On Sharp Objects, Camille Preaker has been dealing with a lot. Returning home has brought up all the trauma of her childhood, from her mother's neglect to the death of her younger sister Marian. She's also fresh from a stint in a psychiatric facility where she was trying to get help for harming herself. Camille used to cut words into her body, which has left her with numerous scars. But what words does Camille have on her body?
Not all of Camille's scars are visible or readable, but each of the eight episodes is named after one of the words: vanish, dirt, fix, ripe, closer, cherry, falling, and milk. Each word "encompasses the theme of the episode," as showrunner Marti Noxon told The Wrap. "Vanish" refers to Camille disappearing into her past. Then she deals with figurative dirt by combing through Wind Gap gossip in Episode 2, as well as the literal dirt of Natalie Keene's burial. In Episode 3, viewers learn that "fix" was the last word Camille put on herself before checking in to the facility. She later violently re-opened the wound after her roommate committed suicide.
In the book by Gillian Flynn that the show is based on, "vanish" is the last word that Camille cut before seeking help. Throughout the book, the words flare up in specific instances; it's almost as though Camille can feel them when the emotions associated with them are triggered. "I can quiet them down by thinking of vanish, always hushed and regal, lording over the other words from the safety of the nape of my neck," she says.
The location of the word changed on the show (in the first episode, it can be seen on the back of her right arm), but the words themselves seem to have remained mostly consistent. Noxon mentioned to The Wrap that every word on Camille's body came from the book; she didn't add any, though it might be hard to catch every single one while watching. The show handles the flare-ups by having words appear in semi-hidden spots throughout the sets: carved into a desk or scrawled in the dirt on Camille's car. A banner at Natalie's funeral initially reads "hope" but then changes to "hurt." It's not clear whether all of these subliminal words are supposed to mirror the words on Camille's body, but it is a plausible theory.
"Fornicate" and "f**k u up" can also be seen amongst Camille's scars on the show, the latter when she first meets her roommate at rehab. In the book, there are many others, described by Camille as "often feminine" or "flat-out negative." Cook, cupcake, kitty, curls, baby doll, and harmful are all among her scars, as are anxious, petticoat, panty, cherry, sew, and perky. Some more explicit words like "c*nt" are altered by Camille later to read "can't," and "c*ck" becomes "back." The first word she cut into her skin was "wicked," not long after Marian's death.
In the novel, Camille explains that at first she compulsively wrote words on her jeans or jotted them down in notebooks, copying down the seemingly innocuous statements the people around her said. She began to hurt herself the summer after Marian's death, when her looks brought her sudden popularity. She also mentions, in an offhand way that might be more deeply explored on the show, that she was sexually assaulted by older students around the same time.
The words tie into the things that have caused Camille emotional pain throughout her life. As noted by her, many of the words are traditionally feminine, and that was the kind of environment Adora raised her daughters in. She dresses Amma like a doll in floral dresses with bows in her hair; Adora herself favors pastel dresses and high heels even if she's gardening. Camille struggled to fit into that box and to be the kind of girl her mother wanted her to be, which might have contributed to the words she put on her body. They're an integral, but painful, part of her past: a visual record of all the hurt she has suffered.