Body Art and Modification at TMSE

By Kelsey Kennedy

This week at the school, I did my second presentation of the semester, this time on body art and modification in Southeast Asia. I was a lot less nervous the second time around!

The Discussion

This was a really fun lecture to do; Southeast Asia has a really diverse group of cultures that have some really cool body mods. A few of my classmates and I drew some tattoo designs on our arms before class to get all the kids ready for the day.
This was a really fun lecture to do; Southeast Asia has a really diverse group of cultures that have some really cool body mods. A few of my classmates and I drew some tattoo designs on our arms before class to get all the kids ready for the day.

I started out with examples from our culture that the students might be more familiar. For example, did you know brushing your hair and shaving are examples of body modification? I then broke it down into two categories of body art and body modifications. Body art is defined as “art that uses the human body as a medium,” and body modification is “any method of permanently adorning the body.” The kids did a really good job identifying examples from American culture that fit into these categories.

One of the slides from my Body Art presentation
One of the slides from my Body Art presentation

Since some of these cultural practices are extremely different than ours, I introduced a new vocabulary word: ethnocentrism, which is what happens when we judge a culture by our own standards. I made sure to emphasize that we couldn’t say words like “weird” or “ugly.” I was very proud because everyone handled it really well and no one said anything “ethnocentric.”

The Activity

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The activity was really fun. With the supervision of the leaders, the kids put on temporary tattoos. We drew tattoos on their arms with washable body paint that represented the different clans. The kids had so much fun with this, and I think all the UA students did, too!

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1The Lego Baticorns showing off all their body art
The Lego Baticorns showing off all their body art

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