Body Mods

If we culturally allow our young girls to pierce their ears, then it would be hypocritical of us to disallow those same girls to pierce their belly buttons or noses.

I caught an interesting documentary on body modification on Discovery HD. It described all sorts of modification from simple tattooing and piercing to scarring, branding, corseting, and transdermal surgery.

ouch!The sociology behind such permanent choices seems to be modern tribalism. In the increasing absence of unique cultures, especially in light of constant global consolidation, people on the fringe are running in droves to make their mark (excuse the pun).

Other types of modification were mentioned as evidence for the phenomenon being more mainstream than one might expect. Breast implants, face lifts, tummy tucks all are a form of more acceptable body modification. For that matter, other more traditional types (single lobe piercings for women) have been around for quite some time. So what makes these more pleasing than other forms?

The answer, according to the documentary, is cultural anthropology. It’s nothing more than social programming. Certain tribes brand themselves to stand apart from outsiders. People groups naturally gravitate toward a means of uniquely identifying one another, whether consciously or not.

More than a couple times, some participants mentioned either:

  1. the intense need to take complete ownership of one’s own body, even to the point of permanent deformity, and
  2. revolting against the alleged Western Judeo-Christian mindset of social conformity and fear of the body.

I don’t personally have a problem with the concept of body modification. I feel that if we culturally (in the West) allow our young girls to pierce their ears, then it would be hypocritical of us to disallow those same girls to pierce their belly buttons or noses.

And yet, in light of point number 1 above, I’m hesitant. I’m reminded of this passage from 1 Corinthians 12 (The Message):

“We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which He has the final say in everything. Each of us is now a part of His resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain – His Spirit – where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive. I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together.”

This tells me that my body really isn’t my own anymore because of a choice I made long ago. I’m to be a servant to others. That choice wouldn’t necessarily preclude modifying my body’s physical appearance, but I would want to be sure that I’m doing it for the right reasons.

2 Replies to “Body Mods”

  1. I had my ears pierced when I was 20. The reason was not one I’ve heard from others. The pressure of the clamp of regular earrings hurt my ears, and gave me a headache. For awhile I just stopped wearing earrings. Then I thought I’d try pierced earrings, and it was wonderful. They’re completely painless to wear. I don’t even know they’re there.

  2. i got my first tattoo about a year ago. (there is a picture of it on my blog somewhere.) it was something that i had been thinking about since college and i knew for several years what i wanted to get, and that idea remained consistent- so the decision as to what to put on my body was not whimsical, but actually meticulously pre-meditated.

    i got a black and white tattoo of a lilly. it was symbolic of a scripture (matthew 6) that is very meaningful to me and, ultimately it was an expression of faith, hope, and remembrance of certain things about christ- kind of like building an altar was in the OT. i guess it is kind of like a contemporary altar on my body- at least that is the way i think of my tattoo.

    i’m currently planning my second; hoping to get in around christmastime this year.

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