Body Art and Ornamentation Essay

1587 Words Sep 26th, 2013 7 Pages
Running head: BODY ART AND ORNAMENTATION

Body Art and Ornamentation in Different Cultures

Introduction to Cultural Anthropology ANT101

July 28, 2013

There is no culture in which people do not, or did not paint, pierce, tattoo, reshape, or simply adorn their bodies (Schildkrout, 2001). Throughout history, body art and ornamentation has become a worldwide phenomenon and has played a key role in our lives, yet there is a social stigma which we cannot seem to rid ourselves of. It is most commonly misunderstood and misinterpreted which can be attributed to the fact that the symbolism and significance of the body art and/or ornamentation doesn’t always translate the same among the cultures. Although Western culture views body art
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The pain that was felt and the blood that was shed served as an offering to the gods, ancestors, and spirits (2001). On the other end of the spectrum, culture within the United States has a split view regarding body art and ornamentation.
In the United States, forms of body art and ornamentation can include: tattoos, piercings, branding, corseting, scarification, gauging the earlobe, make-up, plastic surgery, and dental implants (Schwarz, 2006). We live in a society where we idolize and preach the importance of physical attractiveness. In doing so, there is the separation of individuals into five different groups that exist within the social structure.
The five groups include: the conformist group, the innovators, ritualists, retreatists, and the rebellion group (Rapp, 2010). The conformist group consists of individuals who understand and accept the emphasis on the beauty of the body in its natural state and the only type of body art or ornamentation that’s used is superficial. On the other hand, the individuals who are classified as innovators accept the whole concept of the beauty of the natural body, but go to the extremes to achieve this. The individuals who refuse to conform to what society has deemed as beautiful yet maintains a natural body and stays within certain bounds regarding body art and ornamentation. Retreatists include individuals who don’t abide by

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