Body modification

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Body modification (or body alteration) is the permanent or semi-permanent deliberate altering of the human body for non-medical reasons, such as spiritual, various social (markings), BDSM "edgeplay" or aesthetic[citation needed]. It can range from the socially acceptable decoration (e.g., pierced ears in many societies), to the overtly religiously mandated (e.g., circumcision in a number of cultures), to corporal punishment, to provocative statement by the rebellious (e.g., tongue splitting).

Some futurists, such as those who identify as transhumanist, believe that eventually humans will pursue body modification with more advanced technological means, such as permanently implanted devices to enhance mental and physical capabilities, thereby becoming cyborgs[citation needed]. This has been explored in fiction such as the The Six Million Dollar Man and Doctor Who's Cybermen. For the substantial number of people with heart pacemakers and brain implants such as cochlear implants and electrical brain stimulators for Parkinson's disease, this is already a reality.

Body art is any body part modification for artistic or aesthetic reasons. However the term is often extended to all socially significant markings, often displaying the bearer belongs to some hereditary (e.g. tribal), age, religious or other group, and therefore on body parts that remain or can be 'decently' exposed in public, except if the group is private or even secret[citation needed].

Types of body modification

Body modifications occurring as the end result of long term activities or practices

  • Corsetry or tightlacing - binding of the waist and shaping of the torso
  • Cranial binding - modification of the shape of infants' heads, now extremely rare
  • Foot binding - compression of the feet to modify them for aesthetic reasons
  • Non-surgical elongation of organs by prolonged stretching using weights or spacing devices. Some cultural traditions prescribe for or encourage members of one sex (or both) to have one organ stretched till permanent re-dimensioning has occurred, such as:
    • The 'giraffe-like' stretched necks (sometimes also other organs) of women among the Burmese Kayan tribe, the result of wearing brass coils around them. This compresses the collarbone and upper ribs but is not medically dangerous. It is a myth that removing the rings will cause the neck to 'flop'; Padaung women remove them regularly for cleaning etc.
    • Stretched lip piercings - achieved by inserting ever larger plates, such as those made of clay used by some Amazonian tribes.


The head of a man with conspicuous tattoos and other body modifications

Some sources of controversy stem from the notion of attempting to artificially beautify the natural form of the body, often leading to charges of disfigurement and mutilation. Extreme forms of Body Modification are occasionally viewed as symptomatic of body dysmorphic disorder, other mental illnesses, or as an expression of unchecked vanity[citation needed]. Often the general public are unprepared for some forms of modification and reports of the ostracism of modified individuals are widespread within the modification community[citation needed]. Unlicensed surgery performed outside of a medical environment can often be life-threatening, and is illegal in most countries and states[citation needed].

"Disfigurement" (a subjective term) and "mutilation" (regardless of any appreciation this always applies objectively whenever a bodily function is gravely diminished or lost, as with castration) are terms used by opponents of body modification to describe certain types of modifications, especially non-consensual ones. Those terms are used fairly uncontroversially to describe the victims of torture, who have endured damage to ears, eyes, feet, genitalia, hands, noses, teeth, and/or tongues, including amputation, burning, flagellation, piercing, skinning, and wheeling[citation needed]. "Genital mutilation" is also used somewhat more controversially to describe certain kinds of socially prescribed modifications to the genitals, such as circumcision, female circumcision, castration, and surgeries performed to conform the genitals of individuals with intersex conditions to those of typical males or females[citation needed].

Individuals known for extensive body modification

See also


  1. Anal Stretching - BME Encyclopedia
  2. Dermal Anchoring - BME Encyclopedia
  3. Ear Shaping - BME Encyclopedia
  4. Ear Cropping - BME Encyclopedia
  5. Ear Pointing - BME Encyclopedia
  6. Genital Frenectomy - BME Encyclopedia
  7. Inversion - BME Encyclopedia
  8. Microdermal - BME Encyclopedia
  9. Nipple Removal - BME Encyclopedia
  10. Nipple Splitting - BME Encyclopedia
  11. Jamie Gadette. "Underground". Salt Lake City Weekly.
  12. Scrotal Implant - BME Encyclopedia
  13. Silicone Injection - BME Encyclopedia
  14. Horn Implant - BME Encyclopedia
  15. Tongue Frenectomy - BME Encyclopedia
  16. Tooth Filing - BME Encyclopedia
  17. Shannon Larratt. "nullification, the voluntary removal of body parts". BMEzine. Retrieved 2007-08-29.
  18. Shannon Larratt (March 18, 2002). ModCon: The Secret World Of Extreme Body Modification. BMEbooks. ISBN 0973008008.
  19. Adam Callen. "What is TOO Extreme for Body Modification?". Ezine Articles. Retrieved 2007-08-29.

External links

da:Kropsforandring de:Körpermodifikation simple:Body modification fi:Kehonmuokkaus sv:Deformation (fysiologi)