Obsessions to Body Modification Essay

 

 

 

The 20th century is the point in time for new plans of improvement for ones self. Millions of people nowadays are determined to improve their body size, the shape, fitness and especially with the physical appearance. It is a common conception that,” what the body looks is what we are”(Johannisson, 2007) .If you are having control over your body then for sure you are controlling your life. Giving an assured promise from the new century, it seductively says, “New year, new you”(Hopkins, 2003). Modify the body and the world will know you!

It is really easy to push fun with the popular culture, and the body work is a reasonable dominant trend that precisely reflects the time of today.  The body work is a contemporary culture to which the mind set is that the physical body goes into continues project and never-ends, to which we should indeed need to work on.  Yet, to how the community will approach the way you look is something that will give label to your name.

The body work which is known as body modification is the purposely alteration of the human body whether permanent or not for some or non- medical reasons like for spiritual, social markings or aesthetic.   It can be a decoration such as pierced ears for showing social acceptance, a religious mandate for circumcision, for corporal penalty or tongue splitting due to the rebellious act. Others do the modification for just conceptualize but distinct urge to do it without no external reason underlying from it.

Future analysts say that body modifications will pursue with the use of advanced technological ways. This can be done by employing permanently implanted gadget to augment physical and mental capabilities to be thereby called “cyborgs”(Kunst, 2001). Also, for significant number of people having heart pacemakers, cochlear implants in the brain and stimulators for electrical impulse on the case of Parkinson’s disease, is now made into reality.

Body modification in the form of body art is for the artistic or aesthetic own reasons. Yet the term is included to almost all markings that are significant, which often  displays to owner who belongs it such as to the tribe, religion and  age that blotch or remain in it which cant be “decently” be exposed into the public. Only the group in private or in secrete knows or sees it.

Adding more, long term practices type of body modification includes; Corsetry or tight lacing, cranial binding, foot binding or compression. Also, elongation of organs that are non surgical employed through prolonged stretching with the use of weights devices to cause spacing. Examples of this are the Burmese Kayan tribe exploit of stretched necks to become “giraffe-like”. And, the stretched lip piercing which could be achieved by the large plates inserted on it.

At this moment, from the apparent extreme variety of modifications for the body, simple forms came into existence. These includes; tattoos, branding, piercing, scarification, flesh suspension, splitting. Moreover, the subsistence of; plastic surgery; make up, tanning, colored contacts, waxing, hair modification, tooth modification, elective amputations, implants, body building and trans-gender surgery (Rio, 2002). Though these is not the far-reaching list, the idea that is being elaborated in here is that nearly all that  is physically performed into the body is considered a form of modification.

However, a controversy about this body modification is giving a scheme in the society. Cases such as the attempt to look alike with another race happen. The idea for Asians is to have their “epicanthal folds” be modified to supposedly be like the eyes of non-Asians and also to let the skin be dyed or sun tanning (or surgical) so it would be lightened. These transformations should be noted, since from the Tang Dynasty the double eyelid’s is considered the ideal beauty of the culture. The trend may be good for personal purpose only but the question is that will the society permit the rejection of the typecast culture?

The attempt of transforming the natural form of the body through artificial means is another controversy which often leads to disfigurement and mutilation charges. These extreme body modifications is indicative of “dysmorphic” disorder of the body, an illness of the mind or a form of vanity that is unchecked which is often expressed. The general public seems not prepared to withstand these forms of ostracism especially from those who have gone to many modification that are widely reported to the community.

Placing an emphasis to ones body is the focus among the people as pinpointed by social theorists. As an effect of major Western religions decline, the body is now transformed as the focal point of people’s attention as the central meaning of their lives (Johannisson, 2007). Suppose to be, the inside attributes that counts is alternately fixated by modern people to the physical side. Going specific, the system of self expression is preoccupied among peoples mind through the body. Whether you like it or not, to be factual, the society underrates the character and commitment of people seeing “Appearance” as the dictator. The skin carving as discernable through the flesh lives in the form of art which sets an identity. The body does not function only as a carrier of the soul and mind but is perceived as expression of “who you are and who you wish to be” (Hopkins, 2003).

In rich countries, money is splurge by most people for a lot of time and energy in shaping and figuring their priced body. It under goes garments for body-shaping such as shaving, pump-up, trimmed or cut, highlighted then colored, make it feel smooth or sanded and also squeezed.

