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March 26, 2012
Hey there! My name is Gabrielle. I'm a student at California Baptist University. My major is Anthropology and Psychology. I am absolutely in love with body modification! Right now I'm doing a paper on Body Modification and the difference between modification and mutalation.
My questions is what in your opinions are the differences between mutalation and modification? Where do we need to draw the line? What role do ethics play in modification of one's body? To those in the business of modification, how do you feel knowing you may be causing an other humanbeing pain? How do you feel knowing this will have an impact on their life for the rest of their life? To those who have participated in modification, how have your modifications affected your life, positivly and negitively? How much is too much? When it comes to tattooing what are your personal rules as to when, where, how long in between, why and what you get put on your body? What would your advice be to young people looking to get their first tattoo/piercing/brand/scarification? What is 'modification' and why do you think everyday cosmetic procedures(breast implants, lyposuction, dental implants, teeth whitening, braces,ect) are not generally included in that group by the average american?
Thanks to those of you who respond! I look forwart to reading your thoughts!!
August 13, 2011
I have always viewed the difference between body modification and body mutilation as a matter of motivation. Is the motivation to change one's body based on a foundation of posativity or negativity? If the former, I feel it falls firmly within the modification category and if the latter I believe it to fall under the mutilation category.
Very rarely can one tell if something is modification or mutilation without actually knowing the reasons behind the changes made. One person's cutting might be a ritual modification while another's might be an expression of self-hatred. One, if done safely, is something healthy and empowering while the other is something unhealthy and a testament to a loss of control or a desperate attempt to regain control.
I do consider mainstream changes to one's body such as breast implants to be body modification just as surely as any tattoo or piercing is. To me, body modification is taking control of one's body and owning it. Anything, mainstream or not, to that effect and with the likely result of creating a permanent change to one's body I consider to fall under the category of body modification.
Though this may not all come out phrased simply as my opinion, it is only that.
The difference between modification and mutilation:
As Vampy said, it's largely about motivations, but when someone chooses to do something for personal fulfillment they generally seek out someone who is knowledgeable and experienced to do it for them safely. I assume mutilation is almost always done to one's self, and done in secret, with no measures taken to ensure safety in any way.
Where to draw the line:
The line is already drawn. It is your skin. Everything that happens to it and within it is your business, and no one else's. YOU own your body. What you do with it is between you and the divine. It's up to you to decide what is right in this regard.
In the extreme interpretation, this means that people have the right to cut off their own legs, or commit suicide. While I don't support such actions, I don't see how it's my business to do anything more than try to talk the person out of it and persuade them to seek counseling.
The ethics of body modification:
The central pillar of my philosophy is Respect. Respect for one's self, and for others. A modification should only be performed with sterile tools in a sterile environment by a trained and experienced professional, and proper aftercare procedures must be followed strictly. Any deviation from this is a risk and could lead to serious infections or disease. Anyone performing a modification who is not a trained professional is acting well beyond the boundaries ethics. Ignorance is the largest risk factor.
How I feel knowing I will be causing someone pain:
Though I never personally modified anyone, I apprenticed as a piercer and brander, and assisted in many procedures. I always took the opportunity to educate people on a few simple techniques to help minimize the pain. I also tried to explain how these techniques help to enhance one's self-discipline, and how they can be used to control one's temper, to stay calm and reasonable in virtually any situation. I always tried to make it an experience of personal growth for the client, even if they saw no spiritual side to their modifications.
How I feel about the impact it has on a person's life:
The impact a modification has on a person's life varies with how they view their modification. As long as the client was happy with what they received, I was happy, even if it was just something they wanted to do to 'fit in'. However, I always felt more fulfilled when helping someone who saw a deeper meaning to their modification, whether it was spiritual for them or not, modifying one's body for a deeply personal reason is a step toward feeling better; more complete. Anything I can do to help others along that path makes me feel very good about my impact on their lives, whether it has to do with body modification or not.
The effect my mods have had on my life:
Positive: Aesthetically, I am much more satisfied with the way I look today than I was before receiving the modifications I have. Also, many of my mods have a philosophical aspect to them, expressing some aspect of my beliefs and values. Having these ideas tattooed or burned into my skin makes me feel good about my level of commitment to these ideas. Not because others can see my commitment, but because I can see it, and somehow it makes me feel more proud of myself.
Another major positive effect is the enhancement of my own self-discipline and my ability to meditate. If you're in the right state of mind, tolerating great pain unites the mind, body, and soul in a way that is difficult to describe, but it can be deeply fulfilling on a spiritual level. It has been a wonderful source of personal growth for me.
