Extreme Body Modifications around the World

People throughout history have been using the body as a tool for expressing themselves. Some even endure the pain just to achieve a certain look that they want to portray. There are those that undergo extreme body modifications as rites of passage, traditions handed down from generation,  religious rituals or a cultural perception of beauty.  Medical experts would cringe at the thought of the physical strains that the body endures and the long term repercussions it can cause the body. But in spite of this, it looks like these extreme body modifications will not let up anytime soon.


The exact origin of scarification is not known. The fact that several cultures from the western Pacific, South of Sudan and other regions do practice scarification makes it difficult to determine the birth of such rituals. Basically, the ritual requires a person’s skin to be cut deep enough in order for scarring to develop while healing. Most scarring rituals carve them into patterns and it is usually done to the face. These are known to symbolize courage, strength and as a symbol of adulthood.

Neck Elongation

In remote parts of Thailand, some of the women are attracting a lot of tourists due to their unusual practice of neck elongation. Several gold rings envelop their necks making them look like ostrich heads or even a giraffe. In their culture, the more rings you are able to place around your neck, the more attractive you seem. In spite of many doctors advising them to forego such tradition, they still pass this down to their children, having as young as five year olds wearing their first ring.

Foot Binding

“Lotus feet” is an ancient Japanese practice of foot binding. The soles of the feet are bent and bound with yards and yards of bandages until such time that the bones of the feet are restructured. This painful practice was brought on by an idea that women are considered beautiful when they have small and delicate feet. Thankfully, this practice has practically dying out with only a handful of aged women having them.

Lip Plate

In the tribes of Africa, a popular body modification involves piercing a hole of the upper or lower lip and placing a clay disc into it. Small discs are eventually replaced by larger discs as the skin stretches. Some even go further and take out the teeth across from it. It is often regarded as a sign of entering adulthood and beauty.

Forced Weight Gain

From a handful of societies in Fiji, Jamaica and Nauru, fat is considered to be beautiful. The heavier you are the more enticing you are to suitors. Sign me up, right? Well, the truth is that most women of marriageable age (that is 14-16 years old to such cultures) are often brought to fat camps where they are fed huge amounts of food before being presented to their arranged fiancée or suitors. This type of force feeding not only is dangerous to your physical health but also messes with your emotional and psychological health.

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