Monday, May 5, 2014

Bod Mod

    The language of Attire consists not only of those things which we put on and take off each day, but also of those semi-permanent and permanent things we do to alter ourselves from our fully natural state.  Even such simple things as a haircut, or color job, or getting our nails done are actually a part of the language that expresses our individual identity.

    As a form of adornment body modification has been with us right from the beginning.  When we noted accidentally that the juice from certain berries stained the skin, and we could apply that in patterns, or that mud rubbed into the hair allowed us to shape it in interesting ways we started climbing the body mod trail.
    It wasn't long before we learned that we could create, on purpose, the same sort of scars we got
while hunting.  And we utilized that to great effect.  From there it was a simple matter to get to tattooing, which has reached an unparalleled level of artistry in the last few years.  We have used tattooing and scarring to mark us literally as members of tribes and associations; to claim allegiance to a religion or a nation.  And as a method of personal expression it is the most broadly used type of permanent modification;  giving voice to our history, accomplishments, dreams and goals, the world over.

    Other methods of changing our shape forever have existed along side these. Various cultures have clasped rings around the neck to stretch it longer to adhere to a cultural norm of beauty.  We have compressed the feet of women to the point where they cannot walk unaided,  The people of ancient Crete bound metal bands around children's waists to keep them small in perpetuity.  We have plucked our eyebrows, shaved our foreheads, curled our beards and pierced pretty much every part of our bodies with bone, wood and metal.
    And all of this to both define us as unique individuals and to claim membership in a kind of society.

    But in the 20th century things took a different turn, one which we have never shied from since.  Surgical alterations.  With the increasing reliability of surgery, and an ever growing desire to fit the norm presented by media, women, almost exclusively, started resorting to plastic surgery to get what they wanted.  Face lifts, tummy tucks and breast implants were only the start of it. 
    Since then virtually anything one can conceive of can and is done to change the face and body.  Men get pectoral and calf implants, or shoot synthol into the body to increase apparent muscle mass. Women and men get the excess fat removed form their bodies with suction.  People can be made taller or shorter, wider or narrower, all that it requires is a willingness to endure significant pain, and the money to pay for it.

    Now I cannot claim to have any moral compass point for this; nor should I, I haven't the wisdom. I do however have a question to pose. If we as individuals feel we can only achieve a level of comfort and individuality by increasingly extreme changes to ourselves, what does that mean about our society as a whole?  Or am I over-thinking this?

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