BODY MODIFICATION GLOSSARY
Body Building - Through controlled diet and repeated exercise, muscles can be forced to grow larger and denser at a rate much faster than with average daily activity.
Circumcision - The removal of the foreskin of the penis is practiced by several cultures, often for religious reasons. The organ rarely needs this minor surgery for actual function purposes.
Corsetry - The binding of the waist to reduce its size has appeared on and off throughout history, dating back to Crete in ancient Greece. Most often a temporary form of body shaping, if carried out to an extreme, this can result in permanent reshaping of the body. Also called tight-lacing or waist-cinching. Done too quickly, it causes mild to intense physical constriction, shortness of breath and digestive discomfort.
Foot Binding - This 17th century Chinese practice was done to very young girls, and resulted in their feet remaining small enough to fit in the palm of a mans hand. It was believed to have started as a way to make Chinese women unattractive to the neighboring Tatar invaders, who prized long feet on women. However it became an aesthetic practice that spread through the upper class society and continued to be practiced almost to the 20th century.
Neck Elongation - The Padaung women of Burma would have brass rings welded permanently around their necks, adding them slowly from puberty until adulthood. Over time, this slow progression elongated their necks until they were many inches longer than with normal genetic growth.
Orthodonture - The ability to realign the teeth to smoothly aligned is a more modern form of body shaping and is so prevalent in Western society that children are often told it must be done to them. However this is just a present-day convention, as the actual number of cases where eating and talking are negatively affected by crooked teeth are very rare.
Piercing - Some forms of body piercing are thousands of years old and some were invented within the last decade. Most common are the lower ear lobes and nostrils. Western culture is presently infatuated with nipple and navel piercing. Much of what people think is ancient piercing history was invented in the 40s and 50s.
Plastic Surgery - A wide array of practices fall under this heading, including liposuction (removal of body fat), implants (cheeks, breasts, buttocks, pectorals, calves), rhinoplasty (nose surgery) and rhytidectomy (facelift). These methods substitute surgical technique for physical effort in making changes or allow changes that would otherwise not be genetically possible.
Scarification - To create a design on or in the skin by making shallow cuts. Sometimes the lines are rubbed with a coloring agent, most often tattoo ink, to highlight the marks and any resultant scar tissue. Also known as cutting, cicatrice or cicatrization.
Tattooing - from the Polynesian word tatu meaning to strike. Using either hand tools or a motorized tool, a needle is forced into the skin and ink is allowed to run into the puncture. If the depth is kept within the dermis, the design is permanent. This term is incorrectly applied to henna and other means of temporarily decorating the skin surface. Even with modern laser treatments, tattooed skin will never be as clear and unblemished as it was before it was marked.