Everybody dreams for personal transformation, and this is highly visible among celebrity. Pop icons who are known for their reinventing their figures are Michael Jackson and Madonna. Also, the celebrity Cher looks like not getting older. The sculpting of Madonna with the use of clay on herself is highly applauded yet Jackson’s theme of metamorphosis gave a clear consensus for its outlying direction(Breton, 2002). To which direction will the body modification go is always a personal decision.

Undoubtedly, there are more extreme transformations than the other. Articles from the magazines encourage us to have cautious body work in order to take shapes same as the stars. Definitely this strategy works because in today’s economy of entertainment, the celebrities are being look up by people as models for self definition(Hopkins, 2003). Illusion of social equality is sustained through the effects of celebrities. Everybody gets the idea that one could be crafted carefully into something that you want and something much better than the real you. In the popular culture of today, one can envision himself to be king or a goddess of beauty.

The hitch from this dream is that, if the beauty desired is not met by the typical person, he/she should be seized responsible for it. Once in this situation, it is somehow a duty to get castigated with the effects of getting older and send regrets. For this situation, the body which is not maintained is termed as individual failure. Therefore, it gives a generalization that if one is unattractive it goes that the laziness have caused it due to lack of self-discipline (Johannisson, 2007).

Yet, form the culture of the body consciousness; it imperatively relates that all body flaws could be reconstructed by working on it. Through modern technology this gives a pressure, it can make the body malleable to an increasingly extent that there are more things that could be done to our body to which this body technology is now accessible to the public. Modern technologies guarantee an ultimate look that could transform the physical image, an image that could conform to the desired attributes and defy the body insecurities.

The implications of this topic have been an obverse issue among feminists. Series of criticism was voice out by this group upon the misinterpretation and control of men on the bodies of female. Yet the word feminism has just become a typical division. To be rough, the feminism has already lost its position in picturing itself to be free, drastic and substitute. The success of the present women’s magazine is the proof of what I am speaking. Both feminine and feminist are the claims of these magazines which offers an attitude of glossy girl power containing actresses that are airbrushed and some popular actress in the front cover.

But we should take note that youth and beauty is not only the mainstream principle to conform to as offer of the body works. Other forms of body modification are evidence of suppose to be rejection to social caucus(Johannisson, 2007). Before, the status of becoming an outsider is usually expressed through body piercing such as inserting jewelry in body parts like into the tongue, navel, eyebrow and nose. Yet after several years, it cause a change in trend to which it became very popular among the youth of Australia. A trend of showing creativity by self-expression to mark out who they are through the pierce embedded in to the skin. Furthermore, body art drawings themes are influences of either neo-punk or neo-tribal. A tribal aesthetic are carved into their bodies to show the modern cities “new primitives”. Different forms of tribal decoration are often used with the aid of either through piercing, rings and pins, tattoos or scarification.

Enthusiast of these body art, sees this fashion as a form of return to the time of ancient ways and tribal rites for initiation. Some people claim that the body decoration is a way to promote shock, disturbance, and refusal to be conventional. Others simply claim that having their navel be pierced would make them comfortably look good.

Ever new and shocking report gives ironies for this contemporary culture to be work on as innovative manner of conformity. Therefore, just a few years ago, the body art as “alternative” made it to be conventional. If the rough and the rebellious account are known to be the domains of tattoos’ before, now many professional sports idol clearly have the piece of body art in them. Also, the body piercings negative impressions were changed into a fashion look. The shock aesthetic was almost lost after supermodel Gisel Bundchen and pop stars Holly Valance and Sophie Monk paraded a diamond-studded pierce into their navels.

However, do we deserve to give judgment to all these type of body art and to what extend do we hold to create impression to this modern culture? Distinction between the drastic way of expressing oneself and predictable sameness would really depend on the one whose doing the judgment.

Friedrich Nietzsche philosophy claims that, the attitude shows a moral discrimination which favors simple aesthetics that have deeper meanings. This follows the known saying, “the beauty is only in the eye of the beholder” (Hopkins, 2003). With this popular culture that is contemporary, breakdown of distinction is being witnessed coming from the mainstream versus alternative and oppressive over subversive. Yet, cultural detractor makes a boundary between artistic bodies as material against the body being women’s oppression spot.

However, it seems that some bodies are sensibly correct comparing to others. For example, in the world of fashion with the system of male dominion, they should have been exploited and victims by them. Yet, they could not deny the fact that it would be practical to be in that situation rather than not waking up without a cash of $10, 0000 per day in their pockets(Breton, 2002). Because of this, so far in the 1990’s, the supermodel cults are being argued that they have caused an anorexic sickness of the teenager that is going epidemic. But, others claim in the West that the real body crisis is getting obese at middle age. This issue have been foremost a feminist problem to which it is a fact that more calories are routinely consumed more rather than the needs of the body. A dilemma requiring feminist actions.

