Body Art and Ornamentation

1440 Words6 Pages
It seems more and more common these days that many people decorate or alter their body for various reasons. All around the world, people put decorations on and sometimes in their bodies to identify themselves as individuals, identify a social status, achievement or other personal meeting. They scar, paint, pierce, shape, and adorn their skin. These modifications are how people portray their identities and the social groups to which they belong and interact. Each of these social groups has various forms of body art or decoration that represents various times or events during their lives. The style of body decoration used by a person may be indicative of their age, job, gender, wealth, power or even status. Body decoration can be a way of making the body attractive by emphasizing a specific part of the body. Skin decoration can either be permanent or temporary, socially acceptable or socially challenging, or even painful or enjoyable.
Body modification has had a long history (Wohlrab, Stahl, & Kappeler, 2007). These modifications are popular with various cultures all around the world for varying reasons. Although the way the body is modified varies with different geographical locations, many of the modifications have a specific meaning for their own culture. These modifications can often be part of a rite of passage which Arnold Van Gennep defined as when “we move from one status to another within the lifecycle” (Crapo, 6.4). Each culture has its own rites of passages that are handed down from generation to generation with their own significance. Piercings is an example of body modification that is popular in many cultures today and started as an initiation rite in some cultures. It is reported that in Australia as many as o...

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...Style is taking the place of fashion, and tribes or social groups are denoted more by their style and less by their cultural or religious identities.

Works Cited

(2011, December 24). Samoan tattoos badges of honour. Queensland Times, The (Ipswich, Queensland). p. 26.
Crapo, R. H. (2013). Cultural anthropology. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education.
Jenny, D. (2001, May 30). A rite of passage for one woman in five. Illawarra Mercury. p. 3.
Michael, K. (2007, April 1). Hawai'i by Design; From signature stores to sophisticated hotels to ancient tattoo techniques, design is everywhere in Hawai‘i, challenging who we think we are. Honolulu Magazine (HI).
Tanne, J.H. (2000). Body Art: Marks of Identity. British Medical Journal, 320(7226): 64.
Wohlrab, S., Kappeler, P.M. & Stahl, J. (2007). Modifying the body: Motivations for getting tattooed and pierced. Body Image

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