Body modification is the deliberate altering of physical appearance. It has taken place in all cultures throughout time and space.
Modifications can be done for cultural reasons (a rite of passage, to display group membership, affiliation, or social class, etc.), aesthetics, religious reasons, to create body art, or for self-expression.
In some cultures the modification is an individual choice, while in others there are may be serious consequences for refusing to take part in the tradition.
Modifications typically cause pain, though the pain inflicted can vary greatly. (Example: FGM vs. ear piercing)
ETHNOCENTRISM VS. CULTURAL RELATIVISM
The practice of judging all other cultures by one’s own culture. Ethnocentrism is based on the assumption that one’s own way of life is superior to all others and may result in derogatory stereotypes that ridicule others. Traditionalists are more likely to be ethnocentric, as they believe in universal morality.
The belief that the behaviors and customs of any culture must be viewed and analyzed by the culture’s own belief set, social structure, standard of beauty, etc. Cultural relativism encourages respect and understanding for cultural difference and diversity but can also result in the acceptance of [perceived] human rights violations (e.g. FGM). Progressives are more likely to be cultural relativists, as they tend to believe that morality is relative and depends on the culture.