Nacirema

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After reading the article “Body Ritual among the Nacirema”, I can’t help but notice blatantly obvious similarities between our culture and theirs. Their rituals, rites, and customs are bizarre in nature and seem to illustrate a nearly obsessive fascination with the human body. The main focus of their culture appears to be shaming people based on their appearance and forcing them to conform to the societal norms. Upon further reading, I noted that while the Nacirema put a high value on the upkeep of their bodies, they made it exorbitantly expensive to do so, even if a tribe member was dying of sickness and the supplies, or “potions”, were readily available to cure him/her. This seemed backwards. There are some aspects of the Nacirema culture that I did not like, such as the reluctance to heal the underprivileged ill, however the other aspects are simply interesting, such as those involving “listeners” and “holy-mouth-men”. A couple of paragraphs into the article, I noticed that “Nacirema” spelled backwards is “American”, and “Notgnihsaw” spelled backwards is “Washington”. I reread what I had already read with this new discovery in mind and finished the article, finding it both humorous and fascinating. It is so interesting to see our society through the eyes of an outsider who is oblivious to our customs. While some of the “bizarre” rituals, the “mouth rites” for example, seemed unnecessary to one without the knowledge we have, they are still necessary to our wellbeing. In regards to the description of hospitals and healthcare, as a nearly socialistic thinking liberal, I smirked a bit while reading that particular passage because I am also baffled by that social interaction. This parody of American society was underhandedly witty and holds a mirror up to the twisted face of our bizarre, superficial culture.
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