Elf Ears!

As promised long ago, here are the famed elf ears I spoke of:

The procedure is called ear pointing and it involves the removal of a small wedge of skin at the top of the ear and then the sewing together of the edges. Once healed the ear will have a pronounced point to it.

For a few more photos and some info go here:

http://wiki.bmezine.com/index.php/Ear_Pointing

Steve Hayworth, an extreme body modification artist, is credited with inventing the procedure. He began work as a piercer and then became a medical device designer, manufacturing equipment for plastic surgery. He is the most well known artist when it comes to extreme forms of modification, having given one man horns made of coral that will fuse to his skull, and implanted metal screws in another man’s head so that he can attach spikes forming a “Metal Mohawk.” Hayworth says that he considers himself and artist and that “flesh is his medium.”

Posted by: Amber

Is there Sanctity in all of this [body mod]?

According to the members of the Church of Body Modification (http://uscobm.com/) , “practicing body modification and engaging in body manipulation rituals strengthen the bond between mind, body, and soul. By doing so, we ensure that we live as spiritually complete and healthy individuals.”

The Church of Body Modification (C.o.B.M.) includes a mission statement, a board of directors, a statement of faith, and list of ministers on their website, which I consider to be quite serious. With such organization and leadership/tiers, it seems like it’s almost like a cult or gang, however, I don’t suspect the members have any intention of harming others.

In the Statement of Faith, in the Mission Statement on the C.o.B.M website, I fully understand that our bodies belong to ourselves and it’s up to each one of us to do as we please. That being said, I cannot argue with the members of this group, however, I do not personally agree with their practices nor find any of them reasonable. People do go to extreme measures to mask and sometimes, recover from life’s most painful events, yet I believe deep down, the trouble never leaves with such practices.

I cannot relate, but I find this interesting. Here is another way for individuals to come together and state their cause; their purpose and whether for attention or to draw others who would otherwise be lost, they can define their body modification(s) as holy.

Posted by: Jackie

Stretching (Body Piercing

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Stretching (Body Piercing)…
A common practice today that dates as far back as any form of body piercing that was done to the human body. 30,000 years ago we already saw this practice become very common among Asians and Africans.
Different Stretches for different Reasons

1. Women in Africa would stretch their Labia (vah jay jay) to attract a husband
2. Tribes in Mali and Ethiopia would stretch for religious purposes
3. Aztec and Mayan would use labret (piercing below their lip) to signify wealth
4. The Asmat tribe of Jaya would pierce the septum (between nose) using leg bones from a pig or a tibia from a slain enemy as a sign of status

Today we see young folks stretch according to their subculture. A common one that we see today are among the gothic, homosexual, and S&M. Each may participate for their own reasons, but the root of modern body piercing is from the belief of “modern primitive” People of this belief feel that body piercing bring spirituality to them. Some may also believe that body piercings are artistic, expression, or being symbolic. A common symbolic expression of a body piercing is surviving a sexual attack and piercing signifies them retaking their body.

if you become interested here is a guide
http://jewelry.about.com/od/bodyjewelry/a/gauging_lobes.htm

Posted by Jason

Permutation Procedures Aplenty

 

The menu is long and varies from familiar plastic surgery procedures to piercing of the back that allows for corsetting with ribbons (pictured to below). The website, www.bodysergeant.com has staggering, yet REAL images of individuals who have undergone body modification of all kinds.  On the site, I have seen what I consider to be some of the most disturbing images and yet I try to understand what is appealing to these people. With what seems like so much pain and potential medical complications, I actually ache as I browse through the photos…

 

Body Piercing Corset

 

I found a terrific article about the Social Psychology of Body Modification, which addresses precicely the issues that I question and wrestle with when looking at such images on www.plasticsergeant.comand when I come across individuals who have modified their bodies so much that I believe they will face social challenges.  This article, http://www.bmezine.com/culture/A60517/clttheso.html, is very relavent to the subject.

As the author of the article mentions, people with several piercings and tattoos may not feel or recognize that their body modifications are obtrusive or offensive to those in the workplace, but many people do find it distracting and inappropriate. Personally, I think that if it’s something that can be concealed or if the “art” is not vile (although, who is to say what’s what?), it’s OK. I understand that it can be discriminating to refuse someone for a job based on their appearance, but appropriateness per the environment is important and I don’t condone devaluing the individual for his/her taste or form or expression by any means.

Stereotypes exist in life in terms of everything and it’s not fun, but most all of us hold stereotypes or schemas as that’s what humans do! They need not be negative, but they exist. It’s important to recognize what is ultimately going on when a person decides that they need to: alter themselves so much that they either feel they can now be socially accepted by being an outcast, which seems totally oxymoronic or see themselves more positively by changing their appearance and thus, accepting their role in society.

It’s all very complex, yet fascinating. What’s your take and if you could and/or would, which body modification(s) would you go for?

Posted by: Jackie

Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the practice of intentionally altering or injuring the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The procedure is most common in several regions of Africa and in some countries in the Middle East and Asia. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM, with 92 million in Africa alone. In most societies that perform FGM it is considered a cultural tradition, which leads many people to try to use cultural relativism to excuse the practice. Many claim that it is a religious practice, however no known religious scripts endorse FGM. Rather, it is a social convention deeply rooted in gender inequality.

There are three main types of FGM:

1. Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris and sometimes the prepuce.

