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Body modification (or body alteration) is the permanent or semi-permanent altering of the human body for non-medical reasons, most often religious or aesthetic. It can range from the socially acceptable decoration (e.g., pierced ears on women in North American society), to religiously mandated (e.g., circumcision of Jewish male babies) to the rebellious (e.g., nostril piercings in punk subculture). Opponents of these practices argue that they are self-imposed disfigurement.
One controversial form of body modification is people attempting to resemble another race, such as Asians having their epicanthic folds modified to resemble Caucasian eyes or skin lightened with dyes, or African-Americans straightening their hair. Modification of another's body without their consent for non-therapeutic reasons, such as in routine male and female neonatal circumcision, is also highly controversial. Sometimes the term body mutilation (or in this case, genital mutilation) is used by opponents to describe such procedures.
Body art is body modification for the purposes of art.
Some futurists believe that eventually humans will pursue body modification for technological reasons, with permanently implanted devices to enhance mental and physical capabilities, becoming cyborgs. For the substantial number of people with heart pacemakers and brain implants such as cochlear implants and electrical brain stimulators for Parkinson's disease, this is already a reality.
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