The Body modification reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Body modification

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Body modification (or body alteration) is the permanent or semi-permanent deliberate altering of the human body for non-medical reasons, most often religious or aesthetic. It can range from the socially acceptable decoration (e.g., pierced ears on women in North American society), to religiously mandated (e.g., circumcision in a number of cultures) to the rebellious (e.g., nostril piercings in punk subculture). Opponents of these practices call them disfigurement or mutilation.

Nearly every human society practices or has practiced some type of body modification in its broadest definition, from Maori tattoos to Victorian corsets to modern breast implants.

One controversial form of body modification is the attempt to resemble another race, such as Asians having their epicanthic folds modified to resemble Caucasian eyes or skin lightened with dyes, or African-Americans straightening their hair or getting a nose job.

"Disfigurement" and "mutilation" are terms used by opponents of body modification to describe certain types of modifications, especially non-consensual ones. Those terms are used fairly uncontroversially to describe the victims of torture, who have endured damage to ears, eyes, feet, genitalia, hands, noses, teeth, and/or tongues, including amputation, burning, flagellation, piercing, skinning, and wheeling. "Genital mutilation" is also used somewhat more controversially to describe certain kinds of socially prescribed modifications to the genitals, such as circumcision, female circumcision, and castration. Those opposed to the practice of sexual reassignment surgery may consider it genital mutilation, done for psychological reasons; this is universally rejected by those in favor of it, who more often consider the reasons medical.

Body art is body modification for artistic reasons.

Some futurists believe that eventually humans will pursue body modification for technological reasons, with permanently implanted devices to enhance mental and physical capabilities, thereby becoming cyborgs. For the substantial number of people with heart pacemakers and brain implants such as cochlear implants and electrical brain stimulators for Parkinson's disease, this is already a reality.

Some types of body modification

See also