Lisa Steele: Birthday Suit with Scars and Defects

The film Lisa Steele: Birthday Suit with Scars and Defects centers on Lisa Steele, who presents the several defects and scars that she acquired throughout her life until her 27th birthday. She presents her nude body or so-called “the birthday suit” with the intention of giving the viewers the sequence of events that led to the appearance of different scars that she possesses. She displays each scar with the description of corresponding events and time that the scar was received. The film focuses on various aspects of Lisa’s life, the appreciation that she bears regarding her life and its connection to her 27th birthday. In addition, it offers Lisa’s physical diary giving a twist to meanings of memory, nakedness and pain. The film invokes certain elements of performance that were new during the production of this video. These relate to the utilization of the body to deliver speeches to the viewers. The film also combines elements of narrative and visual language to offer technical sophistication and visual elegance.

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Objectives of the Film

Lisa achieves the film’s objective by touring the audience through a calm chronology of the body scars within her body. She cautiously places every body scar in an extremely close view with the camera followed by pauses, gentle strokes and speaking about its origin. She chronologically presents the scars from the childhood until they culminate within her adult body. The body scars are reinvented via memory of every event that led to each scar.

Lisa Steele film is an indication that during the period of its production, the bodily perception of touch and the sensation was gaining prominence in the iconography of emancipation or deliverance. She utilizes the body to convey the anticipated message. This is because she recognizes that the body was turning out as the novel organ that would effectively deliver speech. Moreover, this indicates that the body became the new performative instrument or tool that ensured continued existence, empowerment and communication.

Lisa’s film served as an identity statement and presents aspects of body art on the other level. She utilized narrative and visual language to deliver technical sophistication and visual elegance. In addition, Lisa takes advantage of the new performative elements to draw the audience with the help of the combination of body art and consciousness, which are extremely seductive. The film offers an imperative countering image of the growing criticism of the female body that transpired in the narrative cinema performances. The simplicity of Lisa’s film disproves the conceptual richness associated with it. The film presents the body as the foundation for the experienced events and the substantiation of actions. The film represented a ground-breaking contribution into problems associated with feminine authorship with regard to the audio-visual media. 

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The Story

Birthday Suit narrates Lisa’s story through a trace of the sequence of events from the scars and the marks that are evident on her body. The scars and defects are imparted through a sequence of childhood and domestic accidents that were happening throughout her life. Every scar is a representation of a memory that Lisa recaps for the viewers in an expressionless voice. The scars carry considerable memory with the last three scars contributing to the more and more dramatic narrative. The scar that is under the right breast emanates from the elimination of the benign tumor, which means that it is different from most other scars that resulted from accidents. The final defect also is entirely from a special order in relation to other scars, since she obtained the scar during the transformation into womanhood. The narrative is derived from fragments and offers powerful imagery that emanates from the selective details. The imagery provides the film with strong rhythmical or poetic voice, which delivers the piece as a unique form of performance. The performance maintains the camera position to be on the knee-level height.

The Commencement of the Film

The commencement of this film and its ending has similarities in that Lisa goes to the background and reveals her entire body to the viewers. The movement that Steele makes during the conclusion of the film produces a profundity of space, which contrasts with the facade of the tight close-up views that are evident during the larger part of the film. During the close-up views of the scars, Steele strokes the scarred skin steadily and repeatedly. She makes pauses in the narrative to make the viewers wait. She also puts emphasis through the present tense and allows viewers to experience the weight of the memories that she bears. Lisa also ensures that the viewers experience the weight of the passing time through the pauses in her speech. The friction and the sensation evoked by touch also notify the viewers concerning the surface planes generated by the image. The aspects of performance and narrative that Steele seeks to display or deliver are well developed within the film.

Although the film is considered to be a celebration set for Steele’s birthday, it also acts as the celebration of the encounter of the body and technology. They converge in the acceptance or adoption of the shared support and privilege. Steele presents the bare truth regarding her body through considerable struggles with the truth. Prior to the end of the film, Steele stands at the background, makes several turns, wears the T-shirt and jeans after which she leaves the background.

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Strategies in the Film

This depiction is a strategy employed to reassert Steele’s dominance of the whole film and its images. The film is considered to be gendered, since the bikini tan puts gender symbolism into Steele’s body. This is considered one of the demystification strategies exploited in the film. The demystification elements in the film indicate that the scars and the narratives alone do not complete the entire story. It holds that the demystifications bring out other elements of Steele’s story, which are not related to her pain, which was experienced throughout her life up to the 27th birthday.

A certain form of conviction lingers in the images presented in the film. The visible evidence of the film is substituted by the imaginative procedure of fabrication and the premeditated utilization of the channel as a device for persuasion. Steele installs the key technique of performance that focuses on the communication of authenticity. The elements of authenticity that are evident in the film are eroded slowly under the stratum of representation. 

The performance of this film evokes sympathy through the exploitation of the physical trace of the scars. Firstly, she creates curiosity for the viewers through narration and evokes sympathy with the help of the scars presentation in a close-up view. Secondly, the presentation of the sequence of misfortunes, accidents and surgeries, move the viewers from the sympathetic stage into astonishment about the unfortunate flow of events in Steele’s life. Nevertheless, Steele paradoxically converts the scars and defects into personified reminders of the experiences, recollection and time passage.


Steele’s work on the presentation of scars and defects raises various subjects that relate to the performance through the utilization of new tools to deliver meaning. The film uses physical injuries for the presentation of the narrative. The film creates considerable anxiety for the viewers through continued stroking and a deadpan form of narration. Nonetheless, the simplicity of this presentation and narration does not understate the conceptual richness of Steele’s work. The performance of this film through a chronological presentation of the scars and defects, as well as the pauses and strokes, generate sympathy and finally causes astonishment among the viewers.

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