Negative: I started getting tattooed before I began to see body modification as something to be taken seriously; as a form of self-expression. As a result, I've got two tattoos I intend to remove because they are completely meaningless, and I've got another tattoo I intend to expand so that the completed design will carry meaning. Tattoo removal is about ten times more expensive than tattoo application, so that's a negative.
The only other negative I've experienced (by far the largest) is prejudice. Once I began getting visible modifications I noticed a difference in the way people treated me. Dirty looks. Women who would clutch their purses or their children tight when they saw me. That sort of thing.
Once, when trying to make a cash withdrawal from a checking account, I told the lady I wanted to make a withdrawal and she shoved a very large pile of cash at me and said, "Take it!"
This pile was obviously far more than I had in my account, and I hadn't yet given her my bank card and ID. I told her I wasn't touching that cash, and that I just wanted to make a withdrawal from my account. She accused me again of trying to rob the place despite the fact that I was carrying no weapons of any kind. The manager showed up and I explained the situation. He said he was going to close my account and refuse service. I had to threaten legal action for religious discrimination before I could make this simple transaction.
And the worst examples of prejudice I've experienced…no kidding, I have actually had to defend myself from assault and attempted murder on many, many occasions. The only reason I am alive to tell you this is because I happen to be a damned good fighter.
You may ask, with all this opposition, is it really worth being modified? HELL YES it is. Life is nothing without freedom. I would rather fight and die for my freedom, and that of everyone else for that matter, than live as a slave to the demands of the intolerant.
How much is too much? That's for each of us to decide on our own.
When it comes to tattoos…
When: When I can afford it, and when I have something in mind that is personally significant.
Where: Placement on the body is a critical part of the tattoo. From an aesthetic point of view, the lines of the tattoo must flow with the lines of the body, or even a great design will look out of place. Also, a couple areas of the body lend themselves well to lettering. A word or phrase across the belly is commonly a way of summarizing one's self or one's philosophy in some way, whereas lettering across the knuckles is often a way of sending a message to others.
How long in between: Enough time to heal properly. There is a limit on how much ink a person's system can handle at one time before experiencing ink poisoning, but this limit is fairly high for most people, so the real limits in this department tend to be related to endurance, finances, and healing time.
Why and what: For me, I'm sick of my meaningless tattoos, so it must be something that is carries some personal meaning for me. If not, I would never consider it.
My advise for those seeking their first modification: If it's not a piercing, make sure it's something that means something to you. It's easy enough to remove a piece of jewelry and ignore the small scar, but tattoos, scarifications, and brands are all quite permanent, or very difficult to remove. You'll likely have it for the rest of your life, so make sure it isn't just something that looks cool or pretty.
Also, I advise against getting the name of a lover, even a spouse, tattooed or otherwise written on your body. Tattoos tend to outlast relationships by quite a bit. However, names and faces of family members are totally cool. Families tend to outlast tattoos.
When looking for an artist, make sure it's someone who works in an environment that smells and looks clean and orderly. Also, take a good close look through their portfolio to make sure you like their artistic style. Beware of portfolios that are full of nothing but blurry pictures. And if possible, look at some of their work first-hand. Hang out long enough to see a freshly completed piece so you can take a very close look at the details of the tattoo. Unless an artist has a lot of 8x10 glossy photos in their portfolio, it's hard to see fine detail, even in the clearest pictures.
Also, watch the artist work. They should be just as careful about where their hands go and what they touch while performing a modification of any kind as a surgeon would be when performing surgery. I once saw an artist stop in the middle of a tattoo to change the song on his MP3 player. He did not take of his gloves first, and he did not wash his hands and change his gloves after. That's a serious risk. If the artist does not take sterile practices seriously, it doesn't matter how good their work looks.
What modification is:
I consider any change to a person's body to be a body modification. Even something as simple as shaving off your body hair, or perhaps even dying or cutting one's hair.
Why these things are not commonly recognized as body modifications:
A lack of understanding, perhaps, or a desire to fool one's self into believing that they are not 'violating' the sanctity of their temple with their actions. Obviously we in the Church of Body Modification don't see it as a violation, but rather, we tend to see it as honoring or even enhancing the sanctity of our bodies.
Good luck with your paper.
Hi Gabrielle, welcome to the forum! Out of interest are you a CoBM member? (Not that it matters really!).
That's a lot of questions, including some biggies! What is your essay question?
Anyway, here's a few thoughts….
