Friday, May 1, 2009

Snape Isn't the Only One With a Snake Tongue.

Beyond the perceptions of what everyday body art is about lies the extremes of body art commonly referred to as body modifications. One example of this which is growing rapidly in popularity is the act of tongue splitting. Tongue splitting is the process by which someone’s tongue is cut half way down the middle starting from the tip. There are multiple ways for one to get his tongue split but it is generally done through surgery in a hospital. James Keen, a 19-year-old from Scottsville, Kentucky who has his tongue split says that “the cutting was done in three sessions with a scalpel heated by a blow torch and no anesthetic” (Bernbaum). Though there is a growing population of people who find this aesthetically, and physically pleasing there are still many risks are involved. “One of the main worries, [Illinois state Rep. David] Miller says, is risk of infection from bacteria in the mouth. He also says a person's speech could be affected by scar tissue and the splitting itself. . . .Essie Hakim, a 30-year-old New Yorker who had her tongue split says she did have to learn how to speak again (Bernbaum). Due to the risks it poses and the fact that many people see tongue splitting as body mutilation rather than body modification, it has received a bad rep in the government and in places like Illinois they are trying outlaw it. “Earlier this year. . . several branches of the armed services banned tongue-splitting. [One] airman had the tissue in his split tongue reopened and sewn back together in February to avoid being kicked out of the service” (Bernbaum).
With all of the risks and possible legal ramification soon why would anyone what is driving so many people to get their tongues split? An article by CBS news commented on the thoughts of these individuals. For some people they do not see tongue splitting like something to show off like a tattoo but they see it as a body enhancement. There are still those who do it for the shock value but at the same time there are those who find the experience of getting their tongue split as spiritual. There are even those who get their tongue split because they like the way it looks and feels. Also, according to James Keen, it makes you a better kisser (Bernbaum).

Works Cited
Bernbaum, Brian. "New Body Fashion -- Tongue Splitting." CBS News. 13 May 2003. The Associated Press. 1 May 2009 .

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Talk About Nice Teeth

Typically when one thinks of body art they think of tattoos and piercings when in actuality body art can be the modification of any body part. One particularly unique place that people are having modified is their teeth. People can now get certain modifications done to their teeth as well as the rest of their body. People are not able to have their teeth filed so that they are a desired shape or size and they can have them implanted with jewels. Tooth filing is not always a procedure that is done out of cosmetic desire. In some cultures, such as in Bali, people get their teeth filed flat as part of a religious ceremony which is done “to control evil human characteristics (sad ripu): greed, lust, anger, confusion, stupidity, jealousy, ill-will, and intoxication by either passion or drunkenness” (Religion Tooth Filing). Tooth filing for the Balinese people is a rite of passage that is done usually when a person first reaches puberty and if not then than it must be performed either before or as an integrated part of the wedding ceremony.
The implanting of jewels in teeth is a rather new procedure but has become rather popular among celebrities. Stars such as Pink and Lil’ Wayne sport the tooth piercings. Though both have tooth piercings, Lil’ Wayne takes it to a new level. Lil’ Wayne went beyond the usually semi permanent jewel implants and he surgically $15,000 worth of jewels implanted on his teeth. This permanent bedazzling of his teeth can only be removed or changed if he goes to the hospital and has them perform surgery on him.

Works Cited
"Religion Tooth Filing." Bali Tooth Filing. 30 Apr. 2009 .

