Body Branding and a Brief History of Scarification

Body Branding and a Brief History of Scarification

Ever seen those tattoos of loved ones that don’t age so well? Possibly the name of a scorned ex-girlfriend or a portrait of a relative that faked their own death? Okay, well the latter isn’t as common but we’re sure it still happens. It might even happen at the same frequency as body branding.

Body branding is a rare practice that resurfaced in popularity recently. America’s resident representative of how-the-hell-did-that-guy-pull-her, Pete Davidson, went under the blade (or iron) according to his girlfriend Kim Kardashian. She appeared on The Ellen Show in March and talked about their romance. Davidson reportedly added another marking to his collection of tattoos, but her name is actually branded on his body. 

Scarification is the umbrella term under which branding falls into. Specifically, the process of branding is specifically referring to burning the body. A recent picture of Davidson would show that his branding is a darker hue (similar to ink) due to burning. People who undergo scarification usually end up with a pink hue of the tissue underneath. 

The general history of scarification does lead to branding, however. Indigenous tribes of different cultures would cut or brand themselves as body art. Invading colonizers would appropriate both branding and body markings. On one hand, we got modern tattooing and other hand, slave owners used it to assert dominance over their captives as a sign of ownership or punishment.

Now how did we get here? The art form went from cultural significance to unethical practices on slaves and livestock to tributes of vocal fried, overexposed celebrities. It’s an exceptionally large traversal between the two. It could be just a common trope of the tattoo/body modification community. While not an addiction by any means, tattooing and body modification are usually known to be activities people repeat. It is rare that you see one person who has one single tattoo. 

Since Davidson is already covered in tattoos (some of which he’s in the process of removing), it seems like he wanted to step up the extreme factor in order to prove his devotion. Kardashian told host Ellen Degeneres what Davidson’s thought process was regarding the branding. 

“‘I don’t want to be able to get rid of it or to cover it up, and I just wanted it there as a scar on me,’” said Kardashian. 

Some may see the gesture as sweet, but the practice is not as precise or as safe as getting a tattoo. It is more prone to getting infected and is fully permanent. Impulsive decisions are not recommended with this practice, but hey, it’s Davidson’s body at the end of the day. 

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