Due to my having the flu this week, I was unable to attend this week’s discussions. Thus, my post focuses solely on the readings. Both in the readings, Surgery Junkies and The Piercing Bible, along with the film “Flesh and Blood”, I chose to focus on the reasons why people choose to modify their bodies, as this aspect of body modification was discussed in all three works. The reading in Surgery Junkies began with a plastic surgeon’s explanation of why he discontinued a relationship with a patient. The surgeon claimed the patient was no longer a “good patient” as he believed no matter how many surgeries she had done, she would always find reason to get another (Pitts 1). In one of my previous posts, I wrote about how as a human being we have the right to alter our bodies how we see fit. I still agree with that, but Surgery Junkies brought to light the reality of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). Patients, like the ones discussed in the text, will always be unhappy with the way their body looks, no matter how much work they have done. However, not all people with extreme body modification have BDD. Stalking Cat for example, has had numerous surgeries to alter his appearance in order to feel more himself. I find that this is where things get blurry, as Stalking Cat sees that there is something wrong with his body that he feels the need to alter, and so did Lydia Manderson.
In The Piercing Bible there is an entire chapter dedicated to what motivates people to alter their bodies. These reasons range from ethnic and spiritual practices, to erotic fantasies, but many people choose to modify themselves because they believe it’ll make them feel better about themselves. My sister got her nose pierced because she thinks it looks good, my aunt got her breasts enlarged because she thought they were more proportional to her body, Lizard Man tattooed the entirety of his upper body because it’s who he is. People modify their bodies to make themselves happier, and personally, I believe that is okay. In the instance of BDD it is only different because the patient will never be happy with the final outcome. But, who is to say that last tattoo was one too many? Is there a certain number of procedures that can be done until, BAM!, you’ve gone too far?
I believe there are other motivations, besides a person simply wanting to feel better about their body, which we should be concerned about. In “Flesh and Blood”, Ashley Bronson admitted to suspending for the wrong reasons. She was more concerned with what her boyfriend wanted than what she wanted. Instances like this relate back to historical forms of body modification, like foot binding, or labret piercing. In these practices the recipients, most commonly women, felt as if they had no choice. Like the women of ancient China, Bronson felt as if her boyfriend would leave her if she didn’t perform the way he wanted. In body modification, I believe that all motivations are acceptable, even those that just want to for the hell of it, unless they feel coerced or in anyway forced into it. In the case of Lydia, the woman with BDD, her reasons for plastic surgery may have been psychological, but in the end her ultimate motivation was to make herself happy.