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Full Version: The body mod spectrum, from make-up to liposuction and breast implants
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Something I've been thinking about recently is where the levels of social acceptability lie for body modification - although perhaps I should call this 'aesthetic modification'.

At one end of the spectrum we have very temporary stuff, such as make-up or clothing. Corsets change the figure of the wearer and are considered slightly risque but nothing very special.

Then there are acceptable but more intrusive things, such as dying your hair, waxing/shaving.

Going beyond that you have the mildest of mods, such as botox and filler injections - these are breaking the skin, but in the mildest of ways and have a temporary effect.

Stepping up you get to piercings - these are funny ones because their acceptability depends on where the piercing is, who you are with, and your social status, so these can, I think range across all levels of the spectrum, from very acceptable (ear piercing), to very extreme (skull horn implants).

Tattoos are probably the next step - permanent and socially devisive, but increasingly acceptable. Their culture is rich, but they are generally shunned by the British middle classes and accepted happily by everyone else. They have both the permanence and the skin-breaking aspect that makes them more extreme than many piercings, and the pain aspect shouldn't be overlooked.

Moving on, you get to cosmetic surgery, but even there I think there's a spectrum of acceptability. I had a hair transplant a few years ago and some people have great difficulty in believing this, as if it would be unthinkable to do something so strange. I know quite a large amount of women who say they would consider surgery on their breasts, either to make them larger, or smaler, or to lift them if they sag in later years. Breast reduction is very accepted, breast lifts are less accepted, whereas breast implants are generally considered a little odd, as if the woman clearly has self-esteem issues. Men also have 'muscle' implants that visually appear to be muscle but are non-functional body mass.

Likewise, the removal of sagging skin, such as by a tummy-tuck or face-lift seems slightly more acceptable than liposuction where people often say they feel like they have cheated somehow.

I also heard recently that there is an irreversible process to turn brown eyes blue.


I also think that immunisations are augmentations too, but I'll stick to only aesthetic treatments here.

To me, these things are a spectrum and it seems odd to accept one end without accepting a whole chunk more of it. The reason I've been thinking about this is that after years of regular training and healthy eating I've reached the peak of my aesthetic limits that I can reach without stepping up to serious hardcore cardio workouts and protein-only diets, but I want to take it further and so I've decided to have liposuction on areas that teh exercise has never seemed to touch. Even typing this feels like breaking some kind of taboo - like people aren't supposed to admit these kinds of things in public. What makes one end of the spectrum acceptable and another taboo? I don't feel like I'm cheating - I've worked hard to be fit and looked after myself well, but I know there are limits. I am very happy with my body, in particular my strength and level of fitness, but I do want to aesthetically take it further.

To put it another way: to say 'I think my skin looks better with non-natural pigmentation in it (tattoos)' is widely socially accepted, but to say 'I want to have a slim waist and I'm okay to have it sucked out' is considered differently.

This is more of a musing than a debate, it's just something that interests me.
I think about this one a lot. The obvious answer is that it's down to personal taste. I'm odd in that I find some of the more full on body modifications fine. But find it difficult to get my head around wearing skimpy clothes in the winter, or people unable to go down to the local shop to do the weekly grocery shop without all their makeup and stuff.

There's the aspect of people liking what they see role models do too. I don't think it's any accident that so many people dress how they do in Hollywood with Hollywood weather regardless of what it's like where they live personally. Or that it has become so fashionable to become tanned even in the cold (which to my personal taste looks ridiculous). I hear the origin of tanning being a fashion statement started with the invention of the plane. Rich people could afford to travel to hot countries, and with travel being so fast, they could still have the tan they gained to show off at home. Over time the poorer would attempt to emulate the rich via staining their skin and ultimately the old opinion that being pale and pure was beautiful gave way to tanning being the "in thing".

I think it's normal to want your appearance to match how you feel about your identity and to even just enjoy your appearance. I also think the image of yourself you hold of yourself is easily influenced by the world. For some people it's by society as a whole, for some people it's specifically people you admire and for some people they just want to match their interests or own emotional states. Some people want to look show their personality, and some people just want to avoid looking like certain personalities.

