What does body modification mean to you personally?  
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mod enthusiast, involved with the Om Summer Solstice Festival.

IAM Page: Flip

Over the years, body modification and my own mods have been an important and ever changing part of my life. I see them all as permanent, and I imagine that my relation to them will continue to change. What I currently think is that there really is no inherent significance to our modifications, other than what we project onto them. Really, a nipple ring has no inherent significance in itself. But what if I project some sort of meaning on to the piercing? Is there now an inherent meaning to the mod? I don't think so, or else the inherent meaning would be constant.

What follows are the current projections that I have placed on my modifications. Five years ago, this probably would be a different response, as it will be five years from now.

My first mod was a left-lobe piercing that I had done at a hair salon. I think it was an expression of what I felt was freedom: I just turned 19 and I'd moved from my parents' house in the country to the big city. There was the idea that I was free from parental constraints, that I was old enough to be allowed in clubs, and that my body was my own, and I wasn't insecure about having something that still is considered feminine. It hurt and the aftercare procedures involved nothing but rubbing alcohol and turning the stud around a few times before. Looking back in time it's pretty funny now, but at the time I thought it was so cool. Shortly after I had both with two earrings in them each, and I probably figured that would be it.

Well, that wasn't it of course, and since then I've had more piercings, in my face and my nipples and navel, and a couple of brandings. The facial piercings -- my labret and my nostrils- were a part of identifying with rave or dance culture, which I was and continue to be a part of here in Toronto. Anybody that's been to a party in Toronto will understand the connection, as half or more of the people you see at a real party have some sort of facial piercing. As I was looking for a way to be seen as part of this community, I think that perhaps part of the reason I got these piercings was so that I'd fit in. I was happy with them, and they looked good (well, the labret looked good at least) and I don't think I had them done for the wrong reasons, but now, looking back, I'm sure part of the reason I had them done was to identify with a certain social group.

As far as personal meaning goes, the brandings are more significant, I think because they are permanently there, not just in memory, but on my body

When I first heard that a person could be branded, I immediately knew that I wanted, perhaps needed, to have this done. Something ate away at my head and wouldn't go away until I fufilled this desire. It was almost all-consuming.

The design I chose was simple -- a circle on my left shoulder -- and within a month of hearing about it, I'd been branded. At the time I was exploring different faiths and in particular Hinduism, so at the time I connected the physical experience of the actual branding to spiritual ideas about the nature of the body, and I connected the heat and the design to the sun. There are many personal feelings and thoughts that this branding represents for me, most of which I'd rather not go into, because they are some of my most private and important thoughts that are mine and mine only.

Something that my mods as a whole say about me is that I like balance. The only piercings I have are either equal on both sides of my body, like both ears or both nipples, or aligned down the middle of my body like my labret. With only one shoulder branded I felt out of balance for years, and two years later I was happy with a design I'd chosen for the other shoulder and the balance that it created. It was a great relief.

Over the last two years or so, my desire to get new mods has waned considerably, although I feel as strongly attached to my existing mods as I ever have. Some mods have come out, like my labret and nostril piercings, and in a way I miss them and in a way I don't. The memory of them reminds me of a time when I was younger and doing different things, and their absence reminds me of the things I'm doing now.

Anyhow, after all of this talk about myself, what mods really have come to mean as a whole is that I am part of a community of people that are very diverse but have something very special in common. BME has introduced me to people and things I would have never imagined, and I have made some real and close friendships through my modifications.

At the last BBQ in Toronto, I was truly happy to see that so many people had found something in common when they may never have otherwise. I'm not sure what it is that brings modded people together, or why I almost immediately feel a sense of friendship or commonality with other modded people.

Maybe this is where the inherent significance of body modification can be found; that by celebrating and exploring our bodies, we become a part of something that is greater than individual tattoos or piercings. Maybe modification just opens our receptors to a universal thread which exists in all of us and that we all have in common. Whatever it is, mods are and hopefully will continue to be an important part of my life, and how I see myself and others.

former staff member of BME's QOD, member of Try This At Home.

IAM Page: saram

For me, body modification has been a revelation, a rite of passage, a metamorphosis, an adventure, and far more. I have learned a lot about myself, about who I am and who I can become. I have tested my limits, survived, and come back for more. Most of all, I have enjoyed it all immensely.

My biggest interest in body modification is in its ability to transform. Body modification allows me to make decisions about my own body and take control of myself in positive ways. It is very empowering to be able to make significant changes to my body. Personally, I feel that my mods are altering my physical image to match my inner vision of myself. To paraphrase a close friend, each mod I get reveals what I was truly meant to look like.

