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Tattoos And Body Piercing Essay

2696 words - 11 pages

Tattooing and Piercing: The Body as a Site for Performing the SelfMany people view the human body as an apartment rental rather than a house: They have the use of it during the brief season of their tenancy, but most are loath to initiate any permanent modifications beyond those dictated by nature and necessity. The tattoo and body piercing have long held negative connotations and is even forbidden in the Old Testament. In Leviticus 19:28 it says "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead nor print any marks upon you. I am the Lord." Though many view these forms of body art as sin and reduce it to body mutilation, others feel that it is merely a historical footnote about the cultural identity of this era. The debates concerning body modification and self-mutilation often suggest that individuals who choose to decorate their bodies through tattooing and piercing are driven by harmful impulses that they cannot understand and do not control. Though the desire to mark the body does emanate from the inner sense of self, it cannot be read as ideographically as a message of harm of the individual self. The human body is a canvass for the expression of cultural ideas of men and women throughout time and around the world. Arguments of the positive or negative connotations of tattooing and piercing do not often justify or debase body modifications but only indicate a breakdown between morality and aesthetics.The creatively pierced and multiply tattooed individuals of Western culture probably don't realize it-and neither, undoubtedly, do their unsettled parents, neighbors and teachers-but they belong to a tradition as old as recorded history-probably much older. Ever since our Neolithic ancestors invented art tens of thousands of years ago, humans have been painting, sculpting and otherwise decorating the human body: is just the nearest and most intimate canvas. Body modification is a personal choice just like makeup and clothing. Some choose to be pierced or inked for aesthetic purposes, spiritual incentives, erotic reasons, excitement, or a variety of other personal motives. The validity of each purpose is equal. For some it is for attention or to make a political statement. For others it is like a sacred ritual. Many are searching for meaning and trying to find something that is true and worthwhile.For centuries body art such as tattoos and piercings have been practiced all over the world in almost every culture. Both practices have different meanings and multiple levels from religious rites to pure decoration. Often times throughout the history of western culture, these practices have been shunned and outcast as the marks of Satan. In the last few centuries however, these fallacies have subsided to the thoughts of mere loathing of any permanent defacing of a person's body. It has been argued that body art is no more than just attention seeking self-mutilation, in which only heathens and criminals engage. These often painful practices...

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