If I was to guess based on a hunch, I'd say a large portion of people are heavily influenced by society in general and judge people based on society in generals views. I'd say it's less that people there are any "objectively" taboo things, but just things that are still too uncommon to be accepted generally. Some massively impracticle things are accepted and mocking them is considered tantamount to blasphemy. As an example, look at what high heeled shoes do to your body. But because they're so embedded into public consciousness as normal, and great and fashionable, pointing it out is considered being rude.

My personal tastes are a mixed bag like most peoples. I like some piercings (tongues, ears, and some (but not all) lip piercings), not a fan of others (nose, belly buttons, back of the neck). Not a great fan of cosmetic surgery unless it's good enough that I can't tell without being told. I love tattoos though I am taking an age to get my own. I like make up for special occasions but find it a bit over the top for daily use. Stuff like metal spike implants and stuff fascinate the science nerd in me, but I don't like them aesthetically.

I had more to say.. can't remember what that was.
I think there are good reasons for this to be a difficult subject - there are two sides of this: it is healthy to be happy about ourselves and accept who we are, but it is also healthy to want to improve ourselves. Trying to work out when the desire for change becomes a negative process is really rather difficult, and it's something that bothers me.

I'm a very malleable person to my own will. When I want to do something I generally go and do it, and I worry that my decisions might get stranger as I get more empowered by previous choices. I don't think that's happening, after all, the last aesthetic thing I want to do after the next few months is orthodonistry to straighten my teeth, which on the scale of body mods is considered utterly normal. I think I'm on the healthy side of desiring change - understanding that it is a choice, not a process that is essential to my happiness - nonetheless, I'm cautious of my own thoughts and poke them regularly to give them a health check.
Do body modifications actually have any effect on self-esteem, though? I feel like as long as you're doing something because it's something you want (like, straighter teeth, or an awesome tattoo), then it's probably a healthy thing to do. If, however, you're doing something because you're uncomfortable with yourself and just want to conform to someone else's definition of beauty for an esteem boost, then it's probably only a temporary fix. I think that's where people addicted to plastic surgery come from. They'll be unhappy with themselves regardless of how much work they get done, and I think that's the point where it becomes an unhealthy habit.

Personally, I don't think I have any body modifications done right now. I mean, I cut my hair, shave, and wear clothes, but I don't have any piercings or tattoos at the moment. In the near future, I really want to get the New Jedi Order symbol tattooed on my forearm, and maybe get some nipple and other piercings. I love Star Wars, and the others will be enjoyable.

So, iunno. Hard topic. I'm generally comfortable with people doing whatever they want to their own bodies, I just get kind of sad when they do it for the wrong reasons.
as far as self esteem, yes, though it can be pretty short-lasting depending on whether your self esteem presents a regular problem in your daily life or not.
when i got my newer tattoos, i felt hotter naked. i hadn't even lost weight at this point, i just liked what i saw. wink.gif following that, i want to get my nipples pierced. most people don't understand because i don't have a significant other right now, but it's more for me, because *i* like nipple piercings. so yeah, i'm pretty sure that they can give you a little lift in how you view yourself, especially where doing hair and makeup is concerned for most women - the same could be said for my facial piercings. i miss the monroe/side labrets and feel (very mildly) less attractive without them. i like to try and find subtle ways to say 'yes, i'm blond and 'conventional' looking, but the blond is on the whiter side, i have a nose ring, i have arm and hand and chest and foot tattoos, and i always have a slight wing on my eyeliner'. that way, i can go to work but still crawl out of the stamped caucasian blond girl box on the side.

they can also have a negative impact as well - on the smaller end of the problem tree, i wish i hadn't colored in my stars and am looking to outline them in slate grey/blue so that there's a little more creativity to them. (with the next two being outlined in black and filled in with that color)..i'm so pale/fair/sensitive skinned that the black looks good, but it's more plain than i would have wanted and the artist who did the first 10 was amateur enough to do it so that they blurred a little bit on the edges. my current artist tried to fix this, but only partially succeeded. when i moisturize and haven't been scratched or exposed to anything i'm allergic to (this is more common than you think), they look pretty crisp, but it's still something i worry about. on the bigger end, i had a bad cutting habit as a teenager and some of the scars are still visible, again, because i'm so fair. most people don't notice them if we're just chatting or having a business interaction, but others will based on the time spent together. that's embarrassing and not the kind of body mod i want seen at this state in life.. and i do consider them body mods as they were made voluntarily at the time. i have a bird's foot scar that was made the same way, but that one is very small and wasn't done in a bad emotional state, so i like it. smile.gif