2. Excision: partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora and sometimes majora.

3. Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening by cutting, repositioning and sewing together the labia, leaving only a small opening for urine and menstrual blood to pass through.

FGM is typically performed on girls between infancy and age 15, usually in environments and with instruments that are not sterile. Women are usually held down and forced to cooperate, and often must have their legs bound together following the procedure during healing. The procedure is excruciatingly painful and can result in severe bleeding and shock (which can cause death), difficulty urinating, recurring bladder and urinary tract infections, cysts, open sores, infertility, psychological problems including post traumatic stress disorder, and bacterial infections (which can also cause death). FGM also makes childbirth extremely difficult and raises the risk of infant mortality. Women who have undergone infibulation must also undergo further procedures once they marry and when giving birth. In order to have intercourse or birth a child the vaginal opening must be slit open and then stitched back up every time.

FGM is based in the assumption that women are inferior to men and thus should be kept under control and that they are naturally untrustworthy and promiscuous. FGM alters the natural and healthy state of a woman’s body and changes it into something that she has no control over. The procedure changes her own body into a source of constant pain and discomfort, that may at some point kill her. It is meant to prevent a woman from ever experiencing sexual pleasure, thus stopping her from having premarital or extramarital sex. Women’s bodies are considered “clean” and “beatiful” only after the “unclean” parts have been removed, rendering a woman only an object for men to enjoy. The World Health Organization, The United Nations, and countless other organizations all oppose FGM as a violation of basic human rights and view it as a form of torture. Furthermore, many survivors of FGM have been extremely vocal in their opposition to the practice and their hope that it will stop.

For more information visit the WHO’s page on FGM:

http://www.who.int/topics/female_genital_mutilation/en/

Posted by: Amber

Stalking Cat and The Illustrated Lady

I have been researching examples of extreme body modification and want to share two of the most interesting that I have found so far. Many people have trouble understanding why someone would get even a tattoo or a piercing, let alone undergo an intense full body transformation. Stalking Cat and The Illustrated Lady are two individuals who have done just that, and they have very compelling reasons.

Julia Gnuse, otherwise known as The Illustrated Lady, holds the world record for being the most tattooed woman, having over 95% of her body covered, including her face. She suffers from a condition called porphyria, which makes one’s skin blister and then scar when exposed to sunlight. Rather than watch her body become covered in scars she decided to cover it with art first. Her tattoos do not stop the scarring, they just make it less apparent.

Dennis Avner, who prefers to go by his Native American name Stalking Cat, is a computer programmer who grew up in a community made up of people from the Huron and Lakota tribes. He decided at a young age that he wanted to transform himself into his totem animal, the tiger. He began with tattoos to give himself tiger stripes and has since had procedures to make his nose more upturned like a cat’s and has had collagen implants in his lips and had his upper lip split. He even has piercings in his upper lip that allow him to attach whiskers and has had his teeth replaces with fang-like dentures. He has spent a great deal of money and experienced intense pain in order to acheive his goal of becoming a “perfect cross between a cat and a human.” In fact, because it is illegal for surgeons to perform procedures on patients that would go beyond what is considered “normal” he must seek out various body modification artists, who of course cannot use anesthesia.

This article from the BBC provides some interesting information regarding Stalking Cat: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/articles/disorders/gallery/gallery_cse2.shtml

This article and others treat Stalking Cat’s behavior as a disorder, stating that he may have a rare form of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. What do you think? Are people who undergo extreme body modifications necessarily mentally ill? Or might they have their reasons? And does it even matter? Should people comment on what someone should or shouldn’t do with his or her own body?

Posted by: Amber

Body Piercing — What’s considered decent anymore?

  In some cultures, newborn girls get their ears pierced shortly after entering the world and in other cultures, body piercings of any kind are forbidden. A puncture in the skin (piercing) has been around for over 4,000 years, dating back to the Biblical period. The nose piercing was first recorded during that time in the Middle East and a golden earring was given to Rebecca as a gift. Several cultures follow traditions upon marriage, which denote wealth and in India for example, the nose stud is supposed to lessen childbirth suffering for the woman.

  The most popular body parts for piercings seem to be the ears, belly button, and nose, however you can find people with just about any part of their body punctured these days. What is the fascination with piercings though? Do individuals actually like to punish themselves, suffering the pain and possible infection associated with piercings? I don’t know exactly what the motivation is, but I suppose people have various reasons for obtaining body piercings. Personally, I consider myself to be a conservative person, yet I have several ear piercings and 2 tattoos. My desire for these modifications simply progressed slowly throughout my life from age five when I got my ears pierced for the first time.

  I believe like with any other form of body modification or anything in life for that matter, there are extremes to which people take things and I have found the following blog to be interesting:

http://andrewlanderyou.blogspot.com/2006/10/tragic-body-piercing-big-mistake.html

  I think we all can agree that the image found on the front page of the blog is chilling; Sure some people will find innumerable piercings (not to mention atop a fully tattooed face) appealing while others will find it absolutely horrific! Where does conscience come into play here? That’s what I can’t figure out. Do people who totally transfigure their bodies have any concern about the response of those at their workplace or perhaps there isn’t such an issue? I view it as the desire to be different, to stand alone, and truly wear the message: “I don’t care if you don’t like it! Screw You!” Maybe I am just cynical…

Posted by: Jackie