Body modification is the deliberate alteration of the body for non-medical reaso ns such as rites of passage, aesthetic

reasons, religious reasons, and to show s elf expression. Body modification is a term that is generally associated with ta ttooing and piercing but can also include branding, scarification, surgical impl ants, and a number of lesser known procedures and practices. Not all types of bo dy modification originated at the same time, while some practices have been arou nd for thousands of years, others have just begun to gain popularity in recent y ears. (Haworth). Tattoos are believed to have originated over 10,000 years ago, and the oldest documented tattoo belongs to Otzi the Iceman who died in 3300 B.C and who se body was found in 1991. Tattoos depicting animals and mythical creatures were also found on the mummified bodies of ancient Egyptian people. It is said that some form of tattooing can be found in every inhabited place on Earth but that w asn't always the case. When Christianity began to gain popularity, tattooing was increasingly associated with criminals as well as the pagan religion and were p rohibited in Europe by Constantine, the first Christian Roman emperor. By the la te eighteenth century, tattoos were no longer prohibited and started to become p opular with British sailors and seamen, and then gained even more popularity whe n King George V got tattooed. King George's tattoo led to a plethora of tattoos among royalty in the nineteenth century. Tattoos have long been used not only as a form of expression but as a form of identification. Nazis tattooed numbers on the arms of Jews during the Holocaust, and the Romans tattooed their slaves and criminals. Despite the grim uses of tattoos of the past, today people generally use tattoos to tell their personal stories and use their bodies as art galleri es. Throughout history there have been times that tattoos were thought of as tab oo but currently they are becoming more mainstream everyday, and the art of tatt ooing is ever improving due to the introduction of new techniques and technology . (Jablonski). Body piercing is another popular form of body modification that has been around for thousands of years. Nose piercing were first recorded approximately 4,000 years ago in the Middle East, and are mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 24 :22. Sometime in the 16th century, nose piercing was brought to India from the M iddle East. Nose piercing did not appear in the west until the 1960's when hippi es traveled to India and brought the trend back to the states. Tongue piercing o riginated with the ancient Aztecs in the form of a ritual where the tongue was p ierced to draw blood for the gods and to create an altered state of consciousnes s so shamans could communicate with the gods. Lip piercing were also popular amo ng the ancient Aztecs, and were reserved for male members of higher castes. Ther e are also numerous tribes throughout Africa in which pierced lips have a religi ous significance. Tongue piercings are now one of the most popular of all types of piercings. Ear piercing are thought to have originated for magical purposes. Primitive tribes believed that demons and spirits could enter a body through the ear, and these demons and spirits are supposed to be repelled by metal so ears were often pierced. In many societies ear piercing is also done as part of a rit ual such as in Borneo where the mother and father each pierce one ear of their c hild as a symbol that the child depends on their parents. Body piercings, much l ike tattoos, are becoming more popular with modern culture, and new techniques a nd procedures are taking the art to a whole new level. Piercers now have the abi lity to insert surgical implants under the skin, pierce new areas of the body, a nd perform microdermal anchoring. (Santa Monica). Scarification is a form of body modification that is gaining populari ty but is not yet as popular or well known as other types of body modifications. Scarification is defined as the creative or artistic application of scars in a controlled environment to achieve a desired result and appearance. Various types of scarification have been practiced for many years in many different tribes th roughout the world but have only recently begun to gain popularity in the west. The goal of scarification is to get a raised scar called a keloid scar, which gi ves the design a three dimensional appearance. Scarification is most often times used as a rite of passage whether it be during a tribal ceremony, or a personal