as far as clothes, i don't care what other women wear, as that seems to be very controversial. if i see a girl wearing daisy dukes in winter, my opinion is mostly 'i wish i were as confident as it~' and i feel the same about cosmetic surgery. well, except when i'm a hypocrite and think it looks terrible, but obviously they didn't *know* how bad it would look beforehand..right?

and i'd get my boobs done. i love my boobs now because they're cute and aesthetically pleasing, but i wouldn't mind going up a cupsize or two. they aren't small now at a C cup, but they don't completely match my kim kardashian ass. it's all about proportions. look at ice T's wife, coco! (well, maybe not that big..)

as for shaving, i'm annoyed at my body hair on women phobia. there's no reason why female body hair shouldn't be acceptable, but personally, i find it unattractive despite knowing there's nothing wrong with it and keep myself very meticulously groomed. i would even go so far as to say i'd prefer a girl i was dating shaved/waxed her legs at the very least, but what a person is and isn't attracted to shouldn't be subject for discrimination because we can't really help it.

please, welcome me to the 'messy chain of thought cut off at a random point' party! hey wittles, looking good! wink.gif
If I see a woman wearing hotpants in the winter over here I think 'dead by dawn', but it gets to minus fifteen celcius even during the daytime during the winter so that kind of clothing is borderline suicidal! Actually, the Dutch women seem very sensible about winter clothing compared to the UK - thick tights are the minimum I usually see on women during the winter. It's a bit different from Vegas, where the winter is probably what the UK and NL would describe as 'cool'.
What Mata said. I feel the same about skimpy clothes in the winter as I do about wearing sun glasses at night and then having difficulty seeing. When I see someone shivering their arse off at the bus stop starting to look more and more like death I just think. "Why? You idiot." Calantyr isn't around much these days so I can mock him. He used to wear shades at night to look cool and almost walk into things. I WISH he had just so I could forever had the memory of that foolishness.
I think you might actually consider winter in Vegas warm, but that's simply going off of stereotypes since I've only been there in the summer. Also the UK is warmer in the winter than I was led to believe before coming out here. That's beside the point though. I have found myself saying, "They should put some clothes on!" when walking home at night seeing girls lined up outside of clubs or pubs. I figured that was just me getting old.

I think body modification can be good, though in some cases it does get a bit out of hand. I personally don't care for face tattoos, or things like spikes in the head or magnetic plates under the scalp to allow for changing metal head accessories, but I think people who do it are doing it for that extreme factor and that's their choice.

I think it's more the people who do have surgery to make themselves look like the ideal and just have more and more things changed about them. For instance, a woman who has been having surgeries for years to look like a Barbie Doll (Strangely I can't find a link for the one I'm thinking of, but apparently there are more than one). Since the actual dimensions of a Barbie aren't naturally possible, trying to surgically alter oneself to that standard is a bit much and points to some mental issues. To go away from that extreme however, I think it's more the people who have the work done and then look fake that I don't really like.

Getting a bit of lipo to take off a problem area when you've been working out for years that won't just go away, seems more than fine. Having a tummy tuck to get rid of excess skin after weight loss also seems fine. It's more of those things that are to fix the small issues that you can't otherwise solve yourself that seem more ok. I am a bit torn on that though, because I do think people should be able to do whatever they want to themselves and if it is more on the extreme level of it, just be aware of the consequences of pushing societal norms and realize how people are going to react to you. For instance knowing people are going to think you're a bit of a freak if you try to look like Barbie or cover your face in tattoos. As long as you're aware of this factor and willing to deal with it, rather than just get angry at anyone who isn't accepting, then ok fine.

