Nodular leprosy with leonine facies. The acromegalic and hyperkeratosistic. The enuretic, this year of all years. The spasmodically torticollic.

Those with saddle noses. Those with atrophic limbs. And yes chemists and pure-math majors. Also those with atrophic necks. Scleredema adultorum. Them that seep, the serodermatotic. Come one come all. The hydrocephalic. The tabescent and chachetic and anorexic. The Brag's-Diseased, in their heavy red rinds of flesh. The dermally wine-stained or carbuncular or steatocryptotic or God forbid all three. Marin-Amat Syndrome, you say? Come on down. The psoriatic. The exzematically shunned. And the scrofulodermic. Bell-shaped steatopygiacs, in your special slacks. Afflictees of Pityriasis Rosea. Come all ye hateful. Blessed are the poor in body, for they...

The leukodermatic. The xanthodantic. The maxillofacially swollen. Those with distorted orbits of all kinds. Get out from under the sun's cove-lighting. Come in from the spectral rain. The basilisk-breathed and pyorrheic. All ye peronic or teratoidal. The phrenologically malformed. The suppuratively lesioned. The endocrinologically malodorous of whatever ilk. Run don't walk on down. The acervulus-nosed. The radically -ectomied. The morbidly diaphoretic with a hankie in every pocket. The chronically granulomatous. The ones the cruel call Two-Baggers-- one bag for your head, one bag for the observer's head in case your bag falls off. The hated and dateless and shunned, who keep to the shadows. Those who undress only in front of their pets. The quote aesthetically challenged. Leave your lazarettes and oubliettes, your closets and cellars and TP Tableaux, find Nurturing and Support and the Inner Resources to face your own unblinking sight. Hugs not Ughs. Come don the veil of the type and token. Come learn to love what's hidden inside. To hold and cherish. The almost unbelievably thick-ankled. The kyphotic and lordotic. The irremediably cellulitic. Progress Not Perfection. Never Perfection. The fatally pulchritudinous: Welcome. The Actaeonizing, side by side with the Medusoid. The papuled, the macular, the albinic. Medusas and odalisques both: Come find common ground. All meeting rooms windowless.

Nor are excluded the utterly noseless, nor the hideously wall- and cross-eyed, nor either the ergotic of St. Anthony, the leprous, the varicelliformally eruptive or even the sarcoma'd of Kaposi...

The multiple amputee. The prosthetically malmatched. The snaggle-toothed, wattled, weak-chinned, and walrus-cheeked. The palate-clefted. The really large-pored. The excessively but not necessarily lycanthropically hirsute. The pin-headed. The convulsively Tourettic. The Parkinsonianly tremulous. The stunted and gnarled. The teratoid of overall visage. The twisted and hunched and humped and halitotic. The in any way asymmetrical. The rodential- and saurian- and equine-looking...

The tri-nostrilled. The invaginate of mouth and eye. Those with those dark loose bags under their eyes that hang halfway down their faces. Those with Cushing's Disease. Those who look like they have Down Syndrome even though they don't have Down Syndrome. You decide. You be the judge. You are welcome regardless of severity. Severity is in the eye of the sufferer. Pain is pain. Crow's feet. Birthmark. Rhinoplasty that didn't take. Mole. Overbite. A bad hair year.

The Union of the Hideously and Improbably Deformed was unofficially founded in London in B.S. 1940 in London U.K. by the cross-eyed, palate-clefted, and wildly carbuncular wife of a junior member of the House of Commons, a lady whom Sir Winston Churchill, P.M.U.K., having had several glasses of port plus a toddy at a reception for an American Lend-Lease administrator, had addressed in a fashion wholly inappropriate to social intercourse between civilized gentlemen and ladies. Unwittingly all but authoring the Union designed to afford the scopophobic empathic fellowship and the genesis of sturdy inner resources through shame-free and unconstrained concealment, W. Churchill-- when the lady, no person's doormat, informed him with prim asperity that he appeared to be woefully inebriated-- made the anecdotally famous reply that while, yes, yea verily, he was indeed inebriated, he would the following A.M. be once again sober, while she, dear lady, would tomorrow still be hideously and improbably deformed.

Churchill, doubtless under weighty emotional pressures during this period in history, had then proceeded to extinguish his cigar in the lady's sherry and to place a finger-bowl napkin delicately over the ruined features of her flaming visage. The laminated non-photo U.H.I.D. membership card Joelle showed the interested old black gentleman related all this data and more in a point-size so tiny the card looked somehow both blank and defaced.

There's a brief ceremony. It's a bit like giving out chips over at the Better Late Than Never meeting, for Varying Lengths. The new U.H.I.D.s stand and receive the veil and don the veil and stand there and recite that the veil they've donned is a Type and a Symbol, and that they are choosing freely to be bound to wear it always-- a day at a time-- both in light and darkness, both in solitude and before others' gaze, and as with strangers so with familiar friends, even Daddies. That no mortal eye will see it withdrawn. That they hereby declare openly that they wish to hide from all sight. Unquote.'

What people don't get about being hideously or improbably deformed is that the urge to hide is offset by a gigantic sense of shame about your urge to hide. You're at a graduate wine-tasting party and improbably deformed and you're the object of stares that the people try to conceal because they're ashamed of wanting to stare, and you want nothing more than to hide from the covert stares, to erase your difference, to crawl under the tablecloth or put your face under your arm, or you pray for a power failure and for this kind of utter liberating equalizing darkness to descend so you can be reduced to nothing but a voice among other voices, invisible, equal, no different, hidden. But you're still a human being, you still want to live, you crave connection and society, you know intellectually that you're no less worthy of connection and society than anyone else simply because of how you appear, you know that hiding yourself away out of fear of gazes is really giving in to a shame that is not required and that will keep you from the kind of life you deserve as much as the next girl, you know that you can't help how you look but that you are supposed to be able to help how much you care about how you look. You're supposed to be strong enough to exert some control over how much you want to hide, and you're so desperate to feel some kind of control that you settle for the appearance of control.

What you do is you hide your deep need to hide, and you do this out of the need to appear to other people as if you have the strength not to care how you appear to others. You stick your hideous face right in there into the wine-tasting crowd's visual meatgrinder, you smile so wide it hurts and put out your hand and are extra gregarious and outgoing and exert yourself to appear totally unaware of the facial struggles of people who are trying not to wince or stare or give away the fact that they can see that you're hideously, improbably deformed. You feign acceptance of your deformity. You take your desire to hide and conceal it under a mask of acceptance. In other words you hide your hiding. And you do this out of shame: you're ashamed of the fact that you want to hide from sight. You're ashamed of your uncontrolled craving for shadow. U.H.I.D.'s First Step is admission of powerlessness over the need to hide. U.H.I.D. allows members to be open about their essential need for concealment. In other words we don the veil. We don the veil and wear the veil proudly and stand very straight and walk briskly wherever we wish, veiled and hidden, and but now completely up-front and unashamed about the fact that how we appear to others affects us deeply, about the fact that we want to be shielded from all sight. U.H.I.D. supports us in our decision to hide openly.


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The Union of the Hideously and Improbably Deformed

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