Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies

Committee Chair/Advisor

Kristen Okamoto

Committee Member

James Gilmore

Committee Member

Elizabeth Kaszynski Gilmore

Committee Member

Deborah Cunningham Breede


I began collecting tattoos and piercings just after I turned eighteen. As my collection grows and it becomes harder for me to conceal my modifications, I must contend each and every day with the ways in which my body is Othered by my choice to look different. Body modification is self-actualizing for so many, but it can position someone to be stared at, to be physically violated, to be tokenized, or to be vilified. This current project dissects a few key literature areas, from body modification history to the contemporary politics of modification to aesthetic and spectacular philosophy, with the aim to weave together an argument for a nuanced and complex understanding of the social ramifications of body modification. Focus group interviews bring together numerous body modifiers to discuss the right to look (Mirzoeff, 2011) and the effects of personal choice on marginalization. I look toward two broad questions to guide this project: how do those with visible, non-normative body modifications interact with others, and how do those interactions influence their sense of regret?



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