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Super Skin

Super Skin People have always fantasized about the limits of human potential. Myths, legends, and folktales of people with superhuman abilities are spread across many cultures present over countless centuries. “Superheroes” are evident in countless works of art, including sculptures, paintings, music, video games, movies, and literature. Superheroes appeal to us on a very deep level, with many of their stories and abilities portraying or embodying an extreme of a normal human quality. This Notable Note is devoted to a few examples of fictional superhuman skin and why they might resonate with us on a personal level. The famous Kryptonian, Superman, has near-impenetrable skin that is invulnerable to all conventional attacks. The key to his powers lies in his alien heritage as well as exposure to the light of our Sun.1 His abilities are perhaps reflective of our human desire to transcend our own limitations. Behind Superman’s character lies the reason why we celebrate others who accomplish incredible feats. Whether it is climbing the tallest mountain, being the fastest man on Earth, or producing a beautiful work of art, people revel in being able to supersede and break boundaries. The Thing, a member of the Fantastic Four, developed rock-like skin after being exposed to cosmic rays. With his extraordinary hide, he is resistant to physical harm. What makes his character appealing is the drawback of his condition. His inability to revert back to a human form makes living a normal life problematic. The stigma of his skin is not unlike what a person with psoriasis or severe acne can experience. In the Thing lies the human experience of being judged and even persecuted based on our appearance. The Hulk is particularly famous for his green skin. What makes his skin and abilities different from others is that it is directly dependent on his emotional state, particularly his anger.2 When we get embarrassed our faces may blush, but when the Hulk gets angry, destruction ensues. Wearing your heart on your sleeve takes on a new and very literal meaning with the Hulk. Whether it is microorganisms or a punch from the Hulk, the skin plays a vital role in protection by serving as a continuous interface between people and the environment. Adaptation over the span of human existence has allowed our skin to develop remarkable structural and biochemical capabilities that are used to guard and support the life that it encloses. Superheroes can leap buildings in a single bound, defeat monsters, and save Earth from aliens, but their core and construction is of human design. Their skin portrays both the extraordinary capabilities that we possess as well as the struggles we may face. Back to top Article Information Corresponding author: Jorge Roman, BS, 301 University Blvd, Galveston, TX 77555 (joroman@utmb.edu). References 1. Lundegaard E. Sex and the Superman. Today.com. 2006. http://www.today.com/id/13556951#.vn96ouiynnu. Accessed December 26, 2015. 2. Pak G, Pagulayan C, Huet J. Warbound, Part IV. The Incredible Hulk. 2007;3(109). http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png JAMA Dermatology American Medical Association

Super Skin

Abstract

People have always fantasized about the limits of human potential. Myths, legends, and folktales of people with superhuman abilities are spread across many cultures present over countless centuries. “Superheroes” are evident in countless works of art, including sculptures, paintings, music, video games, movies, and literature. Superheroes appeal to us on a very deep level, with many of their stories and abilities portraying or embodying an extreme of a normal human quality. This...
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Publisher
American Medical Association
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.
ISSN
2168-6068
eISSN
2168-6084
DOI
10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.6355
pmid
27829109
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

People have always fantasized about the limits of human potential. Myths, legends, and folktales of people with superhuman abilities are spread across many cultures present over countless centuries. “Superheroes” are evident in countless works of art, including sculptures, paintings, music, video games, movies, and literature. Superheroes appeal to us on a very deep level, with many of their stories and abilities portraying or embodying an extreme of a normal human quality. This Notable Note is devoted to a few examples of fictional superhuman skin and why they might resonate with us on a personal level. The famous Kryptonian, Superman, has near-impenetrable skin that is invulnerable to all conventional attacks. The key to his powers lies in his alien heritage as well as exposure to the light of our Sun.1 His abilities are perhaps reflective of our human desire to transcend our own limitations. Behind Superman’s character lies the reason why we celebrate others who accomplish incredible feats. Whether it is climbing the tallest mountain, being the fastest man on Earth, or producing a beautiful work of art, people revel in being able to supersede and break boundaries. The Thing, a member of the Fantastic Four, developed rock-like skin after being exposed to cosmic rays. With his extraordinary hide, he is resistant to physical harm. What makes his character appealing is the drawback of his condition. His inability to revert back to a human form makes living a normal life problematic. The stigma of his skin is not unlike what a person with psoriasis or severe acne can experience. In the Thing lies the human experience of being judged and even persecuted based on our appearance. The Hulk is particularly famous for his green skin. What makes his skin and abilities different from others is that it is directly dependent on his emotional state, particularly his anger.2 When we get embarrassed our faces may blush, but when the Hulk gets angry, destruction ensues. Wearing your heart on your sleeve takes on a new and very literal meaning with the Hulk. Whether it is microorganisms or a punch from the Hulk, the skin plays a vital role in protection by serving as a continuous interface between people and the environment. Adaptation over the span of human existence has allowed our skin to develop remarkable structural and biochemical capabilities that are used to guard and support the life that it encloses. Superheroes can leap buildings in a single bound, defeat monsters, and save Earth from aliens, but their core and construction is of human design. Their skin portrays both the extraordinary capabilities that we possess as well as the struggles we may face. Back to top Article Information Corresponding author: Jorge Roman, BS, 301 University Blvd, Galveston, TX 77555 (joroman@utmb.edu). References 1. Lundegaard E. Sex and the Superman. Today.com. 2006. http://www.today.com/id/13556951#.vn96ouiynnu. Accessed December 26, 2015. 2. Pak G, Pagulayan C, Huet J. Warbound, Part IV. The Incredible Hulk. 2007;3(109).

Journal

JAMA DermatologyAmerican Medical Association

Published: Nov 1, 2016

References

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