Body Modifications Around the World
This interesting exposé covers everything from the binding of young women’s feet, to stretching out their necks.
Body modifications are a common practice all around the world. Many use them to tell a story or to show creativity. There are numerous types of body modifications. Some of the more common kinds are tattoos and piercings. Then there are more complex types such as stretching of the skin in many regions and deforming certain body parts. While many of these modifications may seem peculiar, they are a normal part of many cultures around the world. Numerous people around the world decorate their body for several reasons, including trying to look more attractive for a mate, to show off their marital status, and to embrace their children into their culture.
In today’s society, it is not uncommon to try and better the way we look in order to find someone. For example, in America, plenty of women undergo plastic surgery to achieve the look of an hourglass figure or a smaller nose to become more attractive for a partner. In Africa, there are tribes where men will stretch out their ears down to their chins, or farther, to look more appealing to the women. Scarification is a common practice for the men in the tribes of New Guinea. They scar their body all across their bodies to resemble an alligator. It shows the women that they have grown into a man and are eligible for such responsibilities.
People publicly show their commitment to another person in a myriad of ways. In America, it is typical to wear a wedding band on the left ring finger, whereas in India, married women tend to wear a red dot in the middle of their foreheads to symbolize their commitment to their spouse. In the Amish culture, men tend to grow long beards once they are married. If you are not married, you are required to shave. For people who are deployed or in the military, it is usual for the spouse to tattoo a wedding band on their fingers since jewelry is not permitted. All of these modifications are beautiful in their meaning, if not in actual appearance.
Parents always want the best for their children, whether it seems drastic or not. In the Jewish religion, it is custom to circumcise their male children at birth. They do this so their children can be entered into the Jewish community, and become closer to God. In some tribes in Africa, many parents will sharpen their child’s teeth as a rite of passage. This is done because it is believed that teeth hold negative emotions such as anger and jealousy. Back in the olden days in China, many women would wrap their daughter’s feet in bandages to keep their feet small. Small feet are attractive in China, and it is also said that the women who endured this made good wives because they suffered through the pain without complaining.
While many of these modifications are considered strange and cruel, it is important to the people who practice them. To them, these practices are just a way of life that they have been carrying on for generations. It all comes down to everyone’s own personal beliefs. Everyone does things that other people or cultures may find unusual, but in the end, they do it because it makes them happy. Whether they do it as a way to feel and look beautiful, or as a way to preserve their personal connections with God or their families, the meaning behind it is still beautiful and complicated at the same time.