Body Decoration as a Form of Individual Expression



Body Decoration as a Form of Individual Expression

Body decoration, especially piercings and tattoos have experienced a major surge in popularity, becoming prevalent across all social classes and age. Many individuals choose to get tattoos or pierce themselves in order to either add a unique aspect to their appearance or make a statement. As Poland and Holmes (2009, N. p) assert, the body is a source of experimentation that is utilized to evince a transgressive identity. In this regard, tattoos and body piercings are part of cultural representation or conformity. Notwithstanding, tattoos and piercings have become an expression of individuality rather than about belonging to a certain culture or community. While other forms of body decoration such as headwear, haircuts/color and clothing can be changed, tattoos and body piercings are a bit more permanent and are for the most part contemplated carefully before being utilized as a form of self-expression. As such, body decoration, particularly tattoos and body piercings have become a prominent part of contemporary forms of individual expression.

In order to discern why people decide to decorate their bodies, it is essential to explore the motivations behind such motivation. According to Wohlrab et al. (2007), body piercings and tattoos represent individuality, personal expression and creativity. When it comes to identity and individuality, tattoos and body piercings do not only portray an affiliation or concept but are also symbolic in how they help define people’s identity. This is a continuous process whereby the individuals actively contribute to the construction of their personal identities. For instance, visible tattoos of playing cards and dots were associated with inmates to represent time spent by ex-convicts in prison and that existence is a gamble. Bikers often identified themselves and continued to identify themselves with body piercings and tattoos of death related images such as anti-social slogans and skulls. Having tattoos may at times be identified with impulsiveness, aggression and desire to break the rules, but they should be seen as a desire to evince individuality or belief in something rather than an affiliation to of psychopathology. Thus, apart from body piercings and tattoos being used to express identity and individuality, aesthetic appeal is also another motivation for individuals to obtain tattoos and body piercings for self-expression.Body Decoration as a Form of Individual Expression

The ornamentation of tattoos and body piercings do not dissuade people despite the apparent health risks involved with these body decorations. This demonstrates that the desire to look good and by extension feel good or amazing supersedes the risk of health complications. Research by Claes et al. (2005) shows that the aesthetic values of tattoos is a more important reason for individuals to get body piercings and tattoos compared to social reasons such as peer pressure. The same study also demonstrated that tattoos and body piercings make males experience lower anxiety and women to gain a sense of greater social physique. Nonetheless, in as much as tattoos and body piercings are an aesthetic appeal to people when it comes to expressing their individualities, they also contain therapeutic value as body decorations.

It is normal to hear people who have gotten body piercings and tattoos so as to surmount traumatic experiences in their lives, as well as, overcome the feeling of alienation of their bodies. Whether this is in the form of the date when an individual overcame his or her drug addiction, escaped from an abusive relationship or accomplished an impossible feat, the sharing of one’s narrative can be therapeutic since it serves as an incessant reminder of what they have overcome in life. Thus, tattoos and body piercings can be simultaneously utilized for decorative and therapeutic purposes. Based on this understanding, these body decorations can fulfill a lacking physicality that improves the psychological well-being of a person.Body Decoration as a Form of Individual Expression

Overall, both youth and adults in the modern world chose to decorate their bodies with tattoos and body piercings so as to express their individualities and identities. Those who believe in a certain concept/theory or belong to a particular group can use tattoos and body piercings to express these identities. Moreover, tattoos and body piercings can merely be used for their aesthetic appeal so as to enhance the appearance or attraction of a person. Finally, tattoos and body piercings also portray a deeper meaning through their therapeutic value, thus, forming a vital part of modern forms of individual expression.










Works Cited

Claes, Laurence et al. “Self-Care Versus Self-Harm: Piercing, Tattooing, And Self-Injuring In Eating Disorders”. European Eating Disorders Review, vol 13, no. 1, 2005, pp. 11-18. Wiley-Blackwell, doi:10.1002/erv.612.

Poland, B, and D Holmes. “Celebrating Risk: The Politics Of Self-Branding, Transgression And Resistance In Public Health”. Aporia, vol 1, no. 4, 2009, pp. 27-36., Accessed 19 Mar 2018.

Wohlrab, Silke et al. “Modifying The Body: Motivations For Getting Tattooed And Pierced”. Body Image, vol 4, no. 1, 2007, pp. 87-95. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2006.12.001.