Body piercing in the Western world has evolved considerably in recent decades.
The history of body modification goes back to ancient times, of course, and isnt just a product of todays medical/surgical advancements. Felines have been a major inspiration, as seen in a variety of attempts to look like cats, tigers, and similar animals. Perhaps the appeal is the animal magnetism? The wearing of animal skin capes and headdresses by African tribes is one example. Other indigenous cultures have used facial and body tattooing and modification of anatomical features to achieve their own unique sense of beauty, such as Burmese neck lengthening or African lip plates and ritual body modifications, to help them identify as belonging to a particular cultural, ethnic, or tribal group.
Today we travel outside the US to explore the lip plate, a form of body modification thats still practiced in Africa among a few indigenous tribes, particularly in the central and southern part of the continent, as well as among some tribes in the Amazon rain forest. Women from the Mursi tribe in southwestern Ethiopia are particularly notable for this practice because their village has turned into a tourist attraction for Westerners to come and get their gawk on.
Its filled with nerve endings, it turns red when were embarrassed, and for most people its also an erogenous zone. Stretching the earlobe has been practiced for thousands of years, and still continues today as a cultural tradition in many indigenous tribes around the globe, including the Mursi in Ethiopia and hill tribes in northern Thailand, where it can be a rite of passage, a spiritual symbol, or a sign of status.
Lip and eyelid sewing are on the list of extreme forms of body modification. They’re a type of cosmetic procedure that is certainly not meant to improve one’s looks. Sometimes referred to as “play piercing,” this bizarre practice falls under the category of ritualistic body modification because it is typically connected to personal symbolism for individuals who undergo this painful process to make a point, for example, as an act of protest. This body ritual may also be incorporated into a public performance at a body mod conference, or one may feel the need for assistance in focusing their mind when meditating; lips sewn together can effectively remove the temptation to speak.
Uvula piercing is an infrequent form of body modification because it has a high failure rate due to the intensity of the gag reflex, which makes it extremely difficult to apply or receive the piercing. It may take numerous attempts to clamp and secure the uvula for piercing. Mucus bubbles typically appear, making the process even more frustrating to accomplish. And once in place, mucus bubbles can form on the ring at any time.
It’s all about individualism, expression, and the freedom to do and be. Corset piercing is a temporary body modification that can be very alluring. It consists of at least, and most commonly, 2 rows of bilaterally symmetrical piercings that create a corseted or ladder-like appearance. Some designs have branched out to include spider weblike or spherical applications. More popular as a summer look, corset piercings are often referred to as a fetish. They are frequently performed on the back, but also on stomach sides, necks, chests, thighs, legs, ankles, arms, and even faces. This body modification is not easy to care for or maintain. There are abundant issues with regard to healing, rejection, and scarring. The location of corset piercings can make care difficult, especially if they are located on the person’s back, which is hard to reach independently. Vigilance is required to avoid damage from hair, clothing, blankets, bedding, exercise, and so much more. This type of piercing can, and usually does, leave permanent scarring.
Body modification is described as “Intentional alteration of the human body for religious, aesthetic, or social reasons. Modifications and mutilations are performed for purposes such as magical protection, medical or pseudo-medical intervention, cosmetic enhancement, and punishment. Alterations include head flattening, insertion of a lip plug, tattoos, scarification, piercing of the ear and other parts of the body, circumcision, foot binding, and amputation. That similar modifications are interpreted very differently from one culture to the next is an excellent indication of the relativity of ideals of beauty and deformity.”