When expecting a new child, all parents hope that everything will be ‘normal.’ In other words, all parents expect to have a baby that is free from any body deformations. How strange it is then that some of these babies grow up to be adults who deliberately deform their bodies as a form of self-expression. At other times some people go through body deformation processes against their own will because it is a part of their culture.
The right and wrong of body deforming practices is a debate; but the weirdness of it all is not a debate. Today we present to you 10 of the weirdest body deformation practices that currently exist or existed in the past.
Scarification is pretty much what it sounds like, supposed body beautification through the creation of scars on the body. They have actually taken this to art-form level, knowing exactly how deep to cut for what effect and understanding what affect each degree of burn will produce.
They even know how to optimize the process through the healing treatment. The technique is so developed that they have figured out how to release the brains endorphins, the chemical components that block pain and can put the person being scarred into a euphoric state of bliss during the procedure.
Scarification, or cicatrisation in French, is an elaborate form of deformation that has squirreled its way into most modern cultures. Scarification produces trauma to the skin; the scarification performer must have in-depth knowledge of the human skin to avoid excessively deep cuts or burning too hot for too long. It is hard to find qualified scarificators, perhaps because the procedure is not as popular as tattooing.
Scarification was used widely throughout history to mark people for status, accomplishments, and even as punishment. However, the coolest modification I have ever seen is where Brad Pitt slices swastikas on the forehead of the Nazi he lets live. In the immortal words of Aldo Raine, “You probably heard we ain’t in the prisoner-takin’ business; we in the killin’ Nazi business. And cousin, business is a-boomin’”.
- Racial Transformation
Michael Jackson. There, I said it and got it out of the way. Now you do not have to sit there after you read this item on our list and wonder what you just read because you were thinking about M.J. the whole time. Racial Transformation is not completely possible although many people have tried. Their motivations have varied from scientific curiosity to survival to just plain race envy. With the stigma that has been placed on certain races, often times the attempt to change one thing to be like a certain race turns out to be completely wrong to start with. For instance, many people consider the African race to be black, with kinky hair. In actuality, a true African usually has straighter hair. Many people also fail to realize that there are millions upon millions of Egyptians on this big blue planet of ours and that Egyptians are Africans. So being African is not necessarily being black.
The only thing that is clear is that race transformation attempts are really nothing more than body deformations because you are physically changing something through surgery or chemically. But hey, more power to you. If it floats your boat, go sailing.
- Breast Ironing
This is, unfortunately, as bad as it sounds. Someone, usually the mother, will hold a girl aged 8-13 or just as she starts to blossom, and iron her chest with an extremely hot object. They are trying to stop her breasts from growing, believing in their minds that they are protecting the child from rape and/or pregnancy. They also beat on the chest with heated objects like the kitchen tool used to mash potatoes or anything that they can get. They pound and press with the heated object, causing more damage than they realize. The crazy part of it is that their intentions are good. They want the child not to be molested and to have a chance to finish her education.
More than 4 million females have suffered this fate at the hands of loved ones over the years in regions of the Republic of Cameroon. Breast ironing causes tissue damage, which can lead to breast cancer, cysts, infections, the inability to breast-feed their eventual children, depression, and malformation and/or the loss of at least one breast and possibly both.
- Tooth and Ear Sharpening
Tooth sharpening was done in a spiritual light, historically, and also in Bali to change negative emotions, which were thought to reside in the teeth. There are some people in today’s world who still do this weird act of body deformation but certainly not for any spiritual aspirations. Now it is done because some teenage simpleton wants to either look like a vampire, or emulate his or her idol, lead singer for Twisted Sister, Dee Snider. Vampires are all the rage now so I guess I get that. What I do not get, however, is ear sharpening. There simply is no reason to snip ones ears into points unless you want to look like an elf and if you are not a midget, that’s out; or you want to look like Mr. Spock from the popular television show and movies. If you are not already green, (Spock has a green tint because of his green blood) then why bother with that?
- Body Piercing
Body piercing is an invasive procedure with risks of infection and excessive scarring. If it is not done right, it can be very dangerous indeed. Many people do body piercings for religious reasons, but in today’s modern world, it is an expression of individuality and sometimes even young revolt against the norm. Some people like it, most people tolerate it in those that we love. There is a large portion of the population that find it gross and very undesirable. What many people fail to realize is that it is almost as old a tradition as any other form of body modification and deformation and has been around almost as long as humans. It is not surprising to find ear, nose, and even genital piercing in mummified tombs. Even the iceman of Australia had earring. Unfortunately, there are always those who are willing to take it to the extreme, ensuring that it will never be fully accepted.