Personally, I've considered liposuction and a breast reduction. Getting liposuction does feel like a bit of a cheat though, when I haven't put enough effort into losing weight properly though (aside from moving to England). I figured that would always be an "if I won the lottery pipedream." The breast reduction would be more because my boobs are too huge and they cause back problems. Also they've sagged since I got them, so it would be nice to see what non-old lady boobs look like. This one again is a maybe if I had lots of money thing, because while I would have some relief on my back, I would still have back issues from other problems and I might lose some sensation in my breasts. I kind of like being able to feel them properly for things like sex.
I love that moving to England is considered a valid weight-loss strategy for an American biggrin.gif

I definitely agree with your point about extreme body mods - the people changing themselves need to be accepting, to an extent, that the changes will probably shock people.

In an amusing twist of things, I'm having surgery on my nose to correct a breathing problem and a few Dutch people asked if I was having my nose changed too - I wasn't, but they all seemed to think it was such a normal thing to do it got me thinking 'why not?' so I'll be getting a nose-job while they correct my breathing passages! So, I guess I'm really changing a lot over the next few months biggrin.gif
I expect you to have breasts by the next time I see you.
QUOTE (Mata @ Oct 26 2012, 04:57 PM) *
In an amusing twist of things, I'm having surgery on my nose to correct a breathing problem and a few Dutch people asked if I was having my nose changed too - I wasn't, but they all seemed to think it was such a normal thing to do it got me thinking 'why not?' so I'll be getting a nose-job while they correct my breathing passages! So, I guess I'm really changing a lot over the next few months biggrin.gif

You forget why they think it's normal. It's two operations for the price of one =D
QUOTE (Mata @ Oct 26 2012, 07:57 AM) *
I love that moving to England is considered a valid weight-loss strategy for an American biggrin.gif

Well it did mean giving up my car and actually walking places. Parking and petrol are just too expensive over here to justify driving the short distances I would have done if I were home. Also there aren't as many drive through fast food places, so I don't have the easy excuse to be lazy and just drive to get some crap food, so I mostly eat what Fuzzy or I cook. I still don't eat the healthiest of things and could probably do more than just walk to places, but in the little over a year I've been here I've lost 80 pounds (5.714 stone) (hit that mark today). I don't think I'm doing all that much and am amazed everyday that the loss hasn't plateaued yet. It also really pisses off my family that I've lost that much and still eat nice food for the most part. So yeah, I guess moving here is a valid weight-loss strategy. Perhaps they should make petrol as expensive in the states to battle the obesity issue.

Related to this topic, I forgot to mention my own tattoos. I have eyes tattooed on my back and have to deal with the fact that it creeps some people out. Sometimes even men, when it comes to sex. (Not an issue at the moment, since Fuzzy is good enough to know they don't function and not let it get to him.) I once had a guy tell me he liked me, but he would never be able to have sex doggy style with me without covering them up with post-it notes or a cape or something. lol I knew they would creep some people out though and so that's why I had them put somewhere I can usually cover with clothing. The occasional eyelash sticks out of my shirt though, but the point is, it kind of goes with the having to realize that not all people are going to be accepting of it.
useless addition: it's about 25F/-3.8C at the very lowest here in winter.

helpful(?) addition: i like fake nails too. short ones, considering my job.
QUOTE (Pikasyuu @ Oct 26 2012, 07:45 PM) *
i like fake nails too

I'm not sure I'd want to be around if you and Frog ever met. I think you'll be an explosive combo.
Lurker in the Park
This is probably going to sound really odd, but I have less of a thing about even the more extreme body mod stuff (screw implants, corset piercings, tongue splitting) than I do about liposuction. I think it's because the former is body augmentation - doing stuff that you can't do naturally, whereas the latter provokes a 'just try harder' reaction, despite the fact that I know you can't do any more.

I'm also against nosejobs but thats something I inherited from my parents (cilla Black had one, never sounded the same again, let's not go there, it's a weird place to pick up prejudices).

On the other hand, if you've thought about it and decided that you want to do it, then I have no right to stand here and say you shouldn't. Before, during and after pics are required though.
I fully intend to be absolutely knocked out for the nose surgery (they have to break internal structures and cut out chunks from inside my head to improve my breathing). If I'm awake to take photos then I'll have more important things to worry about than photography!

