Title Page -> Arms -> Fingernails -> Eyebrows -> Tail
“My Body – a wunderkammer” brings a reader on an experience unlike anything physical literature could produce. Jackson created an adventure through the experiences of her body while growing up with the power of web pages and hyperlinks. Jackson tells a story through each individual part of the body which includes hyperlinks to other parts of the body. This leads the reader on a never ending adventure throughout the whole body that could never be the same read for two people. Jackson analyzes her body noticing the frightening imperfections that occur during development that reveal harsh differences between the bodies of others. Acceptance of such imperfections lead to confidence in one’s own self.
Upon entering the website, I was initially perplexed by the breathing that plays at the beginning. With slight horror and curiosity I moved to click on a random picture which led me to the “arms” page. This page begins to describe a masculine child’s body that is evidently about a female. This individual saw herself as a monster or a freak simply because of the fact that she was more physically adept than all the other females in the grade. Jackson says “I looked at the other girls’ arms and knew I was a different animal”. This indicates the feeling of insecurity that pubescent girls often feel. The image drawn directly next to the text resembles the muscular body that Jackson has due to much climbing, swinging, and sawing wood as stated in the text. This muscular body can easily be seen as a male’s body as men tend to have more prominent muscles. She lives a more masculine life than the boys in her class and they approach her like “a sports hero”. Jackson immediately feels separated from the norm as she notices how different of a being she is. Eventually this feeling of insecurity develops into a feeling of pride as she looks down upon the other females who are seen as physically sufficient after doing one chin-up. This is seen through her confident use of the phrase “My arms are an anatomist’s fantasy, muscle and bone in a thin sheath of skin”. Her differences brings her power as she feels strength over the others in her grade. This statement is rather strong and intriguing bringing curiosity to what could be behind the hyperlink “I looked at the other girls’ arms and knew I was a different animal” which brings the reader to the fingernails page.
To continue the journey through “My Body” the reader does not know where they are headed due to the ambiguity of the included hyperlinks. The connection between hyperlinks can bring much confusion as there is little indication of what introduces the next body part resulting in a need for conscious thought about the reasoning behind the change. Upon further reading into the page Jackson makes a comparison between her fingernails and those of the other girls’ in her tumbling class, resulting in a further understanding of her unique life. Her desire to be different from the others only inspired her to explore her body. She acted strange around her friends by doing things such as playing with her fingernails. She says “More recherche were the fake fingernails I snipped for myself out of fruit leather at lunchtime and stuck on with spit, to my friends’ disgust. I privately thought they looked glamorous”. Jackson’s deviance from the norm and exploration of her body only encourages her confidence. She finds joy in the childish fascination of her body recognizing her differences and “glamorous confidence” which links to the next page: the eyebrow page.
Jackson’s eyebrows are something of disgust to others alike the rest of her body which only coerces Jackson to further explore her body . She was intrigued by her thick, dark brows that she would often be exaggerate with a pencil which left her with a near dirty look. This look is often seen as of a difference from the norm where cleanliness was a must for most. This however did not please Jackson as she says “I went to school smudged and interesting. When people commented on my eyebrows, I gave explanations, feigning exasperation at the inefficacy of soap”. Jackson would often not enjoy the cleanliness of a body as she found it fascinating to be different and smudged. It is often seen as a masculine characteristic to be smudged with dirt after working more manual labor intensive jobs that are seen as male dominated careers. Jackson herself gains confidence feeling different from the normal expectations of a female revealing her seemingly strange acceptance of her body. Curiosity of her own body leaves her with much more time to explore everything it has to offer. Jackson mentions one of her experiences in which she states “In Spanish in the seventh grade, I taught myself to raise my left eyebrow”. This quote reveals her curiosity with all body parts and includes a hyperlink to a hypothetical body part, her tail.
The tail represents the pinnacle of separation from the norm physically which develops confidence sexually for Jackson. Finding the tail hyperlink in itself is something of a challenge as it is not accessible from the beginning title page, which symbolizes her nature the hide her tail from others out of fear for her own confidence. The tail is a non-existent feature of Jackson’s body that she discovers at a young age. Physically it could be possible that Jackson was born with a small tail, but nowhere near the extent that she expresses. As she develops, her interest and secrecy about her tail connects her to her sexuality more than anything else. Early on in schooling her tail was something that could never be shown off out of pure terror of the reactions others would have of her. This caused her to punish her tail by “[sitting] on it, [hanging] weights from it, [clamping] clothespins on it”. After nearly destroying her tail out of lack of confidence in it she began to grow a small affection towards it post high school. College leads her to a development of more sexual characteristics that derive from appreciation for her tail. An experience with another female led to a true understanding about herself sexually. Jackson wrote “She plunged her arm under me, closed her fist firmly around my tail, rolled me onto my side, my back to her. Then she guided me inside her. I lay there staring perplexedly at the wall while she panted and strained behind me, sketching out a new world for me”. This experience reveals a very intimate scene with another female that Jackson had in college. This reveals her finally stepping outside of the boundary bound by her tail and lack of sexual discovery. This is Jackson’s final step at accepting who she is physically and sexually as a person.
Through Jackson’s analysis of her own imperfections it leads the reader own a journey reflecting upon their own development. She brings up many strange experiences of not fitting in with the norm. The realization that not following the norm made her more confident in her own differences. Jackson’s experience of her development mentally and physically can leave the reader with a feeling of confidence in their own personal differences as they can compare this coming of age story to their own lives.