From Queen Elizabeth I’s face painting with lead-based paint, feet binding in the Orient, Bursi women and Thai hill women stretching lips and earlobes, corsets, high heels, breast augmentation, liposuction and Botox injections, tattoos, implants, and piercings, society throughout the centuries has been engrossed in both conformity and separatism. Generation X, Generation Y, then Generation ME, what’s next? Is society heading toward “personal statement nirvana” or did someone lose the keys to the sanity zoo? Lizards, large cats, snakes, and more, gaining in popularity is cosmetic surgery to become an animal.
The Leopard Man
Tom Leopard shunned most human contact in 1987, tattooed 99.2% of his body in leopard-patterned spots, removed some teeth while filing others into fangs, and sequestered himself on a small island off the coast of Scotland. Why? He wanted to live a simple life. Fortunately, he does clothe himself when he shops for food every two weeks and has a pint or two in the local pub.
The Catman or Tigerman
Dennis Avner really loves tigers. He really, really loves tigers. He loves them to the point that he’s undergone permanent, irrevocable body modifications to resemble one: lip clefted, nose flattened, septum relocated, ears pointed, transdermal implanted in the eyebrow ridge and and cheekbones, forehead pierced to simulate whiskers, earlobes elongated, cheeks and chin injected with silicon, teeth removed, and others filed and elongated. He’s had tiger striping tattooed all over his body. What are his future plans? He wants additional transdermal implants on his skull as mounting base for tiger-type ears.
The Lizard Man
Erik Sprague, born in Fort Campbell, KY, has transformed as much as himself into a lizard creature as possible with today’s science: 100% body tattoo, tongue bifurcation or tongue splitting, sub-dermal implants along his eyebrows to resemble the horned ridge found in many lizards. Scale tattoo patterns could certainly alleviate the need to purchase moisturