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Body Art as a Visual Language

            Symbols are anything we see that represents something else or an idea. Symbols range from a logo for a sports team or company, from the peace sign to a swastika, from tattoos or piercings to makeup and jewelry. They mean different things to each one of us; also those meanings are far from universal. The changing of ones body dates back to the earliest of civilizations and prior. There have been modifications done worldwide and for many different reasons. Some people have modifications done to represent joy, while others will do the same for sorrow. For others it's a right of passage. Certain modifications may also be as a sign of status. While still some just to it to rebel. I am a prime example of the latter. I have an array of both tattoos and piercings, ranging from my ears, tongue, and labret being pierced to tattoos covering 1/3 of my back and a Buddhist symbol on my arm. The foremost reason I have had these modifications done was to rebel, I was told my whole life that I was not allowed to do any of them "while you are under my roof" as my mom would put it. After my graduation from Boot Camp, one of my first ventures into San Diego was a stop at one of their many tattoo shops. That's where it all starts, with one. Now mine were for my reasons, and everyone who gets them has their own. Body painting, makeup, and hairstyles are some of the non-permanent ways to alter one's body. There is so much that can be done with each of the three categories, but mostly done for beauty. Some one once said, " beauty is in the eye of the beholder", and this is ever more present with different cultures representation of what is beautiful. Between the 10th and 19th century, Japanese women would blacken their teeth, as black teeth were considered sexually appealing. Some cultures see wrinkles and gray hair as a sign of dignity, while others try to conceal them in any way possible. Body paint and makeup were not always used for beautification.

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