The Body Worlds exhibit is absolutely amazing. There are different exhibits featuring different models, but they all have something in common: they teach you about yourself, under the skin. Heather and I just went to the BODY WORLDS Vital exhibit in Boston with our friends Steve and Gary, and it was incredible. The exhibits themselves are gorgeous, not in spite of but because of the way they expose the human body. If you get the chance to see a BODY WORLDS exhibit in your area, I urge you to go. There are so many amazing things about it – these are just the ones I took away from the experience.
1 Beauty beneath Bones
The human body is a miracle, and showing that is probably the main purpose of every BODY WORLDS exhibit. In BODY WORLDS Vital, you learn about the seemingly mundane aspects of the body – the skeletal system, your muscles, your nerves, your circulatory system – but you also learn that those things are in no way mundane. There's unbelievable beauty hiding not just beneath your skin but beneath your bones as well, even beneath your muscles and tendons.
2 Your Body Really is a Wonderland
In fact, although I hate to quote John Mayer, your body is a wonderland. If you've ever doubted that, this exhibit will change your mind. I don't care what you look like, how tall you are, or what you weigh. You are a walking, talking, breathing miracle, and you should carry that with you each day. Having seen examples of what I look like from the inside out, I feel beautiful simply because of everything I'm hiding under there.
3 Smoking is Truly Bad for You
No lie, right? Let me explain. As I write this, I've been smoke free for over two months – since January 1. Quitting cigarettes is hard, even though you know it's bad for you. That being said, since seeing up close what a smoker's lung looks like, and since seeing the plastination of its inside and outside, I'm not even having any cravings anymore.
4 Sugar is Too
Ditto sugar. The BODY WORLDS exhibit goes deep. It doesn't just get to the meat of your health, it gets to the fat of it as well. Understand that I'm never going to be one of those girls who completely gives up sugar and you will never hear me saying that cheesecake is the devil. However, everyone could do with less, I think, and seeing what sugar does to your body, your blood vessels, your heart, and your belly will probably be enough to convince you to start reaching for fruit more often. I know I've been saving the cupcakes and candy bars for dire emergencies – like my period.
5 Your Veins Are Works of Art
Of all the displays exhibited, one of my favorites was a simple display of a hand – minus all its skin, showing just tangles and tributaries of all the veins in five little fingers. Your veinwork is stunning. This could have been displayed in museums. At first it looks like the messiest cluster of strings you've ever seen, but get closer and you can see every separate vein, trace where it goes, see where it overlaps with others – that's incredible.
6 It's Almost All Real
Nearly everything you see at a BODY WORLDS exhibit is real. The specimens on display come from real people, people who were extremely generous. There are certain items, such as fetus or organ displays, which aren't real, but practically everything you see is part of a real person. When you see some of the displays – at BW Vital, for instance, there's a stunning tableau of two acrobatic artists beautifully posed – this knowledge leaves you awed.
7 Plastination is Incredible
The plastinations are one of the best parts. This describes a process invented and designed by Dr. Gunther von Hagens, and it's an inventive, ingenious way to preserve bodily specimens. Simply put, all the fats and fluids in a real specimen are replaced with a special plastic fluid instead. The process allows you to see what certain organs, muscles, veins, and other specimens would look like in your body.
8 Body Donation is the Ultimate Kindness
In the interest of both the real aspect of the displays and the very idea of plastination, this exhibit taught me to be so thankful for body donation. I think that organ donation is one of the most generous things a person can do, but donation of your body to science is a kindness in its own right. You're helping people to learn more about themselves and their bodies, and that's a priceless gift.
9 You Need Speakers
This one might not seem so important, but consider it a protip. If you visit the BODY WORLDS exhibit to learn, then you'll be glad you pay $5 for the speakers. You get so much more information when you listen to each mini-lecture. You don't have to listen to each one, but for the exhibits and plastinations that really intrigue you, you will want to know more.
The BODY WORLDS exhibit was an eye-opener – right down to the wide open eyes on display. So much work goes into creating each exhibit, and the work behind making both the displays and the cross-sections of organs and tissues and bones is just … it's a little awe-inspiring, to be honest. Have you ever attended an exhibit? Do you think you might like to?