You have already probably seen this unbelievable image of Maria Hose Cristerna, a mum of four from Mexico, who has transformed her body to become her vision of a vampire. She is almost totally covered in tattoos and has titanium horn implants. Maria explains that she decided to do this to her body in response to a childhood of abuse. She told a UK tabloid, ‘Tattoos were a form of liberation for me – my way of being immortal – and the horns I have are a symbol of strength and were implanted without anaesthetic.”
According to the 2006 statistics from US Food and Drug Administration, 45 million Americans have at least one tattoo and the Pew Research Center estimated that 36% of 18-25 year-olds have at least one tattoo. I am sure there are many reasons people modify their bodies but the common explanation is that it is a form of self-expression – an act that differentiates oneself from the crowd. Many have secret tattoos and piercings – a bit like the hidden or real self that is kept separate from public scrutiny. But for those who like to display their tattoos, there appears to be something addictive about them as I know very few people who just have the one. What may start out as a single example of self-expression eventually becomes familiar and loses its impact factor. Soon, there is a perceived need to do something new.
Not everyone who was abused gets tattooed and not everyone who is tattooed was abused. For Maria, this is her explanation for her extreme body modification and I doubt many would go as far. But it is clearly a fashion on the increase (as documented by the popularity of TV shows about tattoo studios) which is ironic if tattooing is really is a measure of non-conformity.
Are you tattooed? What was the evolution of your body modification?