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Shame in Vanity
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January 9, 2012
1:38 am
vampyremage
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I recently had a discussion with someone about the motivations for body modification and my motivations in particular.  The discussion stemmed from a comment I had made regarding the fact that empoyers should not be permitted to discriminate in hiring someone with visible mods unless, for some reason, the modifications somehow imparied the individual's ability to work saidjob.  She disagreed with me, being of the impression that it is perfectly reasonable to discriminate based upon unnatural changes (her words more or less) made to the body.  The reason, she stated, was because body modification was nothing more than "purely vanity".  Of course I disagreed with that as I am sure many here would.

 

The discussion, however, led my thoughts into a different direction and that direction is, why is vanity considered such a negative?  Why should we not love our own bodies and be proud of our own bodies?  One of the things that my continueing journey of body modification has taught me is that my body is a part of who I am just as surely as my mind is.  Each are equally important and each need to be nurtured and respected in their own way.  Just as I choose to modify my mind by learning about different things, so to do I choose to modify my body by physical means.

 

Yes, I am proud of my body.  I am proud of the changes that I have made and continue to make to myself.  It is not considered a negative to be proud of carreer accomplishments or academic accomplishments; accomplishments of the mind, so why should it be considered negative to be proud of accomplishments of the body?  I am proud both of who I am on the inside and what I am becoming on the outside and I feel absolutely no shame in saying so. 

 

In many ways it seems as if we are taught to be ashamed of our bodies.  If we are considered overweight or scrawny, if we are considered too short or have crooked features then we are taught to be ashamed of that.  On the flip side, however, if we match society's ideals of beauty we are likewise taught that we shoudln't be proud of that, to be proud of our physical bodies is to be vain and, of course, no one wants to be seen as vain.  Has anyone else made similar observations?

January 9, 2012
3:50 pm
DutchessOfNill
Wenatchee, WA
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I hate to admit this, but I have lived my entire life being ashamed of my body.  I have always been 'chubby' (gosh I hate that word) and I have always felt ashamed of my physical being because of it.  Modifying my body helps me feel more like I own my body, and although I don't think it's for reasons of vanity (not consciously at least) it does help me feel as if I accept myself more. My modifications do not make me feel 'pretty' or as if I am more attractive.  They don't demonstrate excessive pride of my physical self.  My modifications simply make me feel more like I am who I am.

I think that society has put a huge emphasis on physical appearance that is quite hypocritical.  If one focuses too much on their outward appearance they are easily deemed vain and high maintenance.  If one puts too little focus on their appearance they then can be called careless and without self worth.  I really feel that it comes down to individual judgement.  People see someone and they say to them self what they choose to think, and it is largely based on social influence, whether one would like to admit it or not.

To say that someone would not be hired for a job because their modifications suggest qualities of vanity seems like a stretch to me.  If that were the case, any woman wearing makeup when applying for a job should be disqualified for showing signs of 'vanity'.  Or any gentleman dressed particularly sharp should be disqualified as well.  Vanity is no excuse for not being hireable.  Discrimination is discrimination.  I, personally, have never once read in any job description that 'persons with issues of vanity need not apply', but that's just me.

January 9, 2012
4:26 pm
Breanne Redin
Bath, Maine
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Chyvonna said:

To say that someone would not be hired for a job because their modifications suggest qualities of vanity seems like a stretch to me.  If that were the case, any woman wearing makeup when applying for a job should be disqualified for showing signs of 'vanity'.  Or any gentleman dressed particularly sharp should be disqualified as well.  Vanity is no excuse for not being hireable.  Discrimination is discrimination.  I, personally, have never once read in any job description that 'persons with issues of vanity need not apply', but that's just me.


 

i agree with this X1000! I get SO bothered by this, constantly! and I'm not sure why vanity came up in the first place, that seems highly unlikely. The reason employers dont want it, in my opinion, is because they think old fashioned folks will be intimidated or offended by the modded people, and won't buy/use their product/service. Which is stupid, since this is still discrimination. Example being, just because there are still racists out there who will be offended or bothered by a different race working there, doesn't mean we should not want to hire someone of a different race.

And I do not see it as a vanity… in fact, I think people often see me as being less attractive because of any mods. This does not stop me, though I am well aware of that fact. Everything I do, I do because I want to do this, because I feel better doing this, not because of how others will see it, because at least around here, they will not see it as a good thing. So how could that POSSIBLY be about vanity? It makes no sense.

