I’ve recently mentioned a few of the mods that I’m currently planning out. These include a cutting scarification by Brian Decker and a tattoo by an artist at the NYC Tattoo Convention. In trying to perfect the designs for both, and be sure that I am completely comfortable with them becoming a permanent part of my body, I have come to realize how much the mod-planning process has affected the way in which I view my own life.
Hopefully you'll be eternally happy with your mods, like this guy!
With this realization came a newfound understanding of the claim that body modification aids in identity formation. I have encountered this claim many times in my modification research, and had formerly viewed it as a statement about the use of body modification to associate oneself with a particular subculture and thus achieve a feeling of belonging. I never agreed or identified with this view, as I had always seen modding as an expression of one’s individual identity rather than a way of forming it through identification with a group. However, a new way of interpreting this claim allowed me to see why I have so often come across it.
I now realize that body modification can function as an aid in identity formation simply because it forces one to undergo an unexpected self-analysis. In choosing our mods, we often realize that each choice will either haunt or delight us for the rest of our lives. Making such a highly significant decision may force an individual to step back and take a look at his/her life thus far. This process allows one to determine what events or people have been meaningful enough to deserve a permanent place in one’s life. Choosing our mods not only leads to a look back on the past, but may also trigger a long, hard look at one’s direction in life. We may be compelled to wonder “How will this mod inspire me in the future?,” “How will it portray this particular time in my life?” or even “Where am I going, and am I happy with that path?” These are all questions that have the potential to alter one’s view of his/her life, or even to alter the life itself.
It seems that every day I come to recognize something new and remarkable about the concept of body modification. I now see that although there are many ways in which a person can form and express his/her identity, body modification is an extremely fun (well, for modders at least) way to do so. Planning mods and modding itself can both be catalysts for personal discovery, and certainly have been for me. So if you feel as if you don’t have a full understanding of your own life and identity, start designing your next permanent mod. It just may be the beginning of a new outlook on your inner self.