France Borel "The Decorated Body" Response
Borel’s thesis is: The body is not a product of nature, but of culture. I agree with Borel because most of the decisions we make are based on social norms. Borel put body modification in a very negative light. In our culture, modification is wished for. Borel gave many examples of modifications that are forced. That makes me think that comparing the two seems unfair. For me, at least, body modification is self-expression. It seems that body modification for other cultures and tribes is for more than self-expression, it is to seem worthy to others around you. The examples of ornamentation and disfigurement in the article were terrible. All were forced upon people, not wished for.
I once read about a tribe that gauges the lower lip until it is a huge hole. It is hard to understand their rituals because we are biased towards all that we know. We know that forcing people to modify their own body is wrong, but to the other culture it is something that needs to be done. We can only truly understand their traditions by being a part of their culture. I agree with our own idea of modification, if wished upon. Some modifications are not needed.
What I believe is this: It is your body, you do what you want with it. Nothing should be forced upon anyone, certainly not painful modifications just to be accepted by peers. I also believe that we cannot understand anyone else’s culture unless we were born within that culture. Has Borel done field work with any of those cultures to figure out why they do any of the disfigurements? Yes, it is wrong to us, but only because we already have our own idea of what is ethical and unethical. Since we are biased towards our own culture’s beliefs, then we can never truly understand another culture.
Humans will always feel the need to belong, to be the best, or to stand out in a good way. In our culture, modifying the body becomes self-expression, showing off our status, and/or making ourselves feel good in our skin. Borel says that the human flesh in its raw form is threatening and I kind of agree with that statement. Most girls are afraid to go without make up because of what people might say about them in their natural state. Girls wear jewelry to complement their beauty, nice clothes to express the kind of person they are, and make up to conceal any flaws. Humans are obsessed with this idea of perfection and the only way to become perfect is to modify the human body because of its flaws.