Volume 11, Issue 1, Summer 2004
Feminist Apporoaches to the Body
Laura Duhan Kaplan
Disfigured Bodies and Social Identity
Ancient and Modern Reintegration Rituals
Beginning with a narrative about social reactions to my own temporary disfigurement, I note that an individual’s disfigurement can affect others by making them feel unsettled and unsafe. The contemporary approach to disfigurement, exemplified in the practice of cosmetic surgery, focuses on changing the disfigured individual. In contrast, ancient priestly rituals in Israelite culture focus on reintegrating the individual into the community. I compare and contrast the two approaches, noting the value of reintegration rituals, but also recognizing their insufficiency in several contemporary situations.