Where Do The “Bodies” Come From- And Should We Even Care?
You’ve probably heard about the “Bodies” exhibits making their way around the world, including a stop in Seattle.
Two shows; “Bodies, the Exhibition”, and “Body Worlds”, its competitor, are known for taking human bodies and putting them on display for anyone willing to pay the price of admission.
The bodies go through a complicated process of being skinned, meticulously dissected and finally plasticized through a series of chemical baths which dehydrates and hardens the bodies into various poses.
The directors of these shows say they are educational.
But here is one question many want an answer to: where do the bodies come from?
“Body Worlds” says it gets bodies from people who consent to donate them before death.
“Bodies, the Exhibition” is another story. The bodies featured are from China. Those familiar with tradition say the Chinese would never consent to their loved one’s body being treated this way. So where in China do they come from?
The owners of the Exhibition swear the bodies are unclaimed, and come from a Chinese medical school. The medical school says it has never and would never donate bodies for this kind of use.
Many suspect the bodies are actually executed Chinese prisoners, who, once arrested, are never seen by their families again, and certainly never properly laid to rest should they die or be executed in prison. They’re simply gone.
The company that owns “Bodies”, Premier Exhibitions, has relented in the past, and put up disclaimers at their shows, letting ticket-holders know they cannot determine where the bodies came from or if individual consent for their use was ever given. Seems like that would put a dent in things, but no- their profits continue to rise. Premier Exhibitions doesn’t seem the least bit concerned about who these people were, or even if they were murdered.
The first time I ever questioned the origin of these bodies was last year. A friend of mine who went to the exhibit emailed me a picture of one of the bodies that left me stunned. It was that of a woman, probably in her late twenties or early thirties. As my eyes scanned over her body, I saw why my friend had sent the picture.
There, tucked under the ribs of this unknown woman, was her nearly full term unborn baby. Who was she? How did she die? Did she want her and her baby to be seen this way? I was horrified.
The New York Times, 20/20 Investigates, The Washington Post and other news organizations have sent reporters to China. Each has come back with disturbing claims of an underground market in dead bodies for these exhibits.
There is no paperwork, no checks and balances, just bodies exchanged for cash, then processed and ultimately shown in these exhibits.
The potential for abuse is shocking. But the show- at least for now- goes on.
Some say, regardless of where the bodies come from, it’s unacceptable to treat a human body in this way and the shows should be banned in the US.
Others say ‘quit trippin,’ it’s educational.
You may not care where these bodies come from. But what if the bodies were coming from America, with unknown identities via questionable means?
We would never stand for it.