Body Modification Tattoos and Piercings

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Bodies & Clothes: Cultural implications

Under this heading I have chosen to sub head “Body modification” as I think

some cultures feel this method is more sufficient and important to them than clothes

Every culture, race and ethnic groups has a certain relation to clothing. There

is a endless selection of clothes. Many trends are available for all shapes and sizes,

age, gender and nationality. Only we can decide what type of person and status we

portray by our choice of garment. We wear clothes to influence other peoples

perception of us. We recognize certain people by their garments. For instance, the

army, policemen, doctors and firemen. Each of these wear a certain uniform that

allows us to recognize who they are. Many culture groups have a certain way of

dressing due to religious beliefs. E.g. Muslim women cover ninety five per cent of

their body at all times. That’s what they believe is the right way to dress. Other groups

are free to choose what they want to wear and how to wear it.

Body modification is a universal culture. All cultures, tribes and populations

have attempted to change their appearances and body to in order to fulfil their cultural

beliefs, religious and social obligations. Body modification has been practiced for

thousands of years. It can be as simple as cutting your hair, changing your make up

and clothes to the extremes of plastic surgery. Even dieting and body building is

considered a form of body modification, as we are changing the way we look in order

to appear the way we want to be seen. For some people simple modifications as some

above don’t please them entirely. They seek some permanent body modification such

as tattoos or semi permanent such as piercing. Others seek adrenaline rushes from

body modification such as suspended flesh hook piercing. This is when eight metal

hooks are pierced and inserted into your back and legs so your can hang suspended

from your piercing. Other crazy forms of modification are a technique called body

branding where the use of extreme heat is applied to the flesh creating a decorative

scar. Just like the branding of a cow with a hot iron bar. Scarification: this involves

cutting into the skin to form raised scar tissue. This method can be used to create

patterns and words on the body. It shows up when the cut scars over. It’s a ancient

African tribal form of body art. It is believed that scarring was developed because they

have to dark of skin to be tattooed on. It is a ritualised practice in most tribes to this

day. They believe that these scars will protect them from the evil spirits of death and

to receive family pride e.g. coming of age ceremony when boy becomes man. The

scars bring honour to the entire family.

For the duration of my essay I am going to focus on two of the most known

types of body modification which are tattoos and piercing. Tattoos are pictures or

deigns that have been imprinted on the person’s skin. They are personal to the

recipient getting tattooed as some can be symbolic or simply appealing to the person.

Tattoos are stencilled on to the body or drawn on the skin. They then get a tattoo

machine and put black ink on the needle and trace out your design to make them

permanent. Some are coloured in depending on the design.

The earliest known evidence of tattoos on the body were from Egypt when

archaeologists discovered the remains of a female mummy dated to 2000bc. This

female mummy displayed several dots and lines across her body for ritual practices.

This was the earliest evidence of tattoos until the discovery of a five thousand year

old preserved ice man from the mountains between Austria and Italy in 1991. This

was the best preserved corpse of that...
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