5 Extreme Body Modifications From Around The World

Hey Thoughty2 here Looking your best sometimes takes a bit of effort, whether it’s a few hours shopping for jeans that don’t make your legs look like two toothpicks sticking out a watermelon, or getting every single hair in its right place

I know, your hair can be cruel sometimes But putting blood, sweat and tears into our appearance, sometimes very literally, is not a new thing; mankind has been doing it for thousands and thousands of years Apes were barely out of the trees before they started wondering if they’d look better with banana skins over their nipples and a few crocodile teeth through their ear lobes So today we look at some of the most extreme modifications that people have made to their own bodies In Skee Lo’s famous love poem from 1995 he wrote “I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller, I wish I had a girl who looked good, I would call her”

And while the last two are possible, through practice and Tinder, your height is something you’re stuck with as it’s down to your skeleton Stuff like boobs, noses and eyelids are changeable, your skeleton is set though, isn’t it? Well not as much as you’d think and if you get to work on it early enough, you can put in some serious interior design changes Binding involves wrapping bandages or chords very tightly around body parts for many months and slowly changing the shape and alignment of the bones It’s normally done on infants as they are much more malleable The most extreme form is cranial deformation or head binding, which has occurred all over the world and is still does occasionally in places like Polynesia and Congo

At birth, the skull is made up of 44 separate bone elements, which are connected with tissues called fontanelles, that allow the rapid brain expansion that occurs at a young age Over time, many of these 44 parts fuse together but, surprisingly, the skull never actually stops growing Your cheekbones continuously draw back and your forehead keeps pushing forward That’s right, you’re getting a flat face But before the fusing occurs, you can bind up the skull and elongate it over a period of months

In many cultures, such as the people of Tomman Island, the practice is often done, since a long head is associated with wisdom For the Mayans it was thought to be aesthetically pleasing It’s also thought that some cultures were trying to emulate other tribes who naturally had this longer head since a mummified female body found in Peru contained a fetus with an elongated skull, meaning it must have been genetic rather than caused artificially In China, the practice of foot binding lasted almost 1000 years, where young girls’ feet were wrapped to make them as small as possible It was thought to make them more attractive and it saved them a fortune since they could buy their Converse from the kid’s section

Similar to binding is the practice of using rings The most famous, of course, are the neck rings but it is a common misconception that you are stretching the neck, somehow lengthening the vertebrae In fact, the weight of the rings acts to push down the collar bone and the upper ribs, to give the illusion of a longer, giraffe like neck, but it is actually just shortening the body The practice still happens in some areas of northern Thailand and Myanmar and parts of Africa The rings can end up weighing as much as 10 kilos and they either start at around 2 years old, since it’s less painful to do it slowly over time, or at age 12, when they are considered ready to marry

I think they’ve been listening to too much Beyonce; you don’t have to put a ring on that It’s not exactly sure how the practice started Obviously it’s seen as elegant and beautiful but some people also theorize that it was protection against tiger attack It’s the same reason all British people wear ankle bracelets, in case we are attacked by badgers, or is that just me? As for the human bite, well it’s pretty pathetic compared to many of our animal brethren Although there are a surprising amount of human bite attacks, over a thousand per year in New York alone

And if you want to add a bit more bite to your bite, then it’s time for some extreme dentistry Teeth sharpening occurs in many pockets all over the world, from the Congolese to parts of Vietnam and South America It’s often an aesthetic practice, done with a chisel, but in Bali, teeth are thought to represent negative emotions such as anger and jealousy and so are filed down to lessen this For the Mayans it was a class based system so a fancy set of sharp fangs was the equivalent of some red trousers and a glass of pimms Holes, we all have them and they are a source of never ending hilarity and embarrassment

Most mammals have the same selection of orifices as we do, except for a few types of mole which have a thing called cloaca, which is one orifice that has the combined use for excretion, urine and reproduction; now that’s just disgusting The cloaca is standard for all amphibians, birds and reptiles though Some mollusks have a thing called a siphon which lets water, or occasionally air, flow through, used for a combination of movement, feeding, breathing and reproduction I just hope they clean it between each one But humans have a habit of creating artificial holes which they then fill with piercings or gradually expand using a series of rings

The ancient Egyptian King, Tutankhamun, is one of the earliest recorded examples of ear stretching since you can see it depicted on his sarcophagus The 5000 year old Ötzi the Iceman, who was discovered in the Himalayas, also had flesh tunnels His My Chemical Romance t-shirt had unfortunately not survived though In some Hindu culture a woman’s nose was pierced as a sign she was ready to be married It was typically the left nostril too as that was thought to relieve some of the pain of childbirth

In ancient times, it would also help her attach more jewelry to her face, which was important since anything worn for the wedding was hers to keep while everything else became her husbands, so a chain between your nose and ear would have been very handy for hanging diamonds, car keys and the remote control A quick mention too for the lip plate, popular in East Africa and parts of the Amazon basin, which normally involves a piercing in the upper or lower lip and then a wooden disk inserted to stretch it out Actually, I could do with one of those at Christmas, would make shoveling food into my face so much easier And finally, from dolphins on your ankles to “this westerner is an idiot” written in Japanese kanji, it’s the wonderful world of tattooing Various forms of tattooing have existed since Neolithic times, perhaps even further back but we don’t have direct evidence of it

Otzi the Iceman, who we mentioned before, had tattoo markings to go along with his pierced ears and his skin is the oldest example we have found so far There are wide ranges of reasons and designs for tattoos, from the detailed full body tribal images to markings on the arms and face, to indicate a slave or perhaps a criminal In Europe, tattooing was less common from the middle of the second millennium but it was reintroduced by Captain Cook and his crew after a trip to Tahiti The word Tattoo itself comes from the Tahitian Tatau and many of Cook’s crew came back with tattoos, which soon started a trend on the high-seas and made them associated with sailors and subsequently, the criminal classes They still have a negative, criminal association in places like Japan and are strongly discouraged by many parts of the Islamic world, but around 45 million Americans have one or more tattoos and a third of British people

Making them extremely common, so, if you are thinking of trying to rebel, you would actually be better off getting a side parting, putting on a sensible jumper and smoking a pipe The rich history of body modification has given us some weird and wonderful traditions and let’s hope that some keep going, so the entire planet doesn’t end up looking exactly the same If you’re thinking about starting your own cultural tradition, go ahead, but please call you mum before you stick that thing through there, I’m not sure it’s the best idea you’ve ever had Thanks for the view, subscribe for more Thoughty2

About Thoughty2

Thoughty2 (Arran) is a British YouTuber and gatekeeper of useless facts. Thoughty2 creates mind-blowing factual videos, on the weirdest, wackiest and most interesting topics. Combining fascinating lists with answers to life's biggest questions.

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