Contemporary perceptions of body modifications and its acceptability in the Asian Society: A case of tattoos and body piercings

Weng Marc Lim, Ding Hooi Ting, Elvis Leo, Cassandra Jayanthy

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    Radical body modification in the form of tattooing and body piercings has experienced expanded expression, appropriation and visibility within the last several decades and has become a part of everyday life for large sections of the population. Most scholarly interest has documented the perceptual trajectories of these practices across a wide range of societal context across time. Nonetheless, observations show that most of these studies were conducted in the American and European context and a scarcity of perceptual insights on this phenomenon remains in the Asian context. Contemporary perceptions on individuals who obtain tattoos and body piercings are examined among a sample of individuals in a multi-racial Asian country - Malaysia. The present study is exploratory in nature and adopts a qualitative approach using in-depth interviews. Overall, evidence suggests that the society perceives tattooing and body piercing practices as a form of art, spirituality, immortalizing significant moment memories, self-expression and representation of the dark. Nonetheless, a degree of uncomfortableness exists among most individuals in the current study when being around with individuals with tattoos and body piercing. Further, employment opportunities are also perceived to be negatively affected. Implications and recommendations from the research findings are also presented.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)37 - 42
    Number of pages6
    JournalAsian Social Science
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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