Wednesday, August 09, 2006
I’m constantly trying to figure out what it is that makes us modders tick, and an advertisement that I recently saw led to some thinking that might give a clue. The ad was for a popular online dating website called True.com, and involved a caricatured man and woman. The man was caricatured with certain “nerdy” (i.e. large glasses, highwater pants, slicked hair) features accentuated, and the woman was caricatured with certain “attractive” (i.e. tiny waist, blonde flowing hair, blue eyes with eyelashes that were actually batting) features accentuated. The caption read “Lose the Losers. Find a Better Boyfriend”. Upon further study of the ad, I noticed that the woman’s hands were excessively large. That was the part of the ad that really made me think. What if, in our society, large hands on a woman were considered completely grotesque and a potbelly was an attractive feature? Or what if large glasses and slicked hair on a man were a total turn on? The ad would then take on a far different meaning! Instead of seeing a woman who needs to lose her “loser” boyfriend, we would be immediately aware that this ad was geared toward hunky men who need to drop their slim-waisted honeys for some beer-belly beauties.
So what does any of this have to do with body modification? In her book “In the Flesh: The Cultural Politics of Body Modification,” Victoria Pitts writes about the use of body modification to reject the beauty ideals that are more or less forced upon us. I would like to believe that society and culture play no part in my conception of beauty, and that I live by my own opinions regarding physical appearance, but this is just not so. Society instills us at an early age with the belief that our cultural beauty ideals are inherently correct. As a result, no one questions an extremely skinny young girl as to whether she has an eating disorder, but many people are quick to make comments regarding a little lip ring or gauged ears.
I don’t know if standing up for my right to be modified has changed anyone’s view on the subject of beauty standards, but it seems to me that if someone is open-minded enough, they will eventually re-examine their aesthetic preferences once aware of their ignorance. Such an awareness on the global scale might even eradicate the concept of racial discrimination. If there is no “preferred” way to look, we would all really be equal. Finally.
Hell, I bet that even my body mod preferences are culturally influenced. Why am I drawn toward certain piercings, and repelled by others? Would I want a tribal design on my lower back if it wasn’t considered overdone and cliché? I don’t know…this is just another one of my ramblings that I hope will eventually lead to the answers I’m searching for.
Oh yea, PS, yesterday I was linked to by one of my favvvvorite modification blogs, Modified News. You can check out the post here, which includes a link to a blog I wrote for BME’s Modblog last week.