THE OFFICIAL GUIDE TO BODY MODIFICATIONS AT HARVARD

BY: NATALIE SO & ABBY SUN

GOAL: To create a visual and ideological understanding of body modifications across the Harvard undergraduate student population through the creation of maps and charts. To bring awareness to the phenomenological, psychological, and idiosyncratic aspects that drive the desire for body modifications.

METHODOLOGY: A survey that gathered information about actual and desired body modifications, as well as demographic information (age, gender, ethnicity, hometown). Participants also had the option of filling out an additional set of in-depth interview questions.

SAMPLE SIZE: 151 individuals

# without body modifications: 27 
Total body modifications: 377 (3.04 body mods/person with a body mod, 2.50/total sample)
Total desired modifications: 100

EXHIBIT 1

11 Categories of Body Modifications x 37 Body Locations

This chart maps the intersections of actual/desired body modifications and body locations. Body modifications categorized as “additions” or “subtractions” show actual body modifications. Desired modifications are represented with the “target” symbol. Each category of body modification has received a specific color that remains consistent across our entire presentation.

Clarification of Modification Categories & Specific Body Modifications:

Shaping: orthodontal braces, hair cuts, chest-binding
Removals: hair removal, shaving
Scarification: branding, cutting
Self-Mutilation: cutting, nail-biting
General: Individual referred to a modification that is applicable to the entire body
Unknown (Modification): Individual did not specify type of body modification
Unknown (Body Part): Individual did not specify physiological location of body modification

Note: Eating disorders as a form of body modification were categorized as desired, unknown modifications to unknown body parts. We recognize that eating disorders are complex psychological issue and differ among individuals.

EXHIBIT 2

This heat map quantifies the number of body modifications in specific body locations. Each dot representations an individual instance of body modification on a particular body part, with the type of body modification shown by the color of the dot. Dots are divided into two categories, with filled-in dots representing additions and and dots with no fill representing subtractions. Outlines represent “general” modifications (e.g. outline of the ear shows non-specified ear modifications), with thickness of the outline delineating the number of individuals who participated in that particular modification.

# of Modifications by Type & Location:

  1. Piercing, ear (general): 104
  2. Piercing, ear lobe: 80
  3. Piercing, ear conch: 1
  4. Piercing, ear cartilage: 16
  5. Piercing, ear helix: 5
  6. Piercing, ear rook: 1
  7. Piercing, ear tragus: 3
  8. Piercing, eyebrow: 4
  9. Piercing, nose: 16
  10. Piercing, septum: 1
  11. Piercing, lip: 3
  12. Piercing, tongue: 2
  13. Piercing, nipple: 2
  14. Piercing, navel: 7
  15. Piercing, back (corset): 1
  16. Piercing, clitoral: 1
  17. Piercing, penis: 1
  18. Piercing, unknown: 7
  19. Stretching, ear lobe: 7
  20. Tattoo, arms: 1
  21. Tattoo, wrist: 2
  22. Tattoo, chest: 3
  23. Tattoo, ribcage/side: 3
  24. Tattoo, back: 3
  25. Tattoo, shoulder: 2
  26. Tattoo, hips: 3
  27. Tattoo, ankle: 3
  28. Tattoo, foot: 1
  29. Tattoo, unknown: 6
  30. Exercise, arms: 1
  31. Exercise, chest, 1
  32. Exercise, general: 11
  33. Diet, stomach: 1
  34. Diet, general: 35
  35. Surgery, face: 1
  36. Surgery, nose: 1
  37. Surgery, penis: 2
  38. Shaping, teeth: 3
  39. Shaping, hair: 5
  40. Shaping, chest: 1
  41. Coloring, hair: 4
  42. Coloring, general: 3
  43. Removal, eyebrow: 3
  44. Removal, upper lip: 1
  45. Removal, armpit: 2
  46. Removal, pubic area: 2
  47. Removal, legs: 2
  48. Removal, general: 3
  49. Scarification, arms: 1
  50. Scarification: shoulders: 1
  51. Scarification, unknown: 1
  52. Self-mutilation, fingernails: 1
  53. Self-mutilation, unknown: 1
  54. Unknown, teeth: 1
  55. Unknown, nipple: 1

EXHIBIT 3

This maps illustrates the ideology and language of desire that shapes the process by which one acquires or declines a body modification. Each thought involved in this map has been culled directly from the surveys and interviews we received. We hope to capture both the psychological and behavioral factors of body modifications as well as the external/societal/relational factors that shape individual stories of body modifications.

EXHIBIT 4

This map is an intersection of body geographies and physical geographies, pinpointing the hometown locations of the individuals who participated in our survey.

EXHIBIT 5

Our Body Modification Project Tumblr contains transcripts of the interviews we solicited for this project. The interviews are significant as a part of the narrative of our project and expose the idiosyncratic and personal stories that are integral to body modifications.

EXHIBIT 6

This exhibit requires your participation. Three types temporary tattoos have been provided for you to visualize your own desired body modifications (which may or may not be pre-determined by Exhibit 4). Please take an “addition,” “subtraction,” or “general” tattoo and place on desired body location. To further exhibit your desire, please submit a photograph of the location of your desired body modification to http://bodmodproj.tumblr.com/submit or bodymodproj@gmail.com.

© 2011 Abby Sun and Natalie So. Accent theme by Handsome Code.

1. To create a visual and ideological understanding of body modifications across the Harvard undergraduate student population through the creation of maps and charts. 2. To bring awareness to the phenomenological, psychological, and idiosyncratic aspects that drive the desire for body modifications.


The Official Guide to Body Modifications at Harvard

About

Introduction

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2

Exhibit 3

Exhibit 4

Exhibit 5

Exhibit 6

Submit