Eye Spy

Eyes are often the first thing someone notices on a person, so it would make sense that if you want to show off some body art than that’s the place to do it. Through modern technology and research scientists have found ways to create all sorts of things to change the appearance of one’s eye. Contact lenses for example now can be made so that they change the color of one’s eye and some contacts even have patterns and designs on them. For people who want the eye color change but don’t need contacts they now have eye drops which will temporarily change the color of your iris.
Eyes are often the first thing someone notices on a person, so it would make sense that if you want to show off some body art than that’s the place to do it. Through modern technology and research scientists have found ways to create all sorts of things to change the appearance of one’s eye. Contact lenses for example now can be made so that they change the color of one’s eye and some contacts even have patterns and designs on them. For people who want the eye color change but don’t need contacts they now have eye drops which will temporarily change the color of your iris. Believe it or not though this is not the most extreme things people can do to their eyes. Recently a method has been discovered which allows people to not only tattoo the whites of their eyes but to also implant small metal pieces of jewelry. The process of implanting a piece of eye jewelry is called Cosmetic Extraocular Implant. “In 2002 the Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery developed a cosmetic extraocular implant (CEI) that can be implanted within the superficial, interpalpebral conjunctiva. The implant does not interfere with the ocular functions, ie the visual performance and motility. The CEI is made of a specially designed material that can be molded in all kinds of desired shapes and sizes” (Cosmetic Extraocular Implant). Eye tattooing “… [entails] a total of 40 injections into [the] eye to capture the proper pigment. The pigment was initially injected under the top layer of the eye using a syringe… The blue ink for the tattoo was mixed with an antibiotic wash and used for the tattoo” (Eye Tattoo). These new trends just go to show how body artists are getting more and more creative and extreme.

Works Cited
"Cosmetic Extraocular Implant." Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery. 30 Apr. 2009 .
"Cosmetic Extraocular Implant." Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery. 30 Apr. 2009 .

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Body Art In The Workplace

Though body art is seen by the wearer as an expression of who they are, many times this expression interferes with one’s job opportunities. Many employers do not allow for exposed body art other than a few piercings in the ears. Employers are even allowed to deny someone a job due to the fact that he has too elaborate visible body art. “According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers are allowed to impose dress codes and appearance policies as long as they do not discriminate or hinder a person's race, color, religion, age, national origin, or gender” (Robo). Most companies who are strict about appearances even have exceptions written into the employment contract. "In our employee manual, we have a section about employee personal appearance where it says 'no excessive piercing and tattooing,'" said Duncan Browne, senior vice president of Newbury Comics, a Boston, Mass.-based chain of music and comic retailers in an interview with Regina M. Robo for Tattoos and excessive piercings seem to get a bad reputation when it comes to the business world. According to Careerbuilder and 42 percent of managers said their opinion of someone would be lowered by that person's visible body art. 44 percent of managers said they had tattoos or body piercings in places other than the ears. 81 percent of respondents think piercings in places other than the ears are unprofessional. 76 percent of respondents believe visible tattoos are unprofessional. Due to the fact that it is a well known fact that excessive body art is risky for certain employment some tattoo parlors will not even do some tattoos due to where someone wants it. I personally knew a guy who wanted to get a moustache tattooed on the inside of his finger so that he could put it to his upper lip like he had a real moustache. When he went to the tattoo parlor the tattoo artist said that he would not do the tattoo because the placement of it could cause my friend to have limited job opportunities.

Works Cited
Robo, Regina M. "Body Art in the Workplace." Jan. 2007. 30 Apr. 2009 .

African Scarification

All around the world in all different countries and cultures people go under the knife to become more attractive. The only difference in these procedures around the world is the desired end appearance. Living in the United States, we are constantly bombarded with magazines, TV shows, radio gossip, and web sites which are dedicated solely on talking about celebrities and rich people who get plastic surgery so that they can have bigger breasts, smaller waists and butts, or just so that they look younger. On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in Africa, men and women alike are going under the knife not to hide their scars or to fix any size preferences one might have, but to create scars. Scarification is a common practice across Africa as a cultural activity. There are many reasons for scarification in African cultures. Scars from scarification are, “Not only... perceived as aesthetically pleasing, [but] they are also
functional, for example indicating one's lineage” (Coleman). Scarification is the act of taking a sharp object such as a knife or a rock and cutting the skin with it in certain patterns with the aim to leave raised scars on the person’s skin. “Cicatrisation is a special form of scarification, whereby a gash is made in the skin with a sharp instrument, and irritation of the skin caused by applying caustic plant juices forms permanent blisters. Dark pigments such as ground charcoal or gunpowder are sometimes rubbed into the wound to provide emphasis” (Coleman). Scarification can be used to show one’s social status, ethnic group, or family. Scarification in some tribes, such as the Tib in Nigeria, use scarification to show where a girl is in her life (adolescent, puberty, adult) or to show how ready she is for reproducing. Though in the United States extreme body art is seen as something usually done by the rebels and outcasts of society, ‘”Scarification and other forms of body decoration were traditionally considered marks of civilisation. They distinguished the civilised, socialised human body from the body in its natural state and from animals’ (Vogel.1986.p.25)” (Coleman).

