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Body Modification--or Mutilation?

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For some young adults, a tattoo just isn't enough.

Ever wonder what you would do if your kid came back from college with a tattoo or piercing? No biggie, right? Okay, now how about tongue splitting? Or elf ears? This isn't science fiction, it's body modification--an extreme mode of self-expression that's gaining popularity with teens and beyond.The scary truth is, if your kid is 18 years old, he or she can legally indulge in a myriad of procedures ranging from microdermal (studs or spikes implanted directly into the skin gives the effect that the jewelry is screwed right into the body) to ear shaping and stretching. The good news is that you can become educated on how and why kids feel the need to drastically alter their appearance.

Russ Foxx, a premier body modification artist in Vancouver, Canada, has been no stranger to the art of "bod mod"for the last eight years.He got his first ear piercing at the tender age of 5 with the blessing of his mom. From then on he was hooked; by the time he entered high school, he had 15 piercings--and then he says he "stretched them--practiced it on myself and took it to scarification and more advanced modification."

Technically, body modification is truly old school. People around the world have been piercing, tattooing and painting their bodies for ages. Even back in Egyptian times, royalty pierced their navels. Just like Britney Spears.

Fast forward to the present: Now all anyone needs to do is stroll into a body modification studio. All you have to be is 18 with proper I.D. Typically, says Foxx, his customers range from 24 to 35.

According to Russ, being 18 does not make a procedure a done deal. "More often than not, I won't do a procedure if I think they're making a bad choice--if they'll have regret in the future." To ensure he'll have a satisfied customer, Foxx sends them on their way. "I tell them to come back in a year. After they've done extensive research, if they still want to do the procedure by then, then I'll do it." Although Russ is cautious about whom he'll do his work on, he was once chewed out by the angry parent of a 18-year-old who got his eyebrow pierced. "I think the guy just wanted to blame someone, but his son had made his decision."

Most of Russ' menu of procedures aren't choices anyone should take lightly--especially the ear shaping. "It should be considered irreversible, warns Foxx. "It would take plastic surgery and your ear would never be the same."

One of Russ' young customers who just had the elf ear procedure... PAGE 2

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Check out our Body Modification Gallery
(WARNING: Some images are graphic)

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29 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous September 5, 2008, 4:11 PM

These kids are really STUPID.

a. September 5, 2008, 9:26 PM

don’t even get me started on the bad crap that starts because of this. body modification can be a beautiful thing, but it gets such a bad rap since most of it isn’t your “traditional” piercings such as your lobes.

Anonymous September 5, 2008, 11:33 PM

Body Mod is beautiful. I got a eternal teardrop piercing when my brother died, and a septum to commemorate ten years off the blow. Both of them are out now, but they were awesome, and I hope my daughter can find ways to meaningfully express herself when she’s old enough (be it ballet, body mod, or business school). And to the lady that said “these kids are stupid” I went from being huge into subculture to graduating top five from a great school and now I work a job at 75k. What do you do?

Anonymous September 6, 2008, 12:50 AM

What do I do?…I don’t do blow, I don’t mutilate my body, and I don’t define my self worth in dollars!

Anonymous September 6, 2008, 11:59 AM

Did they ever think about what they’re going to look like at 80?

Anonymous September 7, 2008, 12:36 AM

Yes, and I’m sure you’re absolutely perfect. Let me guess, crazy Christian? I feel bad for your kids.

Maureen September 8, 2008, 7:26 AM

Nevermind 80 how about when they go to get a substantial job. One where they expect a person to look professional. Can you just see the reaction to a split tongue or elf ears??? I mean come on.. these kids think for the moment but not the long term. And the thought that they will only work in jobs where it is accepted.. that may be true of their youth. But I guarantee many will be looking for a more professional position in the future.. and it WILL effect whether they are hired or not.

Also what are the long term effects of splitting their tongue?? I know someone who pierced her eyebrow and now has facial nerve damage.. cold days really hurt her face.. such a terrifically smart move on her part..

Anonymous September 8, 2008, 1:09 PM

Now, the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum,
What might be right for you, may not be right for some.
A man is born, he’s a man of means.
Then along come two, they got nothing but their jeans.

But they got, Diff’rent Strokes.
It takes, Diff’rent Strokes.
It takes, Diff’rent Strokes to move the world.

Everybody’s got a special kind of story
Everybody finds a way to shine,
It don’t matter that you got not alot
So what,
They’ll have theirs, and you’ll have yours, and I’ll have mine.
And together we’ll be fine….

Because it takes, Diff’rent Strokes to move the world.
Yes it does.
It takes, Diff’rent Strokes to move the world.

