Looking from the outside in - people, place and practice

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mentawai women and tooth sharpening

Lately, I'm really fascinated by the different forms of body modification practices and rituals that cultures all around the world choose to engage in. For the Mentawai People in Sumatra, human tooth sharpening is ritually practised, especially by women.

But why have sharp, spiked teeth? It looks so painful and, sorry to say, unattractive. According to these women, sharp teeth make them feel beautiful. Some say that sharp teeth chew food more easily, while others say they prefer the look to 'natural teeth'. However, I don't really find this practice suited me, but I find it to be an interesting alternative to ideas of mainstream beauty. We often view beauty as a very specific thing that everyone around us accepts as beautiful as well. How can we as 'Westerners' start to change the way we view beauty as so one-dimensional?

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