You no longer have the chance to stand on line to see the "Body Works" exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science...but some people never had to.
There are six people in the Houston area who got to skip the line - the donors. (Anyone who has legally agreed to donate their body to the exhibit is given an all-access pass they can take to any "Body Worlds" show in the world and immediately be allowed in, no waiting, no lines.)
Among the Houstonians who have are on the donor list is 36-year-old Tonia Miller, who says it isn't vanity or notoriety that prompted her into donating her body to the exhibit.
"I had never wanted a traditional burial. I thought that was kinda a waste," she tells Hair Balls. "I didn't know what I wanted, but the thought of embalming and sticking me in the ground like a biohazard just didn't make sense. Donating my body would [mean] that I wouldn't be rotting under the ground somewhere. And it would also be a way to do something useful with me."
Miller says at the end of the first "Body Worlds" exhibit she ever saw ("It was scary and disgusting but so beautiful at the same time."), she noticed a hand-out discussing possible donations.
She picked one up and after srudying it and the mound of information the Body Worlds organization sent over, she decided to become a part of the "Body Worlds" family. Literally.
She doesn't have any preferences about the way in which her body will be used by "Body Worlds."
"You might not be a whole body, it might just be your arm or your brain," she explains. "But I really have no problem with anything they want to do." Miller says she knows that others might not understand her choice to donate her body to the exhibit, although she points out that she's also an organ donor and few people have any objection to that.
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If the religious beliefs of others prevent them from considering a Body Worlds donation, Miller has no such qualms. "I don't have a take on holy and god and all that, so I can't get to that aspect of it," she says mater-of-factly. "Besides, you can revoke your donation, so if I become born-again and join some religion where God needs my whole body in heaven, then I can change my mind."
And what about people who say "Body Worlds" is made up of vain people who have taken exhibitionism to a never-before-seen level?
"One of the things that I like is that they don't have your name on your exhibit, so it doesn't make you, as an individual, the focus. It's all of us, the human race, as the focus," she says. "I can understand if someone else doesn't want to do this, but I think this works for me."
-- Olivia Flores Alvarez