Body art involves decorating the skin of human body. It can be done in various ways such as tattooing, shaping, painting, body piercing, branding, scalpelling and scarification. The kind of body art may be limited to one’s gender because in some communities certain arts are limited to one gender. However, females are considered to be more concerned about body art.
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Tattoos are permanent body drawings that are done using needles to make the paints penetrate beyond the upper layer of skin. Some people use tattoos as a way of adding beauty while others use it for identification purposes (Margo 14). Tattoos were first developed in ancient Japan and later spread to other parts of the world. Nowadays tattoos are the in thing among young people and that’s why the demand for tattoo artists has increased.
According to Margo tattoos are used to distinguish certain members of a group from the others. Tattoos are not limited to certain body parts and thus they can be drawn anywhere (15). Most Christians apart from the Catholic Church are against because they argue that the Holy Scriptures is against tattoos. Tattoos are associated to criminal groups depending on one’s location. They are also known to reflect a person’s behavior. In recent years they were mostly associated with porn stars.
A cross check on various religions indicate that religions don’t accept tattoos as an art. Tattoos can not be erased completely and even so a laser technique is employed. Traditional methods of tattooing can spread viral diseases such as AIDS because the tools come into contact with blood hence if they are not sterilized diseases could be transmitted from one person to another. Nowadays tattoo artists sterilize their equipments after they have been used by one client.
Scarification includes inducing body scars by scratching or cutting the surface of the skin into various shapes. This kind of body art is recommended for people who are of a dark complexion. This is because tattoos are more visible when the surface of the skin is lighter in complexion.
The intended shape of a scar may not be achieved because the wound usually contracts and stretches at different points. Scarification is not preferred by many people because of the obvious pain associated with it. It also exposes one to contracting HIV/Aids if the tools are not sterilized. This art is very rare today because most people have abandoned traditional practices.
Body piercing entails making small holes that are used to hold jewelry. It can be done on various parts but it’s limited to various organs unlike tattooing because it can cause irritation when done on some parts of the body such as the buttocks. Body piercing is usually done to nose and ears.
Stephen argues that most people pierce their body to add beauty but then this beauty may only be realized by the beholder because some of them are done in parts that are not visible unless one is naked (5). In traditional societies piercing were common among males and females but the emergence of modern culture has discouraged body piercing among men.
In today’s world men who pierce their bodies are perceived to be social misfits such as homosexuals and criminals. Some people make sure they reveal their piercing by wearing clothes that don’t cover the pierced part. For instance women put on tops that are above the navel to display their pierced navel. Body piercing can bring about wounds that take long durations to heal but this is caused by sharing un-sterilized piercing tools.
Body painting is another element of body art that is very popular. It’s done by applying wet paint on the skin. Several colors can be blended or isolated to create diversity. When painting is done on ones face it’s called face painting. Body painting is employed in various fields such as sports and military.
In sports arena fans paint their bodies with colors that resemble their respective teams as a sign of solidarity. On the other hand troops paint their uncovered body parts with jungle green color to match with the environment which makes it difficult for their enemies to spot them. Paintings can only last for a very short period before they ware out but they can last longer if the paint used was mixed with oil.
In conclusion, body art is not allowed in work places and learning institutions because employers argue that it’s not decent and thus it may give the wrong impression about an organization. The person who bears body art may be very innocent but then people address people according to the way they present themselves.
Margo, Demello. Bodies of inscription: A cultural history of the modern Tattoo community, California. Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2000.
Stephen, Gilbert. Tattoo History: a source Book, New York: Juno Books, 2001.