experience. There are various types of scarifications and different procedures are used to achieve different results. Branding is a type of scarification in wh ich heated metal is applied to the skin to create a serious burn which eventuall y becomes a scar. While scarification is growing in popularity, it is still not a well known procedure and should be performed by a qualified artist. (Guynup). The art of body modification has a long and fascinating history and the art is unlikely to fade away anytime soon. Modifications such as piercings and tattoos are becoming more mainstream and acceptable everyday, and the artist s that perform these modifications are constantly learning new techniques and be coming more skilled at their crafts. Body modification artists are constantly wo rking on new modifications that range from simple and mainstream to extreme and often times taboo, much like tattoos and piercings were at various times through out history. These sub-cultures that took to the extreme modification were hidde n away throughout history, one example being head binding in ancient Asia, the p ractice of intentionally deforming the skull of a human being. It is done by dis torting the normal growth of a child's skull by applying force. (Agelarakis). Th is practice has ceased to modern knowledge. Many subcultures still exist that take the idea of body modifi cation to extremes. Genital removal and limb amputation are examples of the hard core, permanent body modification that members of these subcultures aspire to. T hese practices go far beyond the bounds of what society deems as acceptable body modification. While the mainstream may view this behavior with revulsion and ba fflement, it raises the interesting question of what is and what is not acceptab le body modification in today's liberal society. Nullification involves the volu ntary removal of body parts. Body parts that are removed by those practicing bod y nullification are for example fingers, penis (penectomy), testicles (castratio n), clitoris, labia or nipples. Sometimes people who desire a nullification may be diagnosed with body integrity identity disorder or apotemnophilia. Psychiatri sts also believe that limb amputation is not a sexual fetish or psychosis but a symptom of body dysmorphic disorder, a crippling, but largely unheard of and und iscussed, mental disorder related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. BDD sufferer s obsess about minor flaws or imagined defects, usually involving the head and f ace. It can lead to social phobia and reclusion as sufferers avoid contact with others to hide their imagined deformities. Sufferers feel that their bodies just aren't "right", usually due to a particular feature. This may be a facial or bo dy feature, even a limb. They often attempt to get surgery done to "correct" the feature, up to and including amputation. If surgery is not available, they may attempt it themselves. This puts surgeons in a difficult position. If they do no t perform the operation, the BDD sufferer may be so obsessed with the offending limb or body feature that they may end up performing dangerous surgery upon them selves, which could lead to death. (McCain). Other extreme body modifications include trepanation, the practice d ating back to Neolithic times of surgically opening a hole in the skull. This is believed to be evidence of early surgical practice to relieve pressure after cr anial fractures. It may also have been done by shamans to induce hallucinations, Suspension, which involves embedding hooks into the flesh and hanging people. I t is not a permanent body modification, but is both painful and spectacular, and transgendered people have a conflict between their gender identity and physical appearance. Many wish to resolve this via operations upon their sexual features . (McCain). A more expensive and drastic form of body modification is cosmetic surgery, in which people go under a surgeon's knife to alter various p arts of their bodies. Breast augmentation, nose jobs, tummy-tucks and liposuctio n are among the different forms of cosmetic surgery. Sex change operations, for the above mentioned transgendered, in which surgeons change the gender of the pa tient, are another form of body modification. In Hollywood one might notice the variety of nips and tucks celebrities go under just to achieve a more attractive appearance. Breast implants are one of the largest realms in America. A breast implant is a prosthesis used to alter the size, form, and feel of a woman s breast s in post mastectomy breast reconstruction; for correcting chest wall congenital d

eformities; for the aesthetic enhancement of the bust; and as a procedural aspec t of male-to-female gender transition surgery. There are three general types of breast implant devices, defined by their filler material: saline, silicone, and composite (alternative composition). Cosmetic reconstruction is another large re alm in society being that surgical reconstruction can help victims of crashes, a nimal bites, accidents in general, to rebuild their face and dermis overall. Body modification can be a monstrous taboo, a mental illness, a body ravaging and sinister craft. Body modification can be beautiful, artful and meaningful. Unique and inspirational. Body modification can save lives. Giving a once beautiful muse her gift again, removing the horrible scars from the torn flesh, only to reveal another chance at life without the disturbing reactions th at critics can only possess. Body modification has pros and cons, it is taboo an d an expression of high society. One must decide with embedded morals whether it is one or the other.

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