Anonymous September 8, 2008, 9:13 PM

There is nothing wrong with body modification, if that’s the way people want to represent themselves so be it. To each his own…

Anonymous September 8, 2008, 9:43 PM

Remember “Our bodies are not our own.” How dare we destory what God has given us to take care of? Everything God made was perfect and good. So why do we feel we need to alter that which is perfect? Personally this looks ugly and nasty to me! Do you think about long term affects?

jeremiah November 17, 2008, 12:00 AM

I am a follower of the lord jesus christ, And I have altered my body. And I feel that it has helped me to share my faith with others like me, that others maybe could’nt have. I don’t see body mods as bad, but some can border on folly. It’s a personal conviction.

Keiran November 29, 2008, 5:46 AM

As a person in the body modification industry and is heavily modded myself I must say this article was absolutely ludicrous. The “reasoning” stated for body modifications [the small list on page three] seemed absolutely absurd. Body modification is a beautiful thing. It isn’t about trying to stand out in society… because frankly it doesn’t. Body modification is everywhere. From the socially acceptable ear piercing, to the ‘shocking’ subdermal implant. I’ve found the main reasons people get body modifications is because they enjoy the feel of it, it represents a period in their life, they love the aesthetics of it, and because the specific modification has a spiritual/special meaning to them. This article was poorly thought out. I also don’t get why people so strongly believe that you can’t get jobs that require a professional appearance with body modifications. Alot of tattoos/scarifications/brands are easily covered with clothing, you can always put retainers in your piercing, and ear reshaping, tongue splitting, and other similiar types of modification really aren’t noticable unless you’re looking for it.

lindsey December 13, 2008, 9:31 PM

Damn, you mothers are BITCHY AS HELL.

Body modification is just a choice. Personally, I wouldn’t do it, and have never done anything to my body (save piercing my ears). I can understand what some of you are saying about not desecrating your body or whatever, because I wouldn’t want to do that; I like my body as it is. At the same time, it’s a way of expressing oneself. When kids are old enough, they should be able to make their own choice. Cut the umbilical cord, you freaky child-addicted mothers.

15 year teen  December 22, 2008, 8:41 PM

i think get piercing tattoos and ears gauged isn’t bad at all but splitting ur tongue or makin urself look like a freakin elf now thats STUPID

Vern Masterson January 12, 2009, 1:59 PM

There’s nothing inherently wrong with body modification, that much seems clear. I think it’s really the motive for getting something like that done that’s either “good” or “bad.” If the person gets mods done because they want attention, or for any other shortsighted reason (fads, etc…) I think it can safely be said that it won’t fulfill their needs, because they have nothing to do with their body in the first place. If, however, the mod is done as something symbolic, or perhaps to spark their memory of something important, then the modification will most likely serve just that purpose and be of value to the individual. In that mode of reasoning, all body mods, from tattoos to cutting, to piercing, have the potential of serving a person or harming them, depending on what’s driving their behavior.

holly January 12, 2009, 7:25 PM

If you are going to look down on people who have body mods, then you should also consider people who get plastic surgery. Yes, some plastic surgery is nessasary, such as, when someone gets in a accident. But, what about ladies who get boob jobs? What is the reason behind that? Well, it’s vanity. Plastic surgery is also a body mod. Piercings and tattoos “inhance” your appearance, while plastic surgery changes your body completely. Plastic surgery carries more risks then piercings or tattoos.

Now tell me who is stupid.

asian. February 5, 2009, 2:36 AM

I agree with Keiran. And also, by who decided society’s standards on what looks “professional”? A bunch of stuffy old guys in business suits and bad comb overs?
Just because someone practices body modification does not mean they are incapable of being professional…

Cilla February 9, 2009, 12:29 PM

I am 17 years old and I have a tattoo that i got because my best friend was killed, (which my parents TOOK me to gho get done, I also have piercings and plan on getting more work done (although i have no intentions on going as far as “elfing” or splitting my tongue etc). There is absolutely nothing wrong with body modification. If a person can do it and still be comfortable in their own skin, then who are you to judge them?
a few posts have mentioned God (and while i’m not christain or catholic) whatever happened to Only God Can Judge ME, huh? And besides, a large majority of religious followers(not all by any means), only refer to the bible when it suits them!

arth February 25, 2009, 11:14 AM

well i think that its your body and you should do what you want with it. you only live once. so you shouldnt let other people tell you how you should live it. and i dont see why it harms other people when they see someone with mods. if you dont like it then dont look at them. its that simple.

doc May 6, 2009, 12:33 PM

I have done several ear modification i think it is a trend that is here to stay. we can do everything we want so why not body modification???

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