2016: My Leap Year!
I was raised in Gary, Indiana -- the birthplace of Michael Jackson. So Michael’s life story, one of controversy and creativity, has intimately shaped my identity and purpose as a plastic surgeon. I’ve often said that my calling was to ensure that there were “no more Michael Jacksons,” that is, individuals who ended up scarred or disfigured from elective facial cosmetic surgery. For the first decade of my professional career, I worked diligently and passionately towards that humanistic goal by cultivating my artistic and technical expertise in cosmetic surgery, sharing knowledge through presentations at national and international meetings, and writing scholarly articles on the subject of ethnic plastic surgery. As I was growing a very successful practice and becoming a well-respected surgeon, Michael Jackson tragically died on June 25, 2009, thereby complicating my mantra of “no more Michael Jacksons” . . . sadly because Michael was no more. His untimely death forced me to think deeply about the notion of “well-being disfigurement”, which I think of as invisible identity scarring that distorts health. Michael’s life performance had been a dangerous dance (which he ultimately failed to master) of misaligned beauty, health, and identity. The critical issue is that when poor health (mental or physical) takes center stage, it is often a show stopper.
Michael’s well-being disfigurement was extreme, but unfortunately not rare. Many others suffer from the same misalignment. In the seven years since Michael’s premature death, my practice focus has dramatically shifted towards creating a healing atmosphere that aligns beauty, health, and identity. Last year, I successfully piloted a series of engaging self-discovery experiences as a part of our growing Artisan of Self (AOS) wellness program including an Intro to Genealogy workshop with board certified genealogist, LaBrenda Garret-Nelson and a Collage Portrait Identity workshop with mixed media artist, Ellington Robinson. It has been a slow uphill march against the cosmetic status quo as I migrate to a more holistic practice consciousness that is life-enhancing for my patients and me. Poor health has an especially profound effect on the overall well-being of disparate groups across the globe. The world in which we live is changing at a disorienting rapid pace with violence becoming increasingly commonplace. Whether it’s a heart attack, terrorist attack or police attack; the end result is the same – folks are dying too soon.
The time is ripe to RETHINK HEALTH. There is a growing need for culturally tailored forms of healthcare to respond more effectively to the complexities of our modern life. I have long been enamored with the utopian ideals of Modernism and the idea of activating art + design for social transformation. I believe that there is an exciting opportunity to spark a Health and Well-Being Revolution – ushered in through a beauty doorway. It’s 2016 and I’m ready to leap ALL IN.
Get ready for a Big Splash,
PS – Here are some photos of our Artisan of Self workshops held at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center. I want to thank Insana Collins, our photography superstar who always graciously responds when called... often at the last minute to capture the spirit of these well-being experiences in photographs.