I agree with vampyremage regards the difference between modification and mutilation, as the terms each carry a implication about intent, or at least a judgement about this. I also think mutilation can be a by product of another intent or person's actions, such as an accident, cultural rite, assault, cutting for emotional release etc (rather than simply self hatred). I suppose the recipients view of the harm/injury is important about whether it counts.
Ethics can apply in many ways,notably regards autonomy and self determination. This can be weighed against non-maleficence when another does the modification, as you note this causes physical harm. The lines may blur when the modifier thinks the modified is making a poor judgement. For example facial tattoos or dangerous procedures. Artists make such ethical judgments all the time. I have found this is pretty individual. Some will make the judgement that if you ask it's your right, others will draw the line at a specific place.
Rouslan, who did the infamous 57 stars tattoo on a 18 year old's face, is an intelligent articulate guy would places full autonomy on the customer to make a good or bad decision.
When i have pierced or suspended another (i'm not a pro) i am happy that i have gained informed consent, and ensure the client is aware of risks etc. Their pain does not phase me, although i ensure i'm capable of not making this more than necessary. They know it'll hurt, and consent. Fine by me. I think i'd feel bad if it went badly, but as long as we're aware of the risks, and i had done everything i could to ensure it didn't, i think i'd sleep ok.
For my own rules about getting a modification are that i consider it well, consider consequences, look into the pros and cons, educate myself about how it should be done safely, and generally wait to be sure it's something i want. I'd advise anyone to do the same. Those who regret modification seem to have not educated themselves first, and to have rushed into the decision. I'd advised anyone to do as i do, and take their time.
Sasquatch – You're story about the bank is awful! I've been lucky enough not to have encountered discrimination on that level. Perhaps i could have had fights i suppose, but i'm very good at difusing such situations.
The negatives for me have been discrimination, dirty looks etc, and the fact that it may impede my career (though that's hard to tell). It's been hard work integrating it with my career, which would not have been an issue if i wasn't modified. I get asked questions a lot and stared at, which i can live with, but i feel for my wife who seems to feel it more than me. It also upsets my Mum, which can be tough. It can put a strain on relationships, and this has taken a lot of hard work too.
The positives massively outweigh all this. I gain fulfillment, identity, inner strength, know i can face my fears, and have strengthened my relationship with the divine. I know more about myself than i ever have, and this self development has made me a better person.
January 24, 2012
let me ask you the same questions since you looooveee modification, reporter girl.
when do you think is too much.
where do you draw the line.
why do you love modification.
no offense inteded…if this is your first post, did you sign up just for a school report?
i'm not trying to be rude, i'm sorry if it sounds that way. just curious and don't know how else to word it.
March 26, 2012
Indi- haha none taken, It's pretty hard to offend me . To be quite honest I used to be very much against body modification outside the mainstream[hair dying, teeth whitening, cosmetic surgery...] but when I was about 15 I watched a national geographic documentary on tattoos and absolutely fell in love. Tattooing has an interesting history in each culture. They are beautiful to me as are all other modifications. Yes, this is my first post. I'm not reporting really just trying to get info for an essay in my english class. But I am concidering joining the Church but I'd like to learn a little more about what is believed as far as faith goes first. As far as what I think is too much and where I draw the line, its a personal choice. I can't tell another person what to do or not to do to their body. I can only offer my humble opinion and pray they dont regret whatever decision they've made. :]
Oakbear- There really wasnt much of a question. :] My professor asked us for a 3-5 page essay on a topic of our choice. Eventually I'd like to be an expert on body modification and religion.
SaQuatch8595- The bank situation is terrible. I've yet to deal with any real discrimination. Just dirty looks from women who I've known growing up who dont approve of my tats[i only have 2 so far].
Thanks for all your imput everyone :] it's extremly helpful and very encouraging. I plan on posting the essay as soon as it's complete and I'd definately like your imput on that as well. So far I have only part of the intro done but I'm still working on research.
Again, I really appriciate all your imput!
I appreciate the compassion in regards to my story about the bank, but I assure you, being attacked and nearly killed is a hell of a lot worse. I was not exaggerating.
If all I ever had to do was assert myself I could happily do that to the end of my days and I would never lose sleep over it, but for a while I was so stressed about the confrontations I could hardly sleep, and I believe I was experiencing symptoms of PTSD. Being in a situation where you know without a doubt in your mind that you are about to die really screws with your head.
It's been nearly a year since I was last attacked, and so the symptoms have faded, but I honestly believe it's only a matter of time before some fool tries again.
