I recently watched a television show chronicling the history of tattoos, body art, and extreme body modification. I was mesmerized, and a bit taken for all that people are willing to do to change the appearance of their body. I marveled at the price people are willing to pay, both in dollars and discomfort, for an enhanced aesthetic.
Although I have a small tattoo on my right shoulder, watching this show I felt an inkless world away from the subculture of extreme body modification. Then I remembered, I too am a participant in another form of body modification; bodysculpting. I have been a bodybuilder (a more extreme version of bodysculpting), though I no longer care for that term, that ideal, and all the negative connotations that go with bodybuilder. I’m simply an amateur artist of malleable tissue, pursuing a (perceived) more reasonable form.
Professionally I do write, speak, and live the ideal of functional fitness, but I also embrace the (intended) physical changes which accompany that pursuit. Within the scope of my fitness week, I may work toward greater balance, enhanced flexibility, increased endurance, and improved internal fitness, but I’m also attempting to carve out a statue – on myself.
You, The Flesh Artist
I’ll let you in on a little secret: If you go to the gym regularly and engage in strength training, you’re a bodysculptor too. I’ll bet you don’t often think of yourself as someone engaged in body modification, but you are…
…oh yes you are you little flesh-artist you. Don’t deny it – be proud of your desire to live in the world of body modification. Pride is due, for the change you are making doesn’t come easy – and it does not come without (at least some) pain.
To take a muscle, change the shape, the size, and to improve the clarity of it – that is no small task. That kind of change is both a tall order and a long journey, though the journey can be beautiful. Like tattoos and piercings, that journey can also hurt – depending on your intentions when you workout. The progress of muscle modification tends to manifest better when the workouts bite a little more.
Pain In Trade
In tattooing, it is said that you earn the tattoo by virtue of the pain. In bodysculpting you also earn the change by way of pain – to some degree, but also by consistency in that pain. The pain does not end with burning or sore muscles either. For many, the struggle to get off the sofa and just move, exceeds the pain of the workout itself.
Dare To Stand Out From Others – By Doing What They Do…?
A good number of people who tattoo and pierce their bodies are drawn to body modification because of the history behind it – it’s a romance thing. These practices have been around for thousands of years, and are most often associated with war, battle, or an individual’s status within a culture. So too has been the practice of strength training for muscle modification. In tattooing and weightlifting, what arose from war, now manifests in fashion.
There is evidence that weight training began as early as 4,000 years ago in China. Bigger stronger soldiers would fare much better in battle, and battle back then was often done shoulder to shoulder. That these early strength trainers also looked the part, lent itself to intimidation on the battlefield. That they became the hottest men in the village was just an unintended benefit, but was likely good motivation to keep on lifting those stones.
Today, a majority of body modification has less to do with battle and tribal status, and more to do with identity within our diluted cultures. The new Western ideal is often one of pursuing a unique identity among the masses — who are also seeking a unique identity. We tattoo, pierce, put Krazy Kolor in our hair, even change the shape of our musculature, to stand out and be recognized among the sea of equals who surround us — and often end up looking like just another face in the crowd of people who are doing the exact same thing so they can stand out..
A Life-Long Commitment To Commitment
Regardless of intent, the primary difference modern between bodysculpting, and modern tattoos and piercings as a form of body modification is this; to keep the muscles looking good – looking changed, one needs to remain committed to exercise ongoing. Muscle modification is not permanent like ink, stainless steel pins, or silicone implants. Muscle modification requires a commitment of maintenance which most other forms of body modification do not. Keeping the shape and the clarity of that improved musculature is an ideal and a victory only so long as the workouts keep coming.
I admire those willing to undergo all the pain of a full bodysuit tattoo. I may not understand it, but I can still have respect for that which I do not understand. The dedication of a successful bodysculptor should bare as much respect from the outside world, as anyone boasting the most extreme full bodysuit tattoo — it has been earned. Be well. rc