Body Modifications: Are They Taboo?

The application of body modifications has been greatly ingrained into different cultures as it symbolizes their customs, traditions, practices, beliefs, and way of life. Many believe having these modifications done to their body can give them spiritual enlightenment, signify their social status, and the marking of major life milestones. Several types of body modifications have arisen and evolved through the years, some considered “simple” and others “extreme”. Let me share with you some of the most popular and still practiced;

Body Piercings being the first traditional body modification starting with ear piercing have then expanded over the past few decades to other body parts such as navels, lips, tongues, noses, lips, and even genitalia. Piercings are more temporary as you have the option of removing and letting the hole heal and close. Mostly practiced in tribal settings the art of stretching a piercing is being done, in which your piercing will typically only shrink back so much and never return to normal. Stretching can be achieved by placing large size pieces to the whole for a length of time.

Branding and Scarification were first and traditionally performed on darker-skinned people for whom tattooing was not a good option, however as time advanced the practice was being done by organizations such as fraternities as a way to identify members and promote brotherhood. There are different ways of scarification:

  • Ash Rubbing into a fresh wound is done to irritate the wound and increases the amount of scarring.
  • Branding is achieved by burning the skin with heated metal.
  • Cutting Scarification is done by scratching or etching the skin using a scalpel.
  • Chemical Scarification is the burning of the skin using chemical agents.
  • Dremel Scarification is where layers of skin are ground away using the rotating abrasive tip of a rotary tool like the Dremel.
  • Tattoo Gun Scarification is much like the concept of the Dremel technique but with the use of an inkless Tattoo Gun.
  • Skin Removal is where the top layer of the skin is removed completely, this usually leaves a slightly more raised scar.

Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin from a male’s penis. This is usually done for hygienic purposes but many practices this as a form of passage from boy to man or for some cultures have a religious significance. 

Cosmetic Surgery, the latest and most extreme of body modification has made a great impact and change in the practice. Mostly done via surgical procedures which involved licensed medical professionals. Most of these procedures are:

  • Blepharoplasty is an eyelid surgery with the goal of removing excess skin.
  • Body and Facial Contouring are usually non-invasive and non-surgical with several techniques being offered to help improve the proportion and shape of the body and face.
  • Breast Augmentation refers to the enhancement of the breast’s fullness, shape, and contours via a surgical procedure.
  • Cosmetic Dentistry, common treatments include teeth whitening, dental bonding, and veneers.
  • Dermabrasion is the removal of the top layers of the skin to treat severe acne scars and the reduction of wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Dermal Fillers are gel-like substances injected beneath the skin to restore volume, smooth lines, soften creases, or enhance facial contours.
  • Lifting of the Brows, Face, Neck, Arms, Breast, Buttocks, and Thighs to stretch and tighten sagging skin for a younger appearance.
  • Laser Hair Removal uses a concentrated beam of light (laser) to remove unwanted hair.
  • Laser Resurfacing is a treatment to reduce facial wrinkles and skin blemishes via laser.
  • Liposuction is a surgical procedure that uses a suction technique and tool to remove fat from specific areas of the body.
  • Otoplasty is ear surgery with the goal of changing the ear’s appearance
  • Rhinoplasty is nose surgery with the goal of changing the nose’s appearance

Implants or the procedure of implanting a foreign object under the skin is considered to be another extreme type of body modification. Type of Implants:

  • Magnetic Implants are magnets placed under the skin so that the other half of the magnet can be attached to the outside of the skin.
  • Subdermal Implants are a 3D form of body art with a piece of Teflon or silicone material placed under the skin, creating a raised design.
  • Transdermal Implants are anchor-type studs with a flat back that is pocketed into the skin with part of the jewelry on the outside.

Tattoos, the most common in body modification, have been in existence for centuries. Associated in both a negative and positive light depending on the period it was being practiced. Different techniques and tools are being used;

  • Bamboo Tattoo Technique is simply an extreme version of the hand poke method, typically found in many parts of Japan and Thailand using a handcrafted needle, made from bamboo wood that has been formed to be smooth and round on the end, and finished with up to 24 points at the tip.
  • Hand Tapped Tattoo Technique has reached across the world, stretching its way around the globe. The modern methods we use today are said to have originated from the hand-tapped tattoo technique.
  • Ink Rubbing – Cutting Technique is when the skin is cut into the desired design and tattoo ink is then rubbed into the fresh cut, cuts made are thinner compared to cuts done with skin removal for scarification.
  • Skin Stitching Technique uses a thread and a special needle specific for skin stitching typically found in North America. The thread used is soaked in ink and then literally stitched into the skin. When removed, the tattoo of the thread will be left behind.

Waist Training is a way to “train” the waist to be smaller by using a tight corset for long periods, in more extreme cases, some have their lower ribs surgically removed to help achieve the cinched-waist look.

Most of these body modifications have turned into forms of art and self-expression, while some have helped many to build confidence by being able to achieve their standards of beauty. When we hear the term “body modification” many tend to think of the extreme alterations to our bodies, however, some fail to see how almost all of us participate in this practice. Take the simplest of body modification as an example “ear piercing”, nowadays as early as a couple of weeks old baby girl will find pierced ears or a newborn baby boy with a circumcised penis. 

Whether it is for religious, medical, or aesthetic reasons, it has been proven that these body modification practices are here to stay and evolve, building our cultures and also creating trusted artists and professionals who have taken these practices to different levels. Since most of these body modifications involve heavy procedures, it is a must to know where we can get these done and who is best to do them for us. Piercings and Tattoos, the most common and traditional can be both found being offered together in Tattoo Shops or Parlours and are being done by licensed tattoo artists. Cosmetic Surgery usually is done by medical professionals such as doctors with specializations like Plastic surgeons and Dentists. Depending on the cosmetic need you can find these services available in different establishments like laser hair removal and dermabrasion can be found in Beauty Spas, while teeth whitening and veneers can be found in Dental Offices, then liposuction and rhinoplasty can be found in Clinics or Skin Care Centers.

If you are currently on the journey of self-discovery and feel like modifying your body is one way to express yourself but still are unsure? Well, the only way you can answer that lingering question is to ask the right people, ask a licensed artist or professional now and get a better understanding. Finding a nearby Tattoo Parlour, Beauty Spa, or Skin Care Center is easy to look up, and booking an appointment is as easy as a click! 

Francis O'Palick 06/01/2023

Beauty Related Articles

Hair Waxing, Is It Worth the Pain?

Hair Waxing is the most popular method of hair removal today and has been used for centuries due to its many benefits, but is it worth the pain?

Read More..

Facials, Treatment or just a Treat?

Now that we live in a generation where skin care has become part of people’s daily routines and self-care, the question of facials comes to mind, is it a need or just simply a treat?

Read More..

A Quick Intro to India’s Wedding Season

An Indian wedding consists of three parts, the Haldi, the Mehndi, and the Sangeet which all play a very important role in the celebration of the union of two people. Now, let us dive into these ceremonies…

Read More..

What is Beauty?

The word “beauty” was derived from the old French “beaute”, based on the Latin “Bellus” meaning beautiful, fine. But what is Beauty? and who are the professionals keeping us beautifully healthy?

Read More..

Beauty Related Articles