Works Cited
Coleman, Helen. "Scarification among African cultures." Scarification and Cicatrisation among African cultures. Nov. 2002. 29 Apr. 2009 .

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Tattooing, though usually thought of as a piece of body art that will stick with the wearer for the rest of his life is sometimes lasts for even less time than a broken bone. The ancient Indian body art practice known as Mehendi, or henna tattooing, used to be part of the preparation a woman would go through before she had a special event, such as a wedding or religious ceremony, to attend. Though traditionally henna tattooing was only for women today men and even children can receive a henna tattoo. Henna ink is actually a paste made from henna plants and is completely organic and pain free ( The paste is applied to the skin, usually in traditional designs wrapping around the wrists, forearms, hands, and top of feet. The paste is then allowed to dry and is then easily brushed from the skin leaving only a dark mark on the skin which it directly touched. These elaborate and pain-free tattoos do have one down side if someone especially desires to keep the design on their skin, they fade and over time, usually about a month, they disappear completely from the skin leaving no trace. Though it is possible to get an original design with henna the majority of henna tattoos are done with traditional designs. The traditional henna designs though do not just come in set patterns that are just stenciled on the recipient, they can range from the relatively simple, such as a swirling patterned ring around one's wrist and hand, to extremely intricate designs which can cover the entirety of one's hands and feet.

Works Cited
"Henna Artisans." The Henna Tattoo People. 27 Mar. 2009 .

Nothing Feels Better Than a Good Stretch

Though piercing is a very popular form of body art, some people feel as though a small piece of metal through their skin is not enough. These people take the small hole made by the original piercing and stretch the skin around it gradually over time until the desired size is reached. Though gauging an piercing is often though of as an extent of piercing, it cannot be done as easily as a simple piercing, nor can it be done in as many places. In order to gauge a piercing one usually starts with a normal sized piercing and then slowly over time the person gets bigger and bigger gauged pieces of jewelry and stretches the opening. Gauges can range in size from just slightly larger than a pin to big enough for someone to fit his hand through the hole. People cannot get every piercing gauged to that extent though, for obvious reasons. Most people, if they opt for gauges, only gauge their ears, but in some cases, such as the one shown above, gauges can be in their lips and nose as well. In even more rare cases people get more private piercings gauged such as their nipples or even parts of their genitalia. If done incorrectly gauging can result in serious consequences. The skin around the gauge can often split or scar if stretched too rapidly without adequate time to heal between switching the sizes of jewelry. Though some people find gauges to be unattractive, frightening, or even intimidating it is just another way in which people can express their creativity with their bodies.


Body piercing is another very popular form of body art that has become increasingly popular. Piercing is the act of taking a piece of metal jewelry ("jewelry" being used loosely) is inserted through the skin of a recipient and then is left there as a piece of body decoration, like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Piercings can range from the simple and common to the extreme and outlandish. Simple piercings, such as one or both ears is often times done when the recipient of the piercing is very young sometimes even before the recipient can talk. Facial piercings are another very common form of body art. If the recipient does not want to have too extreme piercings he or she may opt to have his or her eyebrow, nose (nostril or septum), tongue, or lip pierced. Even these can sometimes get to be closer to the range of extreme piercings if done with too much frequency. Piercings options often stray from the face and head though. Many teenage girls, and a few guys, get their bellybuttons pierced. Many consider any other piercings to be extreme and, in some cases, grotesque. With technology today it seems that people can get a piece of metal through, or at least stuck into, any and every part of their bodies. Certain websites are even dedicated to the art of body piercing. is a site completely devoted to the art of body piercings. They have categorized archives of pictures of piercings. They have galleries for piercings of the eyebrow, nose, lip, tongue, ears, and navel. They also have galleries for more extreme piercings such as nipple piercings; male and female genitalia piercings; pocketing, which is when a piece of metal is embedded under the skin with parts of it exposed; and one category which is just labeled "Unusual ("