However I entirely agree with the fact taht we should be encouraged to love ourselves nad our bodies – though vanity itself is defined as being "excessive". I don't think it's excessive. I guess it could be, but to think that ALL people should be discriminated against when they have mods just because some people might be vain about it is just silly. That is not the reasoning.

 

I hope at least some of that made sense ;) I may have just been rambling…. lol

January 9, 2012
7:18 pm
vampyremage
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To clarify, the person I was speaking to was not saying that it was vanity that caused employers not to hire those who are visibly modified.  Her argument was that it was fine to discriminate against the visibly modified because they were modifying themselves for no other reason than excessive vanity and that vanity was, in essense, not something that was worth protecting.

January 10, 2012
8:31 am
strommer
Portland,OR
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i feel discrimination for any reason other than a persons character is wrong. ive gone into so many job interveiws and been turned away for my mods its got to the point where when i call for the job i tell them about my mods before waisting my time. i think people need to get over it just cause i have mods doesn't mean im gonna perform a task worse than someone else it means im probaly gonna work twice as hard just to prove myself. 

January 11, 2012
1:54 am
Zawmbabe
Leadville, CO
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Chyvonna said:

To say that someone would not be hired for a job because their modifications suggest qualities of vanity seems like a stretch to me.  If that were the case, any woman wearing makeup when applying for a job should be disqualified for showing signs of 'vanity'.  Or any gentleman dressed particularly sharp should be disqualified as well.  Vanity is no excuse for not being hireable.  Discrimination is discrimination.  I, personally, have never once read in any job description that 'persons with issues of vanity need not apply', but that's just me

I think a big part in it isn't just vanity, while modification seems to be accepted more today, there are still some people who aren't big fans of it. I've gotten turned down from jobs because 'customers won't know how to react to me', because apparently my mods look 'unfriendly'. People are going to have mixed views on it. I live in a small town, and they're not so accepting of my modifications, but when I visit the city, it's a whole different thing.

However, I don't think they should be allowed to discriminate based on appearance. Especially when it comes to modified people. What's the difference between breast implants, and an eyebrow piercing? One can help you get a job, while the other hurts your chances. I don't get it. They're both modifications. Your mods don't classify if you're a hard worker or not. 

By using your body, modifying your body, you can go into different states of consciousness and discover the true nature of life and yourself.• ~Fakir Musafar
January 11, 2012
9:20 am
Oakbear
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I think the vanity question is an interesting one. I saw the FB thread, and initially felt hostile towards the supposition that all body modification is vanity (and i'm really hard to offend), so i've taken the time to think about it.

Vanity can denote something trivial, pointless, or selfish, which is why i think the idea slightly offended. However it can also mean an excessive worth attributed to something. The key word there is excessive, rather than seeing something as it is. Seeing something as it is, and recognising actual acheivement, i think most would agree is positive and not vanity. My sense of offence was at my achievements being trivialised or undervalued.

Obviously many people do modify (at least in part) for vanity (and we can all be guilty on occasion), they think they are now 'cool' or 'attractive', or even more 'important'. This highlights why many religions views consider vanity as a bad thing, as it detracts from seeing the universe or God as the most important, and recognising one's humble place in the grand scheme of things.

It's interesting that the patriarchal monotheisms and Buddhism would agree on this.

Modification is inherently self centred, but just because this can mean selfishness or greed, doesn't mean there are not other positive aspects to it.

Personally i like the concept of Atman and Brahman, that we are an inseperable part of the everything, which is at once indistiguishable and unique. By exploring the divine through the self, the spiritual through the worldly, we commune with the divine. I don't think markers or reminders of that are vanity.

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." - Nietzsche
January 11, 2012
11:39 am
Chris Carter
Pennsylvania
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Oakbear, I love what you just wrote and posted it on the CoBM's FB page.
"By exploring the divine through the self, the spiritual through the worldly, we commune with the divine."

Church of Body Modification, President

January 11, 2012
3:27 pm
Oakbear
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Thanks!Embarassed

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." - Nietzsche
January 11, 2012
7:32 pm
vampyremage
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Oakbear said:

Vanity can denote something trivial, pointless, or selfish, which is why i think the idea slightly offended.


I think this is exactly why I too took a bit of offense at what was said and I am likewise very difficult to offend.  Its not the idea that motiviation might, at least in part, have to do with physical aesthetics but rather that said motivation is trivial and pointless.  My own modifications and my own journey through modification is anything but trivial or pointless.