So, please be careful out there folks. Christianity teaches peace, but some Christians only focus on the book of Revelations, which talks about how Jesus and his army of saints are going to cleanse the world of non-believers. There are a good many people out there who believe they are the saints. Especially Mormons.
March 26, 2012
Thank you also for pointing that out about Christianity. I go to a Christian University and I am a Strong believer however I believe christians often times don't buy into their own message of love an acceptance which is why I was so against the church an religion in the past. They all seemed like hypocrites. Partially the purpose of writing my paper on this(originally my topic was abortion) is to help others understand and view body modification for what it is and not just what our prejudices have shaped our understanding of it to be. My pastor at my church has asked me to give him some of my papers just to see and I usually post them on my blog and Facebook just to get imput from others. There are many people I know who have told me I cant be a christian, I cant truely love follow and obey God if I participate in any kind of body modification because they think everything to do with body modification is of the devil and that is simply not true.
I dont know what faith, if any, you all practice and I dont care. I dont want to shove my faith in your face and say your wrong. I applaud each of you for standing by your beliefs because in this world it seems to me not many people will anymore. I know I don't know any of you but I hope you don't mind me praying for you[ I know some who do get offended by that].
February 27, 2012
The difference between modification and mutilation is intent. I think we can all agree on that one. Where we draw the line, I'm not sure we can. It's a personal boundary, I think. While someone might feel more complete without their right arm, I'm not one of those.
Most of the time, my modifications don't matter much. Only when looking for a job, applying for a loan, etc., does it come up. I would say in those instances, it's fairly negative impact on my life. Employers have turned me down, as well as a landlord for an apartment. But, life goes on. Don't sweat the small-minded stuff. No use for that.
My decisions of modification are taken into consideration a long time. Most of the time, I think about it for months before ever thinking about getting it. There are a few exceptions, of course. I've had the impulse tattoo/piercing before. My advice to anyone thinking about getting their first modification is to give it some thought. Make sure it's something you want, and do the research necessary to make sure you're not getting into some shop with bad sterilization or technique.
February 27, 2012
I have always respected the beliefs of others, and I happily accept your prayers. I have only recently decided that Buddhism and Kung Fu is the path for me, but I believe that everyone must choose their own path based on what feels most correct to them.
As long as a person believes in doing no harm to others, and they hold to a strong set of basic ethical rules (don't kill, don't steal, don't rape, be honest, etc.) I have no problem with anything they do in life, or anything they believe about the next life. People who fit this simple definition are on a path that will help themselves by lifting up others. This does not require that those other people should be on the exact same path.
As I see it, the biggest problem with some modern Christians is that they have never really learned the basics of their own faith. "Judge not, lest ye be judged," for example. The lesson in those words is that no one but God knows the whole story of a person's actions, thoughts, feelings, and motivations. Therefore only God can judge that person. Anyone who attempts to judge another person is trying to do God's job. I'm not entirely sure this fits the technical definition of blasphemy, but it sure sounds that way to me.
There is an expression, "The devil's greatest trick was convincing the world that he doesn't exist."
I disagree. I say, "The devil's greatest trick was convincing the world that he is God."
What I mean by this is simple. They say, "God is Love." However, I have met many Christians who tell me that Love and Hate are the same thing. They seem to believe that God hates many people on earth because they are sinners, and so they must use their hate against these people.
This is an obvious corruption of Christian teachings. Love and hate are opposites, so if God is Love, then Satan is Hate.
More people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason. Throughout history people have used their faith in God as a reason to believe that they are better, more righteous, and more deserving of life than those who do not share their faith. This corruption of faith has lead to more evil in this world than I want to imagine. Unfortunately, one does not need to imagine it. Google the phrase "honor rape" and see what you find.
Love, compassion, sympathy, kindness, respect…these are things that guide us along a path of enlightenment, happiness, and peace. You could say these feelings are how God speaks to us.
Hate, jealousy, selfishness, anger, greed…these are things that guide us along a path of ignorance, destruction, chaos, and suffering. You could say these feelings are how Satan speaks to us.
The difference should be obvious, but the combination of hatred and ego encourages us to make excuses. Some people ignore everything in the Bible and focus only on the book of Revelations and passages such as, "an eye for an eye." However, anyone who knows the stories of the life of Jesus knows that this is not how Jesus lived his life. And if you would like to call yourself a Christian, you must live your life the way Jesus lived His.
I need to stop, or I'll wind up writing a short novel on the subject here in this post. I suppose I've made my point.
