Labeling and stigmas are likely to occur when an individual showcase something different than the norm (Peace, 2001). Individuals sometimes get labeled negatively when they show forms of art such as tattooing, and piercing (Peace, 2001). Misconceptions are made, and body shaming even tends to occur (Peace, 2001). In most cultures, when individuals deviate from the norm, they are told to remove the body art they currently have because it makes the culture feel disrespected (Peace, 2001). There are many individuals who share their stories as to how people tend to treat them differently once they get tattoos or any form of body art.
The rise of bodily art lead anthropologist to study other cultures, and take part in fieldwork (Schildkrout, 2004). This allows them to experience firsthand, and talk to individuals from different cultures all around the world (Schildkrout, 2004). Anthropologist examined literary evidence that provided details as to how cultures end up doing body art (Schildkrout, 2004). Ethnographies provided information and detailed evidence on the different forms of art each person had, and what the actual body art symbolized (Schildkrout, 2004).
Rosa Maria Perez was an anthropologist who wanted to study how important the body is to one’s culture (Perez, 2009). She set out to experience, and do research on that particular subject matter, in a place known as, India (Perez, 2009). Her main research questions involved, why the body was such an immense importance to the culture (Perez, 2009). The significance behind body art, and what historical aspects played a role in the importance of body art (Perez, 2009). Furthermore, this article will provide information on the representation of the body, and how it creates cultural boundaries between the individual and the rest of the world.
As well, its role in societies, and its limitations (Perez, 2009). Habitus, is the system embodied by a culture that gives individuals a perception of the world outside of their own (Perez, 2009). The individuals you socialize with are the ones who influence your behavior the most (Perez, 2009). This limits an individual due to being given norms to abide to (Perez, 2009). It many cultures and societies, individuals are not allowed to travel or take part in any other culture, (Perez, 2009).
This deters the individual in experiencing other cultures that could provide them with many positive influences, and even newer opportunities that their culture alone cannot provide (Perez, 2009). Modern forms of art can be visualized in the styling of clothing individuals use (Perez, 2009). More importantly, in the work environment (Perez, 2009). Individuals who work in the same place, are usually given work uniforms, which is clothing that looks identical to one another (Perez, 2009). The purpose of work uniforms is to distinguish the hierarchy within the workplace (Perez, 2009).
For instance, individuals who have a lower paying job position tend to wear the same clothing as others that pertain to the same job (Perez, 2009). While individuals who work in higher job positions, such as managers, are dressed in a different form of clothing (Perez, 2009). This allows individuals on the outside of the work environment to distinguish each person from one another (Perez, 2009). British colonials in India showcased the importance of the body, due to it providing an identity for India’s social structure (Perez, 2009). In India, the body gave information of social regulation and practices (Perez, 2009).
It also showed how disciplinary actions were taken in their culture, how is served as control over the population (Perez, 2009). When anthropologist do their fieldwork in a different culture, they must take into consideration the culture’s way of life to begin with (Perez, 2009). They must become one with the culture. Therefore, they must dress, eat, and bathe, as the culture they are researching on (Perez, 2009). It is also important to not pass judgement, and to keep emotions in check (Perez, 2009).
Rosa’s fieldwork involved her staying at a random family’s ome, right off the back, she was told to change her appearance, and body language (Perez, 2009). She immediately tried to blend in with the family by taking part in their rituals, and the different methods in which they socialized (Perez, 2009). She was determined to live like a Bengali woman would (Perez, 2009). Since that part of India she was doing research in, was primarily following the culture and historical aspects of the British Empire. She had to conduct research on how the society lived. In India, women were not considered to have an id (Perez, 2009).
The only time they had one was when they became married to a male, and then they were still just identified as the male’s spouse (Perez, 2009). Women were not allowed to travel alone, and the only roles they were allowed to play were those of a mother, daughter, and wife (Perez, 2009). When a woman married a man, they were told to get henna designs all over their hands and feet in order to showcase that they were no longer single (Perez, 2009). It also provided the female a way to enhance their physical beauty that allowed them to be distinguished from the rest of the females who were not married (Perez, 2009).
