Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” God created man in His image; in the divine image He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)
As soon as man learned how to handle implements and tools, among his first acts was to alter or change his “divine image” into whatever he thought was better or more improved. Tampering with his “heavenly likeness” has since been a major preoccupation with him, a bad habit that’s been allowed over time to run its wild and crazy course.
Tattoos are among the earliest forms of body modification, in which symbolic or pictorial designs are made by inserting natural and indelible pigments or dyes extracted from plants into the dermis layer of the skin.
Scarification involves etching, scratching, burning, branding or cutting designs onto the skin as a permanent form of body modification.
Body piercing is the act of cutting or puncturing a part of the body to create an opening in which any jewelry or ornament may be hung or worn. The ears, nose, lips, tongue, navel, nipples and genitals are parts of the body that may be subjected to piercing.
Male and female circumcision may also be considered forms of body modification. In males, the foreskin of the penis is cut off, either for religious or cultural reasons. Female genital mutilation is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. It is commonly practiced in some parts of Africa and the Middle East.
Plastic surgery is a surgical procedure that involves the restoration, reconstruction or alteration of the human body. There are two categories—reconstructive surgery which is resorted to for health or medical reasons, and cosmetic or aesthetic surgery. The latter is intended to improve or change the appearance of all or any part of the body. The most common procedures are botox, breast augmentation, liposuction, nose jobs and facelifts. Boobs and butts are “lifted” while lips may be reshaped or made full à la Angelina Jolie. Labia and penises may be modified, constructed, or reconstructed.
Sex change is a procedure that results in the sex of a person being drastically changed. Transitioning is the process of altering one’s gender presentation and sexual characteristics to conform to what one’s internal and personal sense of gender identity is. These procedures are carried out on transgenders, transsexuals and other intersex people who feel that their gender identity does not match the sex with which they were endowed at birth.
Pale-skinned people tanned their skin to the color and consistency of lechon; the dark-skinned bleached theirs till they looked like gaunt ghosts gleaming in the moonlight. The curly-haired pulled and straightened; the straight-haired curled and curlicued. Such is the heart of man, that it is like a basket made of reed, drawing water in a vain attempt to slake a never-ending thirst.
Our streets are awash with changelings, shape-shifters, gender benders, hybrids and transformers of all shapes and colors, crawling with ladyboys who are neither ladies nor boys, brimming with people who have rearranged their faces so many times it becomes difficult to determine whether what you’re seeing before you is a real, honest-to-goodness person or a painting by Picasso. It all boils down to being content with what you are, to being satisfied with what you have.
Just imagine what a disaster it would be if you were born with the snout of an anteater, a tapir, or an elephant! Just be grateful you have a nose with which to smell the flowers. Be thankful you are breathing at all! What if you’d been born a bacterium, a lamprey, or a warthog? What if you had been Hitler or Stalin or any one of the many Southeast Asian dictators mentioned by Education Secretary Leonor Briones in her article titled “Cure-iculum” (Inquirer, 9/21/17), such as Sukarno and Suharto of Indonesia, Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, and Marcos of the Philippines? Are we weremen, undecided as to whether to bay at the moon like a bloodthirsty wolf or sing paeans to it like a lovelorn poet? What peripheral and ephemeral change would have altered what’s rotten deep inside of you, changed the unhappy discontented little brat who’s hiding inside the closets of your mind? The elephant’s trunk is what makes it unique among all of God’s creations; the tapir is without a doubt mighty proud of its nimble and naughty snout. To those who love it, the anteater is the most beautiful of God’s prodigious productions. You have to like you!
Be grateful there is a God who not only went to the trouble of creating you but also vouchsafed you His own likeness and image. Thank God you have the face of a human being. Thank God you are you!
Then man said: “Let us now have our own version of ourselves, our own corporate face, brand and identity.” And Man created a Something in his image, investing unto It all that man thought to be his best and brightest attributes; in his overblown and bloated image he created It; neither male nor female he created It—the monster called Ingrato…
Antonio Calipjo Go ([email protected]) is academic supervisor of Marian School of Quezon City.
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