Nacirema

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At first glance, it might seem that culturally-advanced and deep-thinking Americans have relatively little in common with the comparatively narcissistic, shallow, and primitive Nacirema, who carve out an existence somewhere between "the Canadian Cree, the Yaqui and Tarahumare of Mexico, and the Carab and the Awawak of the Antilles" ("Body Ritual among the Nacirema, p. 1). Who could even think to compare Americans, in our advanced state, with such a remote and isolated group? However, upon closer reflection, however, it occurred, much to the present author's surprise, that the Nacirema and Americans are in fact mirror images of one another. First, the Nacirema have a "highly developed market economy which has evolved into a rich natural habitat" ("Body Ritual among the Nacirema, p. 1). The same might be said of Americans, where virtually everything is bought and sold. The ritual activities for the human body with which the Nacirema are obsessed could be compared to the elaborate grooming rituals of average Americans: bathing and showering, blow-drying hair, brushing and flossing teeth, applying underarm deodorants and colognes or perfumes, shaving the face (for men) and legs and underarms (for women), putting on make-up (in the past, for women only, but sometimes, now, for men, too), and cutting, trimming, bleaching, brushing, coloring, curling, or otherwise manipulating the hair. Increasingly, many Americans go so far as to but sticky, gooey little strips of some substance or other on both the top and bottom layers of their teeth and leave them there for up to half an hour each day, to make them whiter. Americans complain often of extreme tooth sensitivity due to this practice, but refuse to cease this ritual. Clearly, between grooming and attending to their advanced market economy, Americans, like the Nacirema, have little time left over for any, more idle endeavors. Also Americans, like the Nacirema, consider the human body fundamentally ugly and in need of

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