Self-harm: A punchline for most.
The Big Bang Theory
Family Guy (repeatedly)
Sex and The City
Self-Harm is not all that funny. It’s not just a punchline, but also a reality.
Text from thesis:
Lyla Meritt* fastened on her custom-fitted cherry-colored nose. She chalked her ivory skin with a pallid, chunky make-up, and transformed her cheeks into circular scarlet patches of blush.
With grossly oversized, red, Ronald McDonald-esque shoes, once Meritt waddles through the doors of Boston Children’s Hospital, she is no longer Lyla.
She is Tutti Fruiti.
Tutti Fruiti is the uproarious and theatrical clown, sent to make severely burned children smile. Tutti Fruiti has not walked into a hospital in a few years, as she has taken time to receive a college education.
Meritt is 21-years-old and hails from Seymour, Connecticut. She studies Counseling and Human Services at a Jesuit university in Pennsylvania. Wherever she is, she is usually found laughing. And Meritt brings humor with her wherever she goes, sort of a contagious condition that she passes on to all around her.
Meritt, and the millions of others, who have self-injured have experienced vastly different provocations for self-harm as well as disparate setbacks and triumphs in their everyday lives. Interviews with psychologists, researchers, and those who have hurt themselves reveal that there is no specific prototype of a person who self-harms.
As someone who has experienced self-harm, Meritt is unusual only in that she agreed to discuss a habit that much of society finds repellent and perplexing. What prompts two million Americans, mostly young men and women, to slice into their own bodies, drawing blood and leaving tattletale scars? The phenomenon carries with it a certain perverse fascination. Those who harm themselves add a gore factor that seems irresistible to producers of contemporary drama. Self-harm stands right alongside mental health as a target for sharp-tongued humor.
Lyla Meritt will finish out the remainder of her senior year, she will probably be found laughing or discussing how she wants to “drop out of school to join the circus.”
Meritt is multi-faceted, and she is not a victim.
“I am not a victim of self-harm. I am a hero. I saved my own life surrounded by those who love me,” she said.
*Names have been changed