huge burden we impose on the dying.

So I say, go Lisa Connell! Do what you want with your body. It's your death. Don't listen to the hypocrites, especially Demi Moore.

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