There’s no question that piercings and body modification are the rage. It seems like everywhere you look, someone is getting a new piercing, a fresh tattoo, or some new creative modification. Are piercing and body mod a form of art?

Yes?

To start off, we need to figure out what art is. Here’s the dictionary definition: “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form.” Based on that definition, piercing and body mod are art. A piercing is a personal expression. A stretched ear lobe is creative skill. And some of the other body modification is definitely a product of someone’s imagination. If we’re just talking about dictionary definitions, it’s hard to argue with the fact that piercing and body modification are a form of art.

No?

Some would argue that body modification and piercing are definitely not art. Instead, they declare it’s a fad, a cultural fixation or something completely off-the-wall and unrelated to art. More sophisticated opponents to body mod declare that it’s a symptom of body dysmorphic disorder or a mental illness. Such aberrations clearly place body mod and piercing out of the “art” ball field.

When Art Is Over the Top

Just because body mod might be “art” doesn’t mean that it’s right. There are some sticky questions that get mixed in whenever we talk about body piercing and other types of body modification. For one, it’s damaging. Body mod not only causes pain, but it also produces infection and complications. Additionally, it’s a permanent change. Once you change something, it’s pretty much going to stay that way. Also, body mod can be an addicting practice, in which someone goes way too far. The dysmorphia people have a point.

Think of it like this. Graffiti is art, right? So does that mean you can take a couple cans of spray paint and decorate the Statue of Liberty? Uh, probably not. Why not? It’s damaging, permanent, and messes it up. Plus, someone is probably going to arrest you for it. That’s a extreme example, of course, but it goes to show that just because something is art doesn’t mean its right. When art infringes upon someone else’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it’s time to close up the art shop and play some other game.



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