Body Modification

The concept of body modifications has long been prevalent in the human race. Put in simple words, ‘body modification’ refers to the process of making changes in the body. The changes incorporated can be temporary or permanent in nature. Primarily done for the purpose of beautification, body modification has emerged to be very different from what it had started as. The need as well as the ways for body modification has undergone transformation. This concept of making changes in the body has various implications and differs from culture to culture. While sharp objects, to tattoos to amputations are all categorized as ways to modify any part of the body, jewelries are the most common element that is used in body modifications.

Apart from being a fashion statement, body modifications in early days were done for purely religious reasons. This thing still prevails in the modern times where examples can be cited from various regions. Believers do so with this faith that their sacrifice and pain will satisfy God and they will be granted their wishes. The pain inflicted on the body while doing so becomes immaterial at that time.

Tracing back to the times of Indus Valley civilization, ornaments or jewelries has played a crucial role in body modifications. Earrings, anklets, necklaces, nose rings all excavated from the ruins have proved that they were in use in those days. The Bronze statues of a dancing girl excavated at one such site bore proof of the same fact. Bangles, rings, head bands also found at the excavation sites are evidence of the fact that even men used these for body modifications.

For many cultures across the world, body modifications have an altogether different need and importance. It is an inherent part of their culture and they are taught to imbibe this from their very childhood. Say for example in Myanmar, the women of the Padaung tribe has this tradition to wear tight neck rings around their necks. The practice starts at a tender age of 5. While at this time, the number of ring put around the neck is one, the number soon increases with time. It’s quite prevalent among them to wear as many rings as possible around their calves too. The ultimate reason for doing so is to modify the neck as in the process it gets elongated at times to alarming rates. Other body modifications followed by tribes related to this use jewelry extensively for elongating their ear lobes or ear piercings done previously.

Instances of body modifications can also be found in the American culture where the use of labrets is common among First Nations people inhabiting the North west coast. Modifications of the lips with the use of lip plates are common among Sara and Mursi people, mostly of African origin.

Body modifications can hence be categorized as common and ‘extreme’. While some are temporary and easy to do like body piercing, ear piercing, dermal anchoring which is placing a small steel bead on the skin, neck rings and tattooing – some can be really dangerous and harmful. The extreme kinds consist of tongue splitting and extra ocular implant.

With time, the sense of fashion has undergone a considerable change. For so long, footwear, jewelry and handbags co ordinate perfectly with stylish attire drew the attention in the crowd. Now is the time, when a ethnic embroidered apparel from India or a chic Indo western wear is well complimented by a perfectly done body modification.

La Sumisa
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