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Body Modifications in the Modern Western Society - Essay Example

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Name Instructor Course Date Body Modifications in the Modern Western Society In some societies that are considered to be primitive compared to urbanized places, many cultural aspects as well as traditional customs may be seen as appalling, dreadful, and could make people rather squeamish…
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Body Modifications in the Modern Western Society
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Download file to see previous pages It is imperative that considerations with regards to the ideals and beliefs be taken in order to understand as to why not just primitive cultures but modern society in general fully accepts body piercing and modification as a part of the norm. Body piercings and modifications are components of a long history of cultures that are usually rooted in shamanic and other healing practices (Favazza 2). In the past, and even in the present, blood has been a symbol of life, and thus most cultures would be putting emphasis on the importance of life and living by holding sacrifices, blood-letting, scarifications and tattoos to tribal members, whether it is part of a rite of passage or as prayer for healing, among others. The transformation of the body can be also seen as a part of a tribe’s culture, of either as a status symbol or as the ideal picture of being presentable (“Cultural Customs”). The price of attaining beauty with regards to the perspectives of some particular tribes is by altering the normal appearance of the body into what is considered beautiful. As compared to the modern societies today, this is not something new, since there are many people who also modify their bodies by adding piercings, tattoos, even scars to promote their own identities. However, it is not a cultural thing, but a matter of choice, as is also other modifications such as body implants, body building, and other dietary alterations (Featherstone 1).
Body modification is defined as practices that aim to change the natural appearance of the body in any form or means (Featherstone 1). Among such practices would be tattooing of skin, body piercings, the addition of implants in the body as well as the other dietary and exercise regimen such as fasting and body-building. In some primitive cultures, altering the body to some extent is regarded as either a rite of passage or as a beautification ritual. The addition of tattoos and other forms of scarification gives the younger boys their passport to adulthood. In a tribe in Papua New Guinea, the cutting of skin and making it seem like a crocodile’s is not just for beautification, but as a part of the transformation of boys into adults, and by entering such a ritual is their recognition of being mature in the eyes of the whole village (“Cultural Customs”). The Suri tribe in Africa cut their lips and insert a clay pot in it, and according to their customs, the larger the plate, the more one woman is desirable to other men, and she might even get a lot of cattle as dowry for marriage (“Cultural Customs”). In Indonesia, chiseling the teeth into fine points is considered to be another form of adornment, and women who get their teeth chiseled are seen as having a higher status than those who don normal-looking teeth (“Cultural Customs”). In a westerner’s perspective this seems to be cruel, it must also be remembered that modifications of the body such as breast implants and rhinoplasty are also done my many women in order to become much more attractive to males. Also, for some people the addition of implants is a way of hastening the process of evolution. Performance artists such as Orlan and Stelarc modify their bodies through implants such as horns, and by altering their bodies they convey the message of critiquing the notion and concept of beauty (Featherstone 9). For most ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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