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?
10 responses to “Extreme Body Modification”
Nothing faulty with body adornments. Has been going on for aeons, since early Man. All are expressions of culture, feelings, artistic display etc as long as its not carried to extremes. Like going to work dressed up as a harlequin !
It’s interesting how tattooing has evolved. I was recently told of how it was part of the carnie tradition – eg: the Tattooed Lady. However, I was told that in the carnie “Freak Shows” these were the self-inflicted “freaks” – unlike those who were there due to unfortunate genetic aberrations.
Well it goes back as far as we can trace civilization and has been found in every culture so it appears to be pretty fundamental though of course, it is subject to fashion. I think it is fascinating and I am tempted to interpret it as something to do with the way that individuals regard their bodies as vessels for their self but then maybe I am seeing to much into it.
Except in Jewish culture where it is banned – although I wonder if that was always the case or if it only came about with a rabbinical interpretation. On another note, there’s an ad on TV here in Australia for Circulon cooking products. It shows a very elegant older lady cooking. The VoiceOver talks about how you will not regret the purchase of this product that will last a lifetime unlike other choices made long ago. She is wearing a sleeveless dress & as the camera tracks up her arm it reveals a stark black tribal looking tattoo encircling her arm. The lady looks down at her arm with a resigned look. The ad always struck me as odd because it makes such a strong social statement about tattooing which really doesn’t fit with the triviality of purchasing a saucepan.
An but there is one body modification in Jewish culture, is there not?
Yeah, it was banned in Jewish culture and, if I recall correctly, it was at the very least considered weird and unusual amongst the Greeks and Romans. Both seemed to have had a tendency to call the nations around them “tattooed barbarians”, which suggests that amongst these two groups at least, tattoos were not done. At the moment, the only nations/traditions I recall having specific negative emotions to tattoos are the Jewish and the Japanese. In the latter case, it’s due to the connection between tattoos and the Japanese Mafia.
I have Euler’s Identity tattooed on my left shoulder. If I get more tattoos, they will also be in a place that is typically covered, because I have an office job and don’t want to limit my potential for advancement… but it’s not a secret, I’ve shown it to many people at work — there’s not really a stigma against tattoos per se, but I think there is one against visible tattoos.
I know for many people, their reasons are very complex, but for me it’s quite simple: I think it looks cool and it’s a means of self-expression. It’s like putting a bumper sticker on my car, except that it’s more personal and permanent, but I don’t feel that it’s qualitatively different, at least for me.
No tats here, but I’ve often thought of getting one. The decision usually comes down to cost, and a good quality safe tattoo costs about the same as some new golf clubs I have my eye on and I have my priorities!
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Like, I once went to your Queen Victoria and Arthur Art Museum in London, and there was a guy there with his face like totally tattooed in weird rings, like a Mau Ree from Zealand. I kept following him round with my phone, it was fascinating, man. He was better than the statutes and stuff the old queen put there. And he was real. Many Europeans are barbarians, I think .