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Scarification in progress

Body modification (or body alteration) is the deliberate altering of the human anatomy or phenotype.[1] It is often done for aesthetics, sexual enhancement, rites of passage, religious beliefs, to display group membership or affiliation, to create body art, for shock value, and as self-expression, among other reasons.[1][2] In its most broad definition it includes plastic surgery, socially acceptable decoration (e.g., common ear piercing in many societies), and religious rites of passage (e.g., circumcision in a number of cultures), as well as the modern primitive movement.

Explicit ornaments[edit]

Surgical augmentation[edit]

In contrast to the explicit ornaments, the following procedures are primarily not meant to be exposed per se, but rather function to augment another part of the body, like the skin in a subdermal implant.

Removal or split[edit]

Female genital cutting:

Male genital cutting:

Nipple cutting:

  • Nipple removal[10]
  • Nipple splitting[11]

Nullification involves the voluntary removal of body parts. Body parts that are commonly removed by those practicing body nullification are: penis, testicles, clitoris, labia and nipples. Sometimes people who desire a nullification may be diagnosed with body integrity identity disorder or apotemnophilia.[12]

Tongue cutting:

Applying long-term force[edit]

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
  • Breast ironing - Pressing (sometimes with a heated object) the breasts of a pubescent female to prevent their growth.
  • Foot binding - compression of the feet of girls to modify them for aesthetic reasons
  • Anal stretching[14]
  • Jelqing - penis enlargement
  • 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.
    • Labia elongation



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 frequently viewed as symptomatic of body dysmorphic disorder, other mental illnesses, or as an expression of unchecked vanity.[19] Unlicensed surgery performed outside of a medical environment can often be life-threatening, and is illegal in most countries and states.

"Disfigurement" and "mutilation" (regardless of any appreciation this always applies objectively whenever a bodily function is gravely diminished or lost) 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 proscribed modifications to the genitals, such as male circumcision, female circumcision, castration,[citation needed] and surgeries performed to conform the genitals of individuals with intersex conditions to those of typical males or females.[20]

Individuals known for extensive body modification[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_modification — Please support Wikipedia.
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5420 news items

Times Record
Sun, 18 Jan 2015 04:33:45 -0800

Ten years ago, one local woman thought tattoos were for gang members only, until she noticed many of her close friends were open to the form of permanent body art. Today, that woman is one of many employees with tattoos and piercings who work in area ...
The Awl
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 08:52:13 -0800

A few weeks ago, my friend Jenna and I met up to get various parts of our heads pierced. She got a glittery rose-gold hoop put in her septum, very chic, and I got a gold hoop through the conch of my left ear. A new piercing, for the uninitiated, makes ...

Daily Beast

Daily Beast
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 02:41:15 -0800

The amount of piercings I had that I don't even have scars from—because my Dad took them out so quickly—is remarkable. I was trying to be really into body modification but was being prevented at every turn, so the tattoo was exciting.” Our talk turns ...

Beyond Chron

Beyond Chron
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 04:00:00 -0800

Curiosity about exploring the possibilities of the human form underlies the body modification craze. Richarz and Zimmerman argue no such primal motivation supports labiaplasty. Interviewee medical historian Dr. Marion Hulverscheidt finds no cases in ...
Lexology (registration)
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 09:17:39 -0800

These types of claims have become more extreme over the years as courts have even reviewed the religious assertions of plaintiffs claiming that body piercings and tattoos are part of their religious beliefs in the Church of Body Modification ...

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Sat, 24 Jan 2015 20:52:30 -0800

The article cites a 2001 case in which a Costco employee based her argument that her eyebrow piercing was part of her membership in the Church of Body Modification. In that case, courts ruled there was no evidence that the church required wearing ...

Daily Beast

Daily Beast
Mon, 26 Jan 2015 04:28:59 -0800

The amount of piercings I had that I don't even have scars from—because my Dad took them out so quickly—is remarkable. I was trying to be really into body modification but was being prevented at every turn, so the tattoo was exciting.” Our talk turns ...

MetroNews Canada

MetroNews Canada
Fri, 12 Dec 2014 15:33:37 -0800

Warning: Story includes graphic images of body modification. A Vancouver body-modification artist is attempting to break the Guinness World Record for most surgical needle piercings in one session. Russ Foxx says he hopes to make history Sunday by ...

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