I know what you mean about the 'just try harder' thing, which was mostly my attitude until I joined a gym about 18 months ago, worked my arse off five times a week doing lots of cardio and weights, with the grand result of making my muscles bigger but zero difference to my body-fat ratio. As you say, there is further I could go, but I don't usually eat red meat, I go weeks between fizzy drinks, I don't eat lots of chocolate, I cook most of my meals from fresh ingredients, and I drink in moderation... In terms of calorie intake I should be slowly dropping weight every week, and I'm still exercising several times per week with a good mix of cardio and weight training on different days. You know, I think eventually you reach a balance point where you've got to say to yourself that you have three options: go all the way with the crazy fitness/diet obsession, you give up on your goal and accept the way you are, or you take another route. Out of the three, the crazy level of fitness obsession actually seems the least healthy - the lengths you have to go to if you've not naturally inclined towards skinniness are really extreme (I thought going to the gym five times a week was extreme enough but apparently my body disagreed). I'm choosing to take the other route.

I do feel a bit differently about implants to make muscles look bigger - I can't help but think that actually makes the muscles even less functional, which seems a really odd thing to do, but I guess if it's only the look that matters then that's fine.

As for a nose-job while getting other surgery done? Well, while I'm there... biggrin.gif It's not something that I think I would have had done if it weren't doubling up with another, already incredibly invasive, surgery. I'd thought about changing my nose but it hadn't really bothered me to any extent that it would be a major issue, but since the option is available I figured why not?
When I was younger I thought any sort of cosmetic surgery was vain. I think I'm mellowing out to the idea. I still sort of judge people a little bit if they're doing it for a cosmetic reason, but I'm becoming more aware of my prejudices towards that to fix it. It's briefly flashed through my mind how much easier it would be for me to lose weight if I could just lipo it off! As it is I have to count calories, but at least that is working. I think it is an interesting point though - if one body mod is acceptable, why isn't another? It's a weird thing to think about, why we think that way. I don't mind piercings and tattoos and think they look better on some people than others - I might get a tattoo if I ever think of something I really want and I want to pierce my ears more. I can understand hair transplants, especially now that I'm dating a couple of men who are balding at 24, which sucks - hell, I'd want hair transplants if I balded that early! Personally I don't see myself doing anything radical - maybe a breast reduction. I want to lose weight to make the weight on my chest more manageable, and I should hopefully drop a cup size or two, but I'm a G right now (yikes!) and I already have back/neck problems at 22. I'm really hoping with some weight loss and maintenance I won't have to though - I wouldn't want to lose sensation, and it would just be so strange and scary.

My favorite part of Western society is that my unshaven pits are viewed as on par with most body mods as far as "extreme self choices" go, when I am just lazy/OK with myself.
yeah, unshaven pits i don't understand.
in other news, nipple piercings are +10 on the self esteem scale. that said, i'd prefer getting my two and a half hour foot tattoo over again on the pain scale. ow.
the hour following felt like someone was doing a kerosene and flame nipple roast inside my bra.
I'm trying to figure out why I think armpit hair is gross. I know that it's silly that it is, especially considering that I'm fine with people having pubes and leg hair on women. Iunno. I think it's gross on guys, too, at least when it's completely out of control. Maybe it's because armpits can be smelly, and the hair might contribute to that?

I'm gonna do an experiment and let my armpit hair grow out a little to see if I still think it's gross in a week or so. Got a nice little millimeter or so going already anyways. I mean, what's a better way to get over an unreasonable prejudice than to do it to yourself?

@Syuu: Hawt.
Yeah, armpit hair is weird. If we're not grossed out by it on men, then why on women? I used to shave my armpits EVERY day... I have since calmed down and do it every few. But once it gets to a certain length, razor time. However, I don't usually find it that repulsive on other women - especially since compared to men there's so little. But I do shave now based solely on my personal gross-out factor - how unappealing do I find my armpits/legs? Time to shave? I probably only bother with my legs now every two or three weeks.
tbh i mind leg hair and pubic hair (on myself) moreso than armpit hair. that said, i've never grown it out. the western ideal of female beauty is so beaten in that something that shouldn't be unattractive for any reason is..even when we know, consciously, that there's nothing wrong with it.
Yeah I wonder if I'll ever be *completely* over that--there are times when I feel amazing and powerful and sexy as hell with my lil tufts going, and times when I just want to fashion long sleeves out of leaves and twigs and hide myself until I can get to a Lady Bic. Also going more than three months without shaving, I have a pretty dece amount of hair--not as thick as a dude probably, but quite long. Wasn't there a thread about this somewhere? I'll have to dig that up.

