Most people (or at least most U.S. readers) can probably recognize the cover of Twilight, the first book in Stephenie Meyer’s runaway success vampire series.
I have to say I never gave the cover a second thought, until I saw this article. It turns out that Kimbra Hickey was the hand model for the book, and she’s feeling underappreciated.
Hickey now stops anyone she sees reading the book to inform them of her contribution.
“I see people reading it on the subway, and I say, ‘Those are my hands! I’m a hand model!’ ” she explained. “I’m sure they think I’m crazy — a crazy lady on the subway.”
I took a little while (and some conversation with Laurie) to sort out how I feel about this. On the one hand (as it were!), if she stopped me on the subway I might have a little of that “crazy lady” reaction. Everybody wants to be famous for 15 minutes, right? On the other hand, she was chosen out of a wide variety of hand models and those are her hands. As Laurie said, no one would think she was crazy if her face was on the cover and she wanted recognition.
We are our bodies. Because most of us come from Western/Greek/Christian traditions that work tirelessly to separate the mind/personality/self from the body, that can be hard to grasp and remember. Speaking for myself, I feel both possessive and protective of my body. I like feeling proud of it. I sometimes feel like it’s my “fault” when my body doesn’t work the way I or other people expect it to. And if my hands were part of the unpredictable, imponderable combination of factors that made a book into a best-seller, I would feel proud and proprietary. I would want people to know.
It’s so alien to think of giving real credit to hand (or foot or torso or butt) models — sometimes they get a line mentioning their name somewhere, but that’s the maximum I’ve ever seen. But when I stop to think for a second, there’s absolutely no reason that they couldn’t have put a little inset picture of Hickey’s face somewhere on the jacket flap or the back cover, just to acknowledge that they selected those hands, and the hands are attached to a real person. It’s just another small way that we disembody people (usually women).
She’s not crazy at all. She’s just asking for an acknowledgment of the truth–she is her hands and her hands are her. So if her hands are famous, why shouldn’t she get some of the limelight?
Thanks to Alan Bostick for the pointer.