Yakuza Crime

Along with the emotional and artistic reasons for getting a tattoo there is also the aspect of inclusion. Gangs around the world use tattoos to indicate one's participation in their group. Though there is much symbolism and meaning behind these tattoos some gangs do not allow for the rest of the community in which they live to see them. This is especially prominent in the gangs of Asia, more specifically the Yakuza (Violence Group), the gangs of Japan. Many of these gangs use hidden tattoos which cover all of their body except for their heads, necks, wrists, hands, ankles, and feet to show gang inclusion. The tattoos do not extend to these extremities in order to allow the gang members to live seemingly normal lives with normal jobs without having anyone recognizing them as gang members. Though co-workers and acquaintances of Yakuza members may not know the member's association with the gang, the Japanese government requires that all members of the Yakuza gang to be identified and registered with the government ( The tattoos which the Yakuza receive are not all just random symbols and pictures, many members have tattoos such as black rings around their arms to indicate the number of crimes which the specific member has committed. The tattoos are also as sign of strength and the unwillingness to assimilate themselves with the rules and norms of society. Some of the elaborate tattoo work done on the Yakuza members can take over one hundred hours. Though the Yakuza mainly make their money from illicit activities, such as gambling, drugs, prostitution and extortion, they are often looked at as a family that looks out for and protects its members. They even look out for the societies in which they live as well. After the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, the Yakuza not only helped financially by setting up financial aid, but they also arranged for a helicopter to come in and help the people in most dire need of it. Tattooing for the Yakuza is more of a form of inclusion than an intimidation tactic to warn everyone to stay away, even if it is not always seen that way. Sometimes these elaborate and beautiful works of art cause the wearer to be banned from places like public baths and hotels due to the fact that older generations still see these tattoos as signs of crime and violence (

Works Sited
"Archive for Yakuza." Weblog post. Yakuza. 27 Mar. 2009 .

"The Yakuza Modern Day Japanese Mafia." Weblog post. Yakuza - Japanese Mafia and Their Tattoos. 27 Mar. 2009 .

"Four Tears in My Face and You Ain't Never Heard Me Cry"

In the American culture people get tattoos and piercings for many reasons, to express one's love for someone, to express an idea that is very close to someone's heart, or even just because he likes the look of a piercing or tattoo. Though a piercing can sometimes have significant meaning to a person, it is usually tattoos which are used to express a belief, emotion, or idea. One specific tattoo design that is seen very often in the Hip-Hop culture of America, and on the faces of many prisoners, is the teardrop tattoo. The general design of the tattoo is the same, but slight variations in the way in which the tear is filled in give it very different connotations. Though the meaning of the teardrop has come to represent one murder committed per drop, its actual meanings are quite varied and are not always associated with violence. For the most part the teardrop is a symbol of the loss of a friend, loved one, or, on a man, it can represent the loss of a brother ( If the teardrop is just an outline it signifies that either a loved one of the wearer has been killed or that the wearer has attempted murder but was unsuccessful ( In the Hip-Hop industry, famous rapper, The Game, wears one of these tears emblazoned opposite his tattoo representing L.A. A teardrop tattoo that is filled in represents either that a loved one has purposefully taken his own life or that a loved one has died in a way other than murder such as a car crash, accidental drug overdose, or death penalty ( This specific teardrop tattoo is also seen in the Hip-Hop industry on the face of famous rapper Lil' Wayne. The last style in which the teardrop is commonly seen is a tear with only the bottom half filled in but the top half left empty. This style indicates that a loved one of the wearer was murdered but then the wearer took matters into his own hands and killed the murderer.

Work Cited

Boyd, Noel. "The Teardrop Tattoo." Weblog post. A Tattooed Blog by Noel Boyd. Tattoos, Life n' Everything Else! 19 Mar. 2005. 26 Mar. 2009 .