People Deliberately Disfigure Their Faces as Mursi Culture Becomes a Trend

There was once a time when body modifications like an eyebrow or lip piercing was seen as something outrageous and beyond cultural norms here in the US.

Body modification or alteration is the deliberate adjusting of the human anatomy. Around the world, it is done for a variety of reasons, including sexual enhancement, rites of passage, aesthetics, religious beliefs, body art, and as self-expression.

Over the years, extreme body modifications seem to have reached societal acceptance.

But even though countless people outside of indigenous cultures, such as Ethiopia’s Mursi tribe or the Botocudo people of South America , have chosen to wear lip plates, it is a practice that is highly misunderstood and criticized here in the West. It appears to be becoming a new trend, where people choose to wear clear piercings right below the lip to show off their pearly whites.

This modification elicits a broad range of responses–some people think it’s cool and, of course, there are those who think it’s just ridiculously disgusting.

In Ethiopia, lip plates are most commonly worn by women, and in some societies it’s customary for men to wear them, sometimes in both their top and bottom lips. Lip plates have been known to signify beauty; a sign that the girl is ready for marriage. The larger the plate, the more appealing she is and the higher her dowry.

To start the stretching process, an incision is made in the lower lip and a small plug is put into place. After a few weeks, when the initial wound heals, the peg is replaced with a larger one, with increasingly bigger pegs/plates being used as desired, which include a variety of materials: wood, ivory, clay, bone, shiny metal, shell and sometimes crystal.

A lower lip plate is usually combined with the excision of the two lower front teeth, sometimes four.

Mursi Tribe Lip Plate

What do you think about Mursi culture becoming a trend in the US?