A brilliant topic for the body was built as a career by Naomi Wolf. This was done through “politicizing”. Ironically speaking, her works have put her to be top famous critic of all body beautiful(Hopkins, 2003). Avoiding the “beauty myth” was her warnings yet in return, her sensational head shots are her offerings to the inside cover of the book. She then asserts that wrapping the body with high moral and mind denigration would give a predicament that it would leak and later oppose it.

Her teachings and practices are concentrated to America. Yet from the Australians scholars, they see the body work as somehow activities of “other” non-educated people do. It is basically considered shameful to utilize the body for communal mobility to the exception of course if at peak of popularity at the profession of sports wherein the national treasure is the body.

Wolf including the civic intellectuals can meet the expense for their body to be precious. Yet, nearly all need to sell their bodies in any way for the purpose of receiving income to be used for living. To this abrupt consciousness of the body world, obsession to clothes and make-ups, and going to exercises are frequently regarded as investments that are necessary needed.

The school in politics of feminist regards Wolf as the most successful critique through her predicament of the ideal female body that is free and natural. Traditional feminism utters that the beauty technologies are certainly oppressive and definitely dangerous to which the woman who engage with it are the mindless victims. Nevertheless, Wolf does not tackle on the profit made by the person pushing this body beautiful since this is at the expense of the other women. And, playing with the appearance is not acknowledged by Wolf because her assertion is that this could not be a basis of strength, pleasure or even creativity.  Things like this should not be a topic to be discussed since she feels embarrassed with this topic.

Some bodies imply that theirs are so pure, of natural and accurate than others which give a very annoying point of view.  So, the body politics school created a stereotype dictating its own principles. Through this, the less secured are often noted to thin women. They are the ones who are less authentic and unprivileged of worthiness. For those who employ to the radical technology of beautification, women are highly criticized by the feminists as nature breaker upon following the corrupting ideals of the media.

The feeling to compel the “yes” and “no” of the known body’s image is somehow what feminist is trying to separate. They are taking in personally the body politics and go sturdy if there are signs of dispute. The feminist group could endure discussing pornography, sex lessons and subjects about sado-masochism yet if body image is slipped in the tongue for sure, you will get anxious in front of them. Issues on oppressive and beauty standards could be a good question but mentioning body work offer of power would let them curse you.

The term suckers, the sell-outs or even sex objects are supposedly entitled to women who trade their body images. Conversely, the multimedia artist Orlan who is a French, made a different position in the body image view through her “feminist statement” upon undergoing a far-reaching plastic surgeries(Hopkins, 2003). Orlan went into 10 fascinating cosmetic operations for the sake of body art which was under the craft of a female surgeon. Her metamorphosis comparing to other body arts is continues and making a disturbing shock.

Using the body modifications as part of the performance for the television network, she is reading a psychoanalytic text in French in a lying position over the operating table. Then, the silicone implants are being inserted while the face of Orlan is reorganized so that this would resemble a complex feature of the feminine. The set up image looks familiar to renowned artworks. For common viewers this view may plainly seem as pathological, but she claims the act as prophecy of the future of showing that our body will soon change easily.

Many might see her as uneducated fool yet people misunderstood Orlan since she knows a lot of the theory of the French as well as the feminist call. Her name made it a subject for many concerns in TV shows and mass media, yet she still rightly claims that she is a celebrity to her own perception. Similar to the celebrities of the postmodern, she endowed with a personal critique upon her reinvention that happened. The body image performance is described by her as an analysis and question of the common beauty to which the process of liposuction and with the face lift is her radical expression.

Orlan symbols an obstinate image of our method in style and fashion which established a way to which the body could costume with. She endowed a remarkable learning of ideas to how the feminism has been using. At certain point, Orlan had become a fantastic caricature of her re-modeling into woman. A total transformation is the ultimate goal for her, going to a total extreme level from her make-over.

So then many criticisms ascend, yet is her logic wrong or right?  This attitude could be frightening or non- natural, but would it be in the same circumstances to other frequent body work. The common routine of shaving, body piercing or even plucking is known to be non-natural. In same way, the pills for birth control is something non-natural to which it gave a new wisdom for freedom and better   handling of women’s lives.

Her query of the natural body is something she negates much.  She could not withstand nature as sole dictator to her image and the life she would encounter and live with. Through this theory, she corrects the classical mantras of the feminist and made her own principle saying that, the way a person looks physically is not destinies choice.  Yet if people choose the way feminist think, well so far, everyone is open on it. Everyone is free to accept to where the body intends to follow whether to a creative or conformist body work.

