In your opinion, is someone who has breast implants as much a member of the body modification community as someone with piercings or tattoos?  
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modification enthusiast and freelance writer.

IAM Page: saram

Though it may be a controversial opinion, I believe that a person with breast implants can be a member of the body modification community.

Body modification makes changes to the body through piercings, tattoos, scarification, implants, and other procedures. The reasons behind these alterations are various and personal. Through voluntary modifications, people have immense control over the appearance and function of their own bodies. Body modification may bring new beauty or function to a part of the body.

Plastic surgery uses surgical techniques to change the appearance and function of patients' bodies. The original purpose of plastic surgery was generally reconstructive, to repair injured or deformed body parts. But now, most operations are for cosmetic purposes -- for personal enhancement and improvement. The intentions and results of plastic surgery are similar to those of body modification, altering the body to meet personal standards of form and function. I can enhance my nose with a septum piercing or rhinoplasty; I can enhance my breasts with nipple piercings or breast implants.

The usual cited difference between body modification and plastic surgery is with regard to societal norms. Most surgical patients aspire to manipulate their bodies toward societal standards of physical perfection. Flat stomachs, bump-free noses, and perky breasts are considered desirable in many cultures. Even if it is the express desire of the patient, doctors are disinclined to perform surgeries with results that deviate from societal standards of beauty. Most patients aim for their healed results to be natural and undetectable -- for the viewer to wonder, "Did she or didn't she?"

By comparison, many body modification procedures do not aim toward societal standards of physical perfection. Though an increasing number of people bear piercings and tattoos, they are still considered deviant and rebellious by many. Whether acquired to "fit in" or "look unique," many modifications are a visible mark of change.

Being a member of the body modification community is more of a state of mind than a state of being. Membership is both self-declared and peer accepted. Many individuals with "body modifications" do not consider themselves part of the body modification community. Millions of American adults bear pierced ears or tattoos, but would never claim membership in the community. And while many plastic surgery patients do not broadcast the changes to their bodies... some proudly announce and display these changes to their physiques, these body modifications.

As the body modification community is created through voluntary changes and self-identification, not immutable characteristics, it is up to the individual to claim membership. I think most people with breast implants do not see themselves as part of the body modification community. But if they do, I welcome them with open arms.


Piercer/body mod practitioner/tattoo artist at The Edge Tattoo in Rhode Island.

IAM Page: goddam

I think that anyone with any amount of elective permanent change to their body can be considered part of the masses with modified bodies, whether this makes them part of the body modification community or not is entirely up to the wearer just as someone with extensive tattooing/piercing/implants/brands or what have you has to choose to belong or not to the community so would/should someone who has chosen to undergo plastic surgery. Whether a person considers themselves or someone else part of the community is up to them, it is an opinion, just as someone may not consider a person (themselves included) with standard ear lobe piercings to be part of the modified community it is entirely the prerogative of the person and their "standards" to form their opinion.

I personally consider these two to be equal because they are two parallel paths in my eyes, someone looking to undergo extensive traditional body modification (tattoos/piercings/branding/implants/amputation and the like) is undergoing a change by choice to look a certain way by changing the body they have into the body they want. This is a similar goal with plastic surgery; in many cases people opt to change the body they have into something they want. Both have similar risk factors as far as health is concerned, both can be very hard if not impossible to reverse and there is generally an aspect of permanency involved if only to some degree, both have varying amounts of physical discomfort involved and both certainly have at the very least some social stigma attached granted the general idea (in most cases) of plastic surgery is for no one to ever be able to tell there was a transformation. The wearers of tattoos and piercings may also choose to get tattooed, pierced or otherwise modified in places not visible to the public and be able to conceal them just as much as someone with plastic surgery can conceal any scarring left from their procedure in that, to the general public, they will not appear to have modified their bodies.

In any case I believe that as far as the body modification community is concerned "membership" so to speak is a choice for the individual wearer regardless of "qualifications" and if you feel that you are a member you are.