Jul. 9th, 2010 01:34 am
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"They treat us like mannequins", I hear this as I squeeze past two wheel-chair-bound women. They nod sagely, looking up at me eye brows raised with that certain tilt of the head, meaning 'yeah, she's one of them. What an odd thing to say I think, and it haunts me for days. Why do they feel like that?

A mannequin according to wiki, is "(also called a mannekin, mannikin, manikin, dummy, or lay figure) is often an articulated doll used by artists, tailors, dressmakers, and others especially to display or fit clothing. Did these women feel like dolls? Did we simply dress them each day to our liking? No, that's not what they meant...or this one, "A mannequin is a life-sized model of the human figure, used especially in advertising and sales. That's closer I thought, life size model of a human being. Something we notice, obliquely but don't really give the time of day to.

A mannequin has no soul, nothing behind it's painted on eyes. A mannequin is mostly...ignored. That's what they mean. We ignore them, treat them like a mannequin, dress them, feed them, move them around the nursing home on our own whims. Go to PT, to OT, the dining room now. Go to the bathroom, sit down on the toilet, brush your teeth we order in bored voices. As they do our bidding our own eyes glaze over staring into the distance, thinking about what's for our own dinner, our own plans, what we will do when are no longer here at work.

The mannequins, are wheeled down the hall while we talk, not to them but to each other, they aren't real why would we talk to them? That would be crazy--talking to a mannequin. It must seem to them that we don't SEE them. Their very humanity is obscured by their age in our young eyes. We see gray hair, gray eyes, hear confused conversations, and forget this is NOT a mannequin. This is a real live person. Just like me--only old. Maybe even BETTER than me in some ways. Mannequins don't age, they are forever young, beautiful, skinny and beautifully dressed. They never, ever change. Not one tiny bit.

People on the other hand are tall, short, fat, old, young, skinny, smelly, funny or angry. They act horrible or very kind. The differences are easy to see. So why are two old ladies made to feel unreal? The mind that thought that profound complex idea is most definitely alive, soulful, spiritual, and worthy of so much more than a clean set of clothes that get hung on them tomorrow, and a meal of ground pizza.


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July 2010

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