Body Modification As an Expression of Personal Freedom?

The videos about “Cat Man” and “Lizard Man” on YouTube give an insight into the lives of Dennis Avner and Eric Sprague. They both underwent several surgeries in order to look like animals: the first one wants to resemble a tiger and the latter a lizard. According to Jones, in makeover culture, people usually undergo plastic surgeries in order to become “normal” or “improve themselves”. However, “Cat Man” and “Lizard Man” can be considered as counter-examples. They are trying to differentiate themselves from the mass what in my opinion, makes them “abnormal” in the eyes of other people. At this point one could ask why they are pushing themselves into “abnormality”. I think that people who want to be “normal” with the help of plastic surgery are mainly concerned to satisfy their social surrounding. For example, the decision of a woman to get breast implants only reflects the expectations of others. Even if she states, she is going to have surgery just for herself, this particular wish of hers arose under the influence of society. However, through their body modifications, people like Cat Man and Lizard Man are primarily concerned to content themselves. So I think that this particular form of plastic surgery in contrast to the others can be seen as an expression of independence and liberation. In other words, the decision to become “abnormal” somehow symbolizes freedom.

One Response to Body Modification As an Expression of Personal Freedom?

  1. annavoigtlaender says:

    I think your train of thoughts is interesting, those guys could be considered doing the surgeries for themselves, and free from social pressure. But is this entirely true? Couldn’t you also say that this is influenced by society – just the other way round? People feel the need to differentiate themselves form the masses, to become something unique/ special, or just to show their difference openly. Today, to be different, or individual you have to go to extreme measures, there are so many subcultures, trends, styles, whatever, and everything blends somehow into this great cluster of individuals – it’s so colorful that it’s almost homogeneus again. I wouldn’t say that those guys are free from social pressure. I’d say, their choice to become a lizard or a cat was the same reaction like a woman chosing to get bigger breasts, only for different reasons – one wants to blend in and please social judgement, the others want to be different and break with common opinions. The question is: what exactly leads these guys to do what they did? Personal belief? Fame? Protest? No matter what the motives were, they were still influenced by society, and developed an opinion opposed to (and by this in interaction with) certain social standarts.
    Well, of course there is the option that they simply felt the need of becoming a lizard/cat, but again: I you feel the need to become a small animal, there must be something about the human life that you’ re not willing to accept.
    I think, everyone who lives in a society interacts with it, in one way or another, by accepting or rejecting it, but you can’t just ‘indifferentiate’ it and do your own stuff without influence. You’d have to live outside of society to do that.

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