Essay Sample on Body Modification and Decoration

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  869 Words
Date:  2022-11-22


Recently, the rate at which people are modifying and decorating their bodies is significantly increasing. Different types of body modifications and body decorations originated at a different time because some of the practices started a very long time ago while others recently gained popularity. The main types of body modification and decoration are tattooing and body piercing. This essay explains the difference between body modification and body decoration and also it discusses how both communicate something about the individuals wearing them.

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The Difference Between Body Modification and Decoration

Body modification which is also referred to as body alteration is the process of permanently altering the physical appearance of a person. For example, almost every woman has pierced their ears. Nowadays, surgical body modification is widespread in the form of cosmetic surgery, but it is not regarded as threatening unless there is a problem with the procedure. People choose to modify their bodies because of factors such as social rank, culture, wealth, and group associations. Body modification includes practices such as piercings, teeth filling, earlobe stretching, and neck elongation.

Body piercing is defined as piercing of holes in different body parts other than the earlobes with the aim of inserting jewelry. The different types of body piercing include ear piercing, tongue piercing, lip piercing, and nose piercing. Ear piercing is practiced in many cultures, and wearing of jewelry in the pierced areas is associated with a wide range of beliefs and meanings. Early, ear piercing was used for magical reasons, performing rituals, and repelling demons and spirits. In modern culture, the new methods and technology are enhancing the procedure of body piercing because currently, the piercers have the capability of inserting surgical implants beneath the skin, pierce new body parts, and performing micro dermal anchoring.

On the other hand, some of the body decoration practices can be permanent or temporary marks or art designs that are designed on an individual's body. The common types of body decoration include tattoos, scarification, body painting, and beadwork. Scarification is the process of cutting the skin in beautiful arrangements leaving long-lasting scars. Scarification is practiced to signify some crucial stages of a person's life like the puberty and childbirth stage. Scarification can also be used for indication of an individual's tribal heritage, as a rite of passage or to display personal experience. Body painting is the process of using colors to create artistic designs. Body painting can be used for celebration, protection, and mourning.

A tattoo is a long-lasting mark or art design made on an individual's body by introducing pigment through ruptures in the skin by use of a needle (Wright, 2015). A tattoo is said to have originated over ten thousand years ago, and it is believed that after Christianity started gaining popularity, tattoos were linked to criminals. Currently, people use tattoos to speak about their own stories and express themselves. There is an improvement in the art of tattoo because of the introduction of new methods and technology.

Body Decoration, Body Modification, and Communication

There is a connection between tattooing and communication. Body modification and decoration communicates to the public irrespective of the tattooed people's desired purpose concerning communication. Some people use text tattoos that can be in various types of languages. The challenges with body modification and decorations are that some people may wrongly interpret or misunderstand the intention, motivation or the explanation that the individuals have when they decide to modify or decorate their body. Tattoos that are physically visible affects the image that the tattoo owner presents to the audience. Public perception is vital to consider because tattoos might impact the image displayed to the audience. To some people, body decorations and modifications is a distinction in their career.

The public does not fully embrace the speakers who have tattoos. Hence, speakers with tattoos tend to hide them during their presentations thereby signifying an occupational influence. However, some audience reacts positively or give neutral responses if they happen to see the tattoo of a speaker. The way observers identify body modifications and decorations might be outlined in particular ways, like a person's mindset regarding the body's alterations. While the image of a tattoo may be visible, any possible significance behind the tattoo may not be, and the picture might provide unclear meaning or misdirect the audience's opinions. Many people do not find it necessary to explain the meaning of their tattoos. Judging from the situation, the audiences can establish the rules to communicate appropriately about tattoo knowledge and not miscommunicate about the tattoo information. Unsuitable tattoo information has substantial possible harm because the person with the tattoo feels offended and upset beyond just the tattoo itself. The inappropriate revealing of body modification and decoration information hurts individuals' lives.


In concluding, it is clear that body modification which is also referred as body alteration is the process of permanently altering the physical appearance of a person while body decoration is permanent or temporary marks or art designs that are designed on an individual's body skin. The body modifications and decorations express the meanings or explanations of the owner of the tattoo or the body piercing.


Wright, J. (2015). Modifying the body: piercing and tattoos. Nursing Standard, 10(11), pp.27-30.

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