October 3, 2011
you said they told you that you cant be a christian if you have mods but if you look at history early christians would peirce there ears as a sine of faith witch was spawned from the fact that they used to pierce the ears of slaves and then the christians stole this practice to show that they where slaves to christ so saying you cant do that is just ignorance
February 8, 2012
i guess i would have to agree with the majority and say that modification vs mutilation is a concept of intention/motive… as a sufferer of a mental illness (borderline personality disorder) the line is and well can be blurry… there is in fact a mental illness… which i cannot think of the name of off the top of my head.. where people actually feel the need to remove limbs and body parts to feel well normal… i myself view this as mutilation… the deliberate intent of harmfully harming oneself for fulfillment… but there in lies the contradiction… is modification not that same concept…. its really a question of perspective… not to say that there is a right or wrong explanation for your question… but it just seems more a question of personality and mindset… as far as ethics go this is my opinion… when i was a cutter, or when i was really into psychadelics i did in no way shape or for attempt to cause harm to anyone or alterations to anyone other than myself… as far as mutilation goes i think the only ethics about it is when no physical harm is caused to others… as for modification i think its up to the modifier to determine that… if the piercer/tattooer does not feel confident and competent enough to perform a task as does it anyway… that is unethical…. sorry if it seems like i rambled i do that a lot… but i hope i was able to provide some information that will be beneficial to your inquisitions….
I find different established faiths approaches to modification very interesting. Patriarchal monotheistic religions, especially those with tribal roots, have sometimes demonised modification as this was practiced by rival groups at the time the religion formed.
There is also a theogical argument that God created 'man' in his image, and thus we are perfect, and to change ourselves defies God. My own feeling is that the logical extension of such an argument questions taking any action, for example treating an illness, as contrary to 'God's plan'. Such an argument is also rarely given regards cutting hair, wearing makeup or clothes etc. As such there are few religions which explicitly prohibit modification, although culturally this may have evolved as an expectation.
On another topic raised here, voluntary amputation of a limb, without medical need, may be associated with body dismorphia, and would be an extreme where the lines may blur. Despite this i feel this could still be a modification. After all the intention may not be to harm, or for reasons of a negative self image. One would have to make a difficult decision about informed consent though.
SasQuatch – Sorry if you feel people minimised your report of someone attempting to kill you because of your modifications. I suppose as there was little detail it was hard to judge whether i was literal. I'd be interested in hearing more if you'd like to share.
April 3, 2012
This seemed like an excellent post to comment on for my first one. So many questions. The one that stuck out to the most is "as a modifier how do you feel knowing you will cuasing someone else pain?" First let me start by saying that I am a professional body piercer. I have over 8 years in this field. When I perform a piercing on one of my clients I do not view the sensation they feel as pain. I view it as a transformation, understanding, a feeling. The slight sensation they feel is an inlet to their own realization, whether they know it or not. Even the girl who comes to me and wants a navel ring because every one on the cheer leading squad has one has used the entire experience as a way to define herself. She may not typically view as a spiritual awakening, but it still very much is. The pain alerts her of the existence of her body, the ornament serves as a constant reminder, the cleaning and after care gives her an attachment or responsibility. All those makes her more aware of her body, and the limitations of her body. I allows her to see just how far she can push herself, and her body becoming more in tune with it, taking control of herself, her body. And a a conclusion I would just like to say that the brain chemistry is exactly the same whether we receive pain or pleasure ,it is all in the way that we perceive those messages our Brian sends.
April 3, 2012
So I was just made a member today
March 2, 2011
Oakbear, I just wanted to comment and share that Sikhs, practitioners of Sikhism are a group that does not cut their hair, nor their beards, nor any hair on their body for the reasoning being that "God" gave it to us for a reason and that we were born with this natural growth and should embrace it.
April 3, 2012
I think the paper you are writing would be fun to write! While I don't have an answer for every question you asked, I believe that people themselves need to know when enough is enough. It is their choice to draw the line. I wouldn't want a stranger to try and set boundaries for me when it comes to body modification, thus I don't have the right to try and set boundaries for others. I have gauged my ears, have multiple body peircings, a tattoo and love every minute of it! I plan on getting some more tattoos, and probably one more peircing and I am very excited for it to happen. I believe God made me the way I am for a reason, but as an individual I have the choice to modify my body as I see fit. Any thing you do to your body is in some way a form of body modification. Whether it be as simple as plucking your eyebrows, dying and cutting your hair, simple peircings or to a higher level like plastic surgery, branding or scarrification, or tattoos. I hope my thoughts are helpful!
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