She embodied standards which made fissure to the frame of nature. To whatever side people will stand, the human body is a topic for negotiations, different handling and prone to mutations. In cinemas, super-bodies that are artificially made are making roles in science fiction movies such as the Robocop, the Terminator, A.I and Millennium Man(Rio, 2002). The “predicament” is that through science fiction, the images come into reality, starting form the use of limbs that are robotic and the sequence of face lifting occurring now. Different body parts can be manipulated with the use of high technology.

To what next would happen is something to guess with. It is hypocritical to complain about the unnatural beauty standards obliged and taken by the society since there are a lot of unnatural things were being done to our bodies.  These oppressive ideas that are being manipulated are intended to gain the full appearance wanted and have the purpose of using the body for relaying messages to indicate social status and power.

Furthermore, different artist have been using the body in the field of painting and carving. The body is employed as main medium of expression in dance and theatre plays(Evans, 1989). It has been the subject matter of photography and in films which was inspired by the change in perception of the body that is evident to the culture nowadays. To every “live show” that is being performed is in the order of body arts. Taking figure of this body art for performance was started by artists; Vito Acconci, and Chris Burden and Carolee Schneeman.

Citing an example of a film using body transformations is from Claire Denis work entitled “From Ritual to Play”(Wilson, 2002). The story is a version of modern cinema which is sensual and aims the spectators to be seduced in the dominion of sensation. The performance in the film was engraved into three related discursive involvedness. First, the natural styles of performance from the military, the ritual, and the body. Second, the drama involved in showing the private repulsion and seduction scenes among the two French legionnaires. And the third part is “purely performative and meta-narrative plane” (Wilson, 2002). In here, the film turns into overtly exhibitionistic (from the dances and other body performance) presenting it directly to the audience.

Hence, the director of the film gives a diverse impact to the public from the transformation of the ritualized, and same daily routine habits into a sensual and logical potentials which gave an idea to dump the dependence to common standards imposed by society. Many might see it as a norm but it is an expression of the director using body performance to appreciate body as an art and not as against to the ideals of the feminist group.

There are other forms of body modifications used by live artist which could be directly viewed in Stages Street or even at the house via the T.V.’s   such as the plays of Russian Roulette in the studio, or viewing and get amazed with a man suspended in a Perspex box denied for food for several days. This work of artist with the help of their body modified in this 20th century must still identify its own boundaries and know if it will cause a taboo in the society. This could either be a cause of acceptance or oppose of the habitual ways of dealing, analyzing or sensing questions of personality.

Body modifications are till now so intriguing issue among the feminist and the radicals. Yet to whatever extend the subject is going it is ones personal decision to what   he/she intends to do with his/her body. Everybody knows that no one is perfect, as everybody mentions when a person commits a fault or any form of problem appear, yet the limitation is not confined with that concept. To whatever means, natural or radical modification, there’s a lot of things do to with ones life to gain the ultimate desire for fulfillment. So it is better to get used with the idea of body modification knowing what its consequences to the body are.

References

Breton, D. L. (2002). Contemporary obsolescence of the body [Electronic Version]. Retrieved August 8, 2007 from http://www.body-art.net/v5.0/Kortext/DLBtxt3us.html

 

Evans, G. (1989). ART ALIENATED:An Essay on the Decline of Participatory-Art [Electronic Version]. Retrieved August 8, 2007 from http://home.att.net/~evanslee/art_alie.pdf.

 

Hopkins, S. (2003). Nobody’s Perfect [Electronic Version]. Retrieved August 8, 2007 from http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/01/31/1043804516567.html

;

Johannisson, K. (2007). The psycho-social condition [Electronic Version]. Retrieved August 8, 2007 from http://www.axess.se/english/2005/08/essay_johannisson.php

;

Kunst, B. (2001). Cyber and my body – Is there a [email protected] without the body? [Electronic Version]. Retrieved August 8, 2007 from http://www.cfront.org/cf01/newspaper/html/np06-cyberbody.html.

;

Rio, E. d. (2002). Body Modification: Changing Bodies, Changing Selves

CONFERENCE HANDBOOK [Electronic Version]. Retrieved August 8, 2007 from http://www.ccs.mq.edu.au/oldbodmod/bodmod_abstracts.pdf

;

Wilson, S. (2002). Excerpts from the book Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology [Electronic Version]. Retrieved August 8, 2007 from http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~swilson/papers/wilson.body.infoarts.html.

;

;

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *