Body Modification Is a Form of Self-Mutilation

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Body modification, a form of self-mutilation, has grown in popularity in western culture. It is widely supported by celebrities and the media, becoming as prevalent as women getting their hair done. Furthermore, these procedures are easily accessible and can be conveniently obtained at shopping malls. Body modification involves intentionally changing the body for nonmedical purposes.

In her article titled “Body Modification Is a Form of Self-Mutilation,” Shelia Jeffreys, an associate professor of political science at the University of Melbourne, delves into different types of body modification such as tattooing, piercing, and cosmetic surgery. Jeffreys asserts that these practices can be considered as self-mutilation, which she attributes to a male-dominated society that refuses acceptance towards homosexuality and diverse body shapes. Moreover, she proposes that this society encourages pornography through mainstream media.

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The text emphasizes that self-harm is a way for individuals to cope with different problems, such as low social status, sexual and physical abuse, and severe emotional distress. Jeffreys states that those who engage in self-harm also have self-hatred. It is noted that women and homosexuals are more likely to participate in self-harm, with over two million young women regularly engaging in it in the US. Sadly, self-harm has become a widespread trend in today’s society where it is often seen as fashionable rather than an intentional method of feeling pain and seeking inner purification, as Jeffrey points out. Piercing, originally associated with homosexuality, has now become popularized with models showcasing noticeable piercings on the catwalk.

There are individuals who engage in extreme body modification, joining online networks where they can pay to view pictures of fresh blood, castration, and other extreme acts. According to Jeffreys, self-mutilation is predominantly performed by others for financial gain or sexual arousal, such as surgeons, piercers, or sadists. Cosmetic surgery is the most prevalent and hazardous form of mutilation. The growth of the sex industry in the United States and the demand from male purchasers resulted in the development of silicone injections that caused more harm than breast implants.

The text recognizes that there are health risks and concerns linked to various forms of body modifications, with some being more severe than others. Jeffreys suggests that all types of body modification can be perceived as self-harm stemming from a strong self-dislike caused by male dominance in society. Although Jeffreys provides evidence supporting her claim that tattoos, piercings, and cosmetic surgery are acts of self-mutilation, she overlooks the significance of long-standing cultural traditions and lacks understanding for individuals who need plastic surgery to correct physical deformities.

The genre of being an online article allows Jeffrey to freely express herself; however, in doing so, she fails to consider her audience’s personal beliefs and practices. Her main target audience consists of those who have or desire body modifications. The purpose of the article is to educate the audience about how piercing, tattooing, and cosmetic surgery can be seen as forms of self-mutilation and may be pursued by individuals who harbor self-hatred. Jeffreys believes her opinion to be the norm, indicating a lack of consideration for her audience’s beliefs.

Many people choose to get tattoos and piercings not because they seek pain or a way to modify their bodies. The argument made by Jeffrey labels these individuals as self-mutilators and proxies, using impactful language to enhance its influence on readers. However, despite leaving an impression, Jeffrey’s points are insensitive and narrow-minded, dismissing the influence of a dominant male society on their choices and denying the emotional connection individuals have with their bodies.

Jeffreys shows ethnocentrism by judging and classifying body modification according to her own criteria. She fails to comprehend and sympathize with traditional cultural customs by grouping piercing and tattoos together as acts of self-harm. In tribal regions like Africa, South America, India, and Asia, piercings and tattoos are vital aspects of cultural heritage.

Tattoos and piercings are not just acts of self-harm, but rather they are ways to showcase beauty, bravery, the crossing into adulthood, prosperity, and beliefs. Moreover, these body alterations distinguish tribes from each other, emphasizing their importance. These modifications carry significance and represent one’s identity by highlighting their distinct qualities or traits. In terms of tribal customs, Jeffrey opposes acts of self-harm such as cutting oneself, body piercing, getting tattoos, and cosmetic surgery (pg. 1).

How can Jeffreys oppose cultural traditions that have been practiced for centuries? How can he go against one’s identity? Many of these traditions have now become western traditions. For many young people today, getting a piercing or tattoo is considered a significant milestone and holds as much meaning as traditional practices. In addition to opposing personal identity, Jeffreys also disagrees with the choice of cosmetic surgery. She sees cosmetic surgery as one of the most extreme forms of body modification and self-harm.

Jeffreys labeling cosmetic surgery as self-mutilation performed by profit-driven surgeons demonstrates her lack of empathy. However, her categorization unfairly groups all cosmetic procedures as forms of self-mutilation, disregarding the necessity of certain procedures. Individuals born with deformities, those who have suffered developmental issues, or injuries may require cosmetic surgery to address their specific needs. In emergency medical situations, cosmetic surgery plays a crucial role in repairing the appearance of wounds and can even facilitate amputation procedures.

Homosexual individuals often opt for cosmetic surgery, specifically sex reassignment surgery. This choice is criticized by Jeffreys as she views it as a profitable form of mutilation. Her disapproval of these procedures reveals a lack of understanding towards individuals grappling with gender dysphoria and shows that she relies on her own moral values. Nonetheless, undergoing a sex change can have multiple benefits including increased self-esteem and the opportunity to find inner tranquility.

The decision to undergo cosmetic surgery should be left solely to the individual, as everyone has the right to maintain autonomy over their own body. Cosmetic procedures can greatly benefit one’s mental well-being, especially when someone is dissatisfied with a specific physical feature. If having cosmetic surgery will genuinely bring happiness and emotional stability to an individual, there is no justification for discouraging them from pursuing it. It is crucial for Jeffreys or anyone else to acknowledge that people handle personal imperfections differently.

Certain procedures, including liposuction, can assist individuals in losing weight and reducing their risk of disorders and diseases caused by obesity – a condition marked by the excessive accumulation and storage of body fat. However, Jeffreys has overlooked the bigger picture regarding cosmetic surgery, as not all outcomes are negative. In summary, Jeffreys categorizes piercing, tattoos, and cosmetic surgery as forms of self-mutilation performed by others for profit, grouping these procedures under a broad classification.

Shelia Jeffreys’ lack of compassion, empathy, and care for her audience is evident in her failure to consider traditional cultural practices and the individual’s need for modification due to physical deformities from birth and accidents. She assumes that everyone should adhere to her standards, overlooking the broader and more complex topic of body modification. It is impossible to summarize all these issues in one narrow definition, as demonstrated in Jeffrey’s article “Body Modification as Self-Mutilation by a Proxy.” (Work Cited: Shelia Jeffreys, “Body Modification as Self-Mutilation by a Proxy,” On line Opinion Article, April 10, 2006.)

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Body Modification Is a Form of Self-Mutilation. (2018, Feb 08). Retrieved from

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