- Extreme Corset
The first time I saw a picture of a woman wearing an extreme corset, my mind screamed PHOTOSHOP! I just did not believe it would be possible to squeeze your bodily organs into the places they have to go to get the corset drawn that tightly. Yet 19th Century women of style defended the corset vehemently. They wrote newspapers articles to dispute warnings from the doctors of the times about the medical maladies these corseted women were setting themselves up for. These corsets, which lace in the back and contain steel or whalebone supports, were drawn so tight that women could not draw a deep breath. Many women wore them almost 24/7 and permanently deformed their bodies just so they could fit into an incredible 14-inch waist. Constricting the human body into a tight fitting corset would adversely affect breathing, thus restricting the blood flow as well. Without blood born oxygen being carried efficiently, many ailments were able to attack the weakened immune system. Corseted women were always known for their pale, drawn skin and frequent light-headedness. It also constricts the digestive system. The build-up of toxins in the body would result and the liver and other organs could not process or filter the higher levels, again causing illness and even death that would go undiagnosed during the times. These were just two of the numerous dangers of wearing a body-deforming corset only to fit into a ridiculously sized dress. The real tragedy here is that mothers would start their daughters in corsets at around age 7. The things we do in vanity I will never understand.
- Foot Bindings
The tradition of binding the feet of Chinese women started, it is strongly believed, in the 10th century and was only universally outlawed in 1949. Incredibly, ten centuries of women suffered this horrible and progressively painful deformation of their feet.
When you think about a prosperous Chinese man walking into a room and notice the geisha girl, her hair in a bun, white make-up on the delicate features of her face, you realize that she is shuffling behind her master/husband rather than walking. This is a direct result of childhood foot binding.
The feet are tightly bound when wealthy Chinese women were but children and after two years, the foot almost doubles over on itself. The bones slowly break in half, leaving a two-inch deep cleft in the bottom of the foot, almost dead center lengthwise, and width wise. While this lotus shape in women’s feet was a source of pride, it was extremely painful for life.
- Neck Rings
Long neck Karen is not a women, it is an entire tribe of people whose women wear neck rings. For them, it is a symbol of beauty. In reality, it is body deformation. The rings, many of them not rings at all but brass, slinky shaped coils with up to 20 coils for an adult, only create the illusion that the neck is stretched. Again, in reality, the heavy rings are pushing the chest, ribs, and collarbones down in an unnatural fashion causing real medical harm to the women. It is really tragic what people do in the name of beauty. It is more tragic what we force upon our children in the name of ignorance. They start placing the rings on their female children between ages 2 to 5 years old.
Here is where this becomes even more interesting. The long Neck Karen were taken during siege in their native Burma. Forced to live outside a refugee camp in Thailand, separated from their non-elongated countrymen, they have become a tourist attraction where people from around the world pay 250 baht fee at the gate ($8 US) to walk through their makeshift camp and snap pictures. Now the UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency that helps displaced people all over the world has found houses for these people in another, more friendly country. They want to help them to get jobs and build a life for themselves and to be free. While Thailand has released the other 20,000 Burmese refugees, they refuse to release the Long Neck Karen. It seems to everyone that Thai authorities are using these people to draw tourist trade to that part of their country and it is effective. It sounds an awful lot like slavery to me.
This beautiful tribe of people is being used to profit a country that was never their home. Unfortunately, there is nothing anyone can do about it except the UN, who is talking about a tourist boycott. One brave woman named Zember, a quiet member of the tribe has resolutely taken the rings she wore so proudly from age five off her neck in protest. What do you think should be done, if anything, for these unwilling hostages? Please post your comments below.
- Cranial Deformation
The art of cranial deformation actually dates way back before written history and was practiced worldwide with a focus on the Mayan and Egyptian civilizations, yet this is not quite as amazing as the fact that it is still going on today, believe it or not, in isolated areas of Africa and South America. It is one of–if not the–longest running method of human deformation in the history of humankind. It was thought that the elongation of the skull can directly affect your intelligence and your sensitivity to the spirit world, hence, the more elongated your skull, the smarter you are and the closer to the spirit world you must be. Famous figures depicted with elongated heads are King Tut, the boy king, and Queen Nefertiti.
Having the distinction of being a neologism, this word is used to describe people who mutilate other people by manipulating them while they are still children. The Comprachicos word itself stands for “Child Buyer”. This terrible form of prolonged torture has been taken to medical and psychological extremes. The most common form of this sadistic treatment is stunting the growth of the child through bindings. They would also leave muzzles on their faces, tightened while they grow to deform their faces and dislocate their joints.
There was a cult, it is whispered in dark and dangerous places, a strange, nomadic, and dangerous group of people who existed in 17th century France that would buy and trade children to perform terrible deformations upon them in order to sell them as circus freaks or court fools.
While the term [I]Comprachicos[/I] was coined in the 18th century, the form of torture that it stands for is much older. In Ancient China this form of body deformation was performed as an art; a macabre art that would take years to perfect. Comparable to that of growing and preparing bonsai trees except that there were no trees. The children were placed in a special bottomless porcelain vase where they would stand upright during the day and laid down during the night. Eventually the body would have no room to grow, the flesh and bones would compress and bend against the contours of the vase. After several years the vase is broken and a grotesque figure of a pot shaped man is exposed.