Hiding Your True Self: Papier-Mâché People

papier mache | Dianna Bonny Photography

In elementary school I had a groovy fifth grade teacher. She was incredibly kind and stood out in her flowing flowery tops, head-bands and long, curly hair. There weren’t a lot of cool wardrobe options going on in 1973 (I would argue that fashion completely bypassed this decade), so she was a breath of fresh air.

Our classroom was an ongoing art project, as she believed in all possible outlets of creative expression. One of my favorite projects was papier-mâché, because I was hopeless at anything to do with drawing.

Craft stores had not hit the scene, so it was up to us to innovate with paper towel and toilet paper tubes, clothes pins, balloons, newspaper and popsicle sticks. I made an elephant. Just before I blew up the balloon for the body, she had me write something positive about myself on a small piece of paper, roll it up and stick it inside. The message was to remain my secret, forever entombed in the hardened shell of the paper crafted elephant.

I’d like to say that my eleven-year-old self wrote something incredibly enlightened like, “I am a being full of love and boundless potential,” but, rather disappointingly, I think it said, “I am nice.” The idea of stowing a message away is cute, and illustrates a rather interesting point.

The poet Robert Bly writes, “The drama is this. We came as infants ‘trailing clouds of glory,’ arriving from the farthest reaches of the universe, bringing with us appetites well preserved from our mammal inheritance, spontaneities wonderfully preserved from our 150,000 years of tree life, angers well preserved from our 5,000 years of tribal life – in short, with our 360-degree radiance.”

Isn’t it true that we then take this gorgeous 360-degree radiance and, like a papier-mâché project, begin pasting over ourselves and covering the parts we interpret as unacceptable?

We meet our parents and their expectations, hopes and fears. We meet our peers and their judgment. And we encounter society and its rules.

Little by little, gluey strip by gluey strip, we begin to hide the radiant essence that is our light.

We mask our creativity.

Conceal our passion.

Bury our true love.

Silence our voice.

Cloak our heart.

Downplay our intellect.

Hide our talent.

By the time we are full-fledged adults, we have a carefully crafted exterior, but our true radiance is hidden beneath. At least it seems this way to me.

What about you: have you entombed your beauty within a papier-mâché sarcophagus? Would it be possible to pierce the shell and allow your 360-degree radiance to billow outward and light your way?

With love,


Who is Dianna Bonny?

Hi, my name is Dianna Bonny. It’s my mission to candidly share my journey with you. For me, it’s all about the healing: to create a radiant healing energy for others who have befallen a similar fate. Together, we can forge beautiful lives of belonging and connection. Thanks for joining me today! I look forward to hearing from you.

  4 comments for “Hiding Your True Self: Papier-Mâché People

  1. October 30, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    That is a big leap! Going from “I am nice.” to “I am 360 degrees radiant.” Love this post! Thank you.


    • Dianna Bonny
      October 30, 2013 at 8:40 pm

      Yes, it only took me forty years or so! xoxo

  2. October 31, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Love your post as usual!! I just posted a poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer on my blog today ~ makes me think of the synchronicity! Blessings ~ Toni

    • Dianna Bonny
      October 31, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      Thank you Toni! I love The Invitation and have not seen it for a long while so many thanks for bringing back into my awareness. So glad to have you here. xo

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