I also cannot ignore the more superficial (but related) reason that I love body modification - the aesthetic. I think that tattooed skin is beautiful, and scars are amazing. Certain piercings can accentuate appearance, and others are just plain sexy. It's also attractive on a psychological level to find people confident enough to modify themselves, to ignore the cultural emphasis on uniformity and go with their own instincts. I'd like to think that this makes me beautiful, too.

Body modification has been a very important influence on almost every aspect of my life. I have discovered a lot about myself, and about other people. I have gained some incredible friends, and found myself drifting away from others. Most of all, I have begun an unending evolution into the person I want to become.

mod enthusiast.

IAM Page: WhiteTrash

Body modification, to me, represents expression, aesthetics, and self-empowerment.

I get modified because I like the way it looks and I like the way it makes me feel. I know I may offend some people with this response, but body modification to me has no spiritual significance. I do not receive a deep, etheral sense of completeness or a giant void in my life being filled when I become modified. It does make me happy and provide quite the adrenaline rush, but I would not die or become devoid of all hope if I could not be pierced or tattooed for the rest of my days. Angry, yes, but I would continue. I am not my mods, they are an extension of me. They help me look the way I want to look, nothing more. Yes, I said it. My modifications, for the most part, are purely aesthetic.

However, I also get modified to exert some control over an otherwise powerless existence. If you really think about it, we have virtually no control over our own lives. We cannot dictate what happens to us. No one knows what's around the next corner. As such, this can lead to a need for some control and stability in one's life. Enter body modification. The one and only thing no one can ever take away from you is your body. It is yours and yours alone. You are the supreme dictator. You decide what goes in it and what goes on it. In a world of the unknown and uncontrollable, this little bit of power can make all the difference.

Without me, my mods are useless.

former leader and webmaster of the Young Modders Alliance.

IAM Page: freakshow54

This is something that is so simple to explain, but at the same time, is very difficult. It's very clear to me what it means. However, once I try to put it into words, it isn't so easy. It turns into maybe this, or maybe that. I think this is because it is such a personal feeling.

I originally started modifying my body because I thought piercings were cool. After I pierced my ear lobe, I had this overwhelming sense of power. This was a feeling that I have become very familiar with, but it still affects me just as much every time.

Maybe I enjoy it so much because I have been in so many situations where I felt (or was) powerless. Or maybe I just want something that I ALWAYS have the final say in. Whatever the case, it makes me feel complete. I never feel like something is missing after I have received a mod that I had been wanting. For a short period of time, everything falls into place. It is this sense of security that I have come to cherish.

Quite simply, my modifications help me to define myself, and provide the security of knowing who I am (and being proud of it). I don't think I would feel as confident of myself if it weren't for my mods.

mod enthusiast.

IAM Page: Dragon Slave

Body modification to me is an expression of who I am as a person-- I make mistakes therefore I grow. I add, and in rare instances I also take away, but in the end I am still always me. No one can change my skin, add or take away, without my consent.

Better still, each tattoo, each scar, and even each piercing no matter how small tells a story. Loved ones ask what each one means, and if they care to listen, I care to tell. In turn, they have a little part of me in their mind and soul.

Not too many people in my family understand that-- even less approve. They consider it body mutilation and the like-- and yet they've done some of the same things as I have, at the same times. I can understand them wanting to help me climb to the platform where I should be now, and in the future, but then again who would want to stay on a platform when you can fly?

webmaster of Todd Bertrang's website, computer assistant at East Street Body Piercing in Sweden, interviewed on Modified Mind.

IAM Page: Loco

I modify my body because it feels natural to me. It has an aesthetic appeal obviously but it is also spiritual in the sense that it makes me feel more comfortable with my body and myself as a whole. It's an unexplainable urge more or less. Many of my mods have just come to me, I've dreamt up tattoos, I've seen pictures of piercings and instantly known that they were right for me and so on. It's like they're meant to be there and somebody just forgot to slap them in place before I was born. They're also reminders as well as stepping-stones towards future goals and adventures and they fill me with strength and constantly let me know who I am. Plain and simple, it's a personal thing.

mod enthusiast, assisted in Loco interview for Modified Mind.

IAM Page: p7tms

This is a tough question to answer.

Body modification has allowed me to have a physical representation of my "inner self".

I have learned that I feel much more comfortable being able to show my "inner self" through my mods, than to have to put on a "mask" to fit in with "normal" society.