Thus, body art served as matrimonial identification in India (Perez, 2009). Throughout the rest of her fieldwork she noticed how in some parts of India the clothing an individual wore determined how the individual would be treated (Perez, 2009). If a person wore something uncommonly used in that culture people would not take them into consideration, or even bother to acknowledge their presence, this was common amongst catholic cultures (Perez, 2009). She only felt as an outcast when she would spend time with her catholic acquaintances.
Most of them expected her to mimic everything they did, and dress according to their culture (Perez, 2009). On the other hand, another place Rosa visited in India was primarily on Hinduism culture (Perez, 2009). She felt as though she would have been judged instantly based on her appearance which consisted of the culture she took part in before (Perez, 2009). Surprisingly, she was not. The people were much more accepting of her differences, and she felt that she did not have to change her appearance in order to please them (Perez, 2009).
Furthermore, through Rosa’s experience in researching several villages in India she concluded that some cultures try to restrain the individual from showcasing individuality, they are forced to conform to their cultural expectations (Perez, 2009). When it comes to body art they are only allowed to have it when they are symbolizing their marital status (Perez, 2009). In the Pazyryk culture there is a famous story about the Siberian tattooed princess (Moscow, 2012). Her body was dug out from her tomb (Moscow, 2012). There was a lot of speculation due to bringing her body out of the place she was laid to rest (Moscow, 2012).
People from their culture believed that if the princess was not placed back in her burial, there would be a lot of chaos amongst the land they indeed did bring her out of her tomb, the land experienced more earthquakes, and other forms of natural disasters that they had not experienced before (Moscow, 2012). Pazyryk culture is known for expressing an individual’s way of thinking (Moscow, 2012). Most tattoos consisted of images of animals (Moscow, 2012). Animals served as a sign of language of the Pazyryk culture, and would describe an individual’s personality (Moscow, 2012).
Moreover, the amount of tattoos an individual had showcased how many years they lived (Moscow, 2012). After they died, it was said that the purpose of the tattoos served as a way for families to reunite in the afterlife (Moscow, 2012). Furthermore, the Siberian princess only had marks of identity in both of her arms, which symbolized her age and her status amongst the culture (Moscow, 2012). Tattoos are popular for showcasing artistic self-expression throughout the body (Phillips, 2001). On the other hand, getting tattoos can also have a negative impact on an individual’s life (Phillips, 2001).
Gallo is a man who is part of the Chicano culture who lived most of his life in Santa Monica, California (Phillips, 2001). Most of the tattoos he had were either done by his fellow inmates in prison or himself. (Phillips, 2001). One of that tattoos that Gallo had were three dots underneath his left eye, which stood for a crazy life (Phillips, 2001). Most of his tattoos he had consisted of the symbolism of his gang membership (Phillips, 2001). Gallo expressed that after getting tattoos all over his body, he would experience a lot of racism, and people always viewed him a negative light (Phillips, 2001).
Moreover, he struggled to find a job, and people would not associate themselves with him (Phillips, 2001). Although Gallo faced a lot of repercussions, he was never ashamed of his tattoos, and never regretted getting them (Phillips, 2001). To him his tattoos told a different chapter of his life, which is what gave them an immense amount of meaning (Phillips, 2001). The representation of each tattoo is what ultimately shaped Gallo’s life (Phillips, 2001). Whether it be for better or for worse (Phillips, 2001).
The politics that came along with having tattoos is what gave Gallo an edge with gangs (Phillips, 2001). Firstly, he explained how pertaining to a gang gave him access to places most people did not have access to (Phillips, 2001). His tattoos served as a form of identification of the gang her pertained to (Phillips, 2001). Therefore, his marks of identity always helped him get through a different aspect of his life (Phillips, 2001). Furthermore, body art can be represented in many ways that can involve illustrations on the body, such as tattoos, piercing of the skin, scarification, and even henna (Perez, 2009).
Body Art is a form of self-expression, and can also be a form of symbolism and identity (Perez, 2009). Body Art can illustrate many things, for example, Siberian tattooed princess, its cultural use of tattoos differed from other cultures (Moscow, 2012). Societies today can influence how a person is treated, and looked upon. In the case of Gallo, we could see that people would become judgmental towards him, and create stereotypes (Phillips, 2001). Overall, body art is used amongst all cultures, and will continue to be a form of symbolism.