 

The further along the body modification journey I progress, the more I come to realize that the mind and body cannot be seperate from one another and the more I realize the import of nourashing both.  Of course the idea of nourishment of the body is going to differe from individual to individual but I can no longer see those two aspects of self as being seperate.  To enhance one's physical appearance, in whatever way one chooses, is nourishment of the body guided by the mind.  I'm not sure that its possible to have a healthy spirit without also having ahealthy mind and body.

 

I have perhaps, something of a unique perspective on the mind/body/spirit connection in the sense that I didn't used to have any connection to my body.  For most of my life it felt like an empty shell inhereted by chance in order to house my mind within.  Its only in the last couple of years that I've really gained a feeling of ownership to my body, a feeling that this is truly MY body and to have that ownership trivialized is something that's hard to really understand. 

January 12, 2012
2:10 am
madeofpaper
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Alright, just to clarify, the two main things we are discussing here are:

  • is it ok for a person to be denied a job/discriminated against in the workplace due to pure vanity, and
  • society is telling us we should be ashamed of our bodies if we do not fit into the ideal beauty standards, but if we do
    fit into the ideal beauty standards or, god forbid, we are satisfied

    with out physical appearance, we are vain and that is a poor quality.

First off, the idea of an employer being able to deny someone a job
due to vanity by itself is mindblowingly ridiculous, however we all
obviously know it happens all the time. if we are using vanity as a
blanket term and not just for describing why people with visible body
mods are turned away, then wouldn't anyone who looks like they are
trying too hard to be beautiful or shows overconfidence in their
appearance be equally as likely to be turned down for a job? the answer
is yes, but that's not how things work. therefore, i say that it is not
ok at all for a job to discriminate against someone due to vanity.

besides,
if we really examine the term "vanity" i don't really think body
modification could be considered a vain act in most cases. yes, there
are people out there who modify themselves and in turn admire themselves
greatly for it, but this is not the majority of cases.

and i
could write a book on societies beauty standards, but to keep it short,
society is fucked and it's almost impossible to win when it comes to
beauty/physical appearance. i think maybe people are just afraid of a
person who is satisfied with their body, because we are taught to hate
our bodies. that's partially why vanity is negative. if someone is
extremely vain, though, i can see how that is seen as a negative
quality. it's akin to being pretentious/full of yourself in my opinion.
it's bad for your soul.

another thing i want to add is that i
think one reason why it's still ok today for people with body
modifications to be discriminated against in the work force is because
most people don't understand and don't even know that some people modify
for spiritual reasons. i don't think any employer sees body
modifications as spiritual objects/vessels. they just think we do it to
"look cool" or rebel. and since it is technically a personal choice and
we weren't born with metal and ink in our skin, it's ok to discriminate
against us because "we can just take them out/cover them up/just not do
it!"

however and lastly, i will say that i give certain
businesses/professions wiggle room for discrimination. due to clientele,
you just wont get a job at certain places. chances are, a modified
person will never work at, say, a golf course/country club, because it
is a professional and somewhat conservative environment. the truth
hurts, but customers don't want to walk in to a country club and see
someone with giant lobes and horns, you know? it's a shitty truth, but
it is a truth.

January 13, 2012
11:47 am
Ignacious
North Carolina
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Sadly I believe that most people with modifications do it for a purely vain reason.

85% of the people I'v seen with mod's seem to try and pull all the attention around them, to their new modification. I hear people talking about them like they are just another necklace or ring, or pair of expensive shoes that makes them more.. I don't even know, but its sickening to me.

From my expeirences many people with mods fit into the catogory of Carbon Copies. People from all different walks of life, who walk a path JUST to fit into that group of people or seem a certain way for whatever reason they may have. The things their doing are not for personal love, spirituality or any other valid reason. These things are just a passing fad.

And because of these types of people, many people in society will continue to look at what we do, church or no church, as a rebellion to society, as a fasion statement, as some other third thing. It will be years before the general public understands that what we are doing, we're doing because it is spirtual, it is simply part of who we are.

January 13, 2012
8:53 pm
strommer
Portland,OR
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i do agree with ignacious on the fact that there is alot of people who only get mods cause its the latest trend but those people tend to get rid of them just as quik as they got em they usualy dont research or care who does it they go to the mall to get em done rarely take care of em or do a poor job of taking care of them and end up blaming the artist for there infections witch could have easily been avoided with proper after care and i agree that people like this make it harder for the rest of us who do it for a porpuse

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