Also for the whole society thing--it helps to sleep with boys who are into it, of which there are a surprising amount! YAY SEX-MEDIATED SELF-ESTEEM!
Tbh, I only bother with shaving my legs because I don't grow hair on the back of them, and there's a gap between my knee and my shin. I've never actually given the hair a chance to grow out very long, but if I did, it would just look silly.

Yeah, I was actually surprised by the last guy I was with, who asked a few times why I even bothered shaving.
I've shaved my armpits for about 15 years now. I'm not replused by hair there, but I think it looks nicer without it and I personally think I find it less sweaty without underarm hair. There's no social pressure for men to shave there, that I'm aware of at least, and I've known a couple of girls who found it rather weird when they noticed, but overall most women seem to prefer it.

We're an odd species.
Armpit update! The hair is maybe 5mm long now, which is definitely longer than I've ever let it be. Part of me is tempted to wear a sleeveless shirt somewhere. The other part of me still thinks that's gross and doesn't want to prematurely blow it in case I meet someone hot. I'd say it doesn't have a positive factor on the esteem scale, but it's not exactly making me feel bad about myself. However, I have the "It's No-Shave November, don't judge me" excuse. I'd probably feel a lot weirder if it were any other month.
maybe the hot person is turned on/intrigued by girls who drift outside the 'norm' in a way everyone can see right off the bat?
what a sweet story to tell people :3
I once met a female street performer who had one armpit shaved and the other fully grown. As part of her routine it was a joke that she had a feminine side and a masculine side. Now that's dedication!
QUOTE (Pikasyuu @ Nov 11 2012, 03:41 AM) *
maybe the hot person is turned on/intrigued by girls who drift outside the 'norm' in a way everyone can see right off the bat?
what a sweet story to tell people :3

Yeah, but then I'd be seeing someone that's into freaky chicks. rolleyes.gif


I've come to the conclusion that I'd sleep with a chick with armpit hair as long as she didn't ask me to lick her armpit or something ridiculous.
lol, don't knock it til you try it, kid!
To be honest I don't think men really care all that much (or women, but since I haven't been with women I can't be sure) about body hair, as long as they get you naked and get to do things. Some might more than others, but hell I've been lazy with my leg shaving for at least a month now because I'm trying to extend my razor life and it doesn't seem much of an issue. I think shaving has been more for my own comfort and esteem than anything else.
Well, I had liposuction last week... I'm swollen and bruised, but even in this state, three months away from healing to close to the final result, I now have a ridiculously flat stomach. It's pretty cool actually. The healing process has been pretty unpleasant so far, but having a terrible cough and cold days after getting lipo all over your torso was never going to help much. Even without the cold, I suspect it wouldn't have been much fun.

The surgery itself was interesting. Not painful as such (most of the time - it was occasionally when the anaesthetic hadn't reached an area properly, so they added more before continuing) more uncomfortable and really, really intense. Basically they make a few small incisions in the skin then push in long (20-30cms, I guess) rods pumping out anaesthetic fluid under your skin. The pressure of the fluid pushes the skin away from the flesh beneath and does something to make the fat suckable. They then pump out the fat with another ridiculously long rod.

Even though I was reasonably slim, there was 1.9 litres of fat on me, and after only a week the change is very visible, which suggests it's going to be a very dramatic difference indeed once the swelling has gone down completely in a couple of months.

At the moment there is some numbness in some of the skin - the nerves get bruised by the surgery and so take a little while to wake up again. This should take a few weeks and will likely be prickly or tickly while they reactivate.

Overall, I'm quite chuffed with it, but it's definitely taken a bit of endurance too.

Next up: More tattoos in February. I'm due to have surgery to fix my the breathing in my nose some time later this year, and I'm getting a slight nose alteration done then too, and I can finally afford to get my teeth straightened, so I'll be doing that too. After... Just more tattoos probably!
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