GIMME SOME SKIN
fresh of the press
Dive Skin Deep into the human world and get ensnared by impressions, prejudice, bacteria and blemishes. Dive in with pleasure, as that same whole-body surface, your largest organ, offers boundless beauty. In the animal world, we not only admire skins of diverse species, we fetishize, commodify and wear them. Different dimensions of appropriation also occur in our own species. Yet whereas we cast as taboo the cursed who would be compelled to wear another human, in the wild we prize hides and prey. How wise1 we are. We industriously see skins of wild animals savagely mechanized into retail2: A handbag. Car interiors. Rare sneakers. Shitty sneakers. Alligator skin jacket. Python loafers. Coveted texture. Precious resource. Over millennia, we’ve been dragging along our ubiquity of leather goods. Holding up our pants with long strips of some skin and a buckle, serving to protect or assault the human skin beneath. The cliché of an upset and scared adult, removes a belt to beat a boy’s bottom; tender, sanguine flesh cracked by tough leather turned accessory, turned weapon, turned accessory to discipline. Turned worse: An outline for hate, messily colored in. The lovely personalized feature of one’s skin color connects to the universally shared human trait of having skin, specified to individual genetic inheritance, ancestral origins and exposure to the sun. But also: skin turned sad excuse for race, accompanied by its helicopter parent, racism3. Skin tone brutally used as an erroneous metric for categorization, then corruption and its violent terror. May we heal from this most malignant disease and live up to our species’ name4, not slog along by the skin of our teeth.
Skin as manifold exterior. Skin as signifier. Skin as identifier. Skin as protector and delicate receptor for vitamin D. The surface is deep, evidenced by the 32 million bacteria occupying each square inch of your arm5. Altogether that’s, well, don’t worry about the total number on your body. It’s gross. Or rad. Especially considering these bacteria span 1000 different species. So much life everywhere. On us. Inescapable. Our skin like the taught sails of a mighty ship with uncountable microbial stowaways hitching a ride to their next destination. Or the wildest party you’re constantly hosting. We are not alone. Skin’s a remarkable material. Waterproof. Highly stretchable. Utilitarian. A barrier. Armor. Tough. Resilient. Also vulnerable. Skin softened as flesh. And even more fragile: A baby girl with a rare disease making her skin as delicate as butterfly wings. Skin provides the most necessary shelter to our physical experience in the world. Skin changes through that experience. Scarred with stories of intense friction and sagged by lifelong exposure to gravity.
Skin keeps us together. And the most together two people can get may be refered to as hittin’ skins. Skin is nasty, extraordinary, powerful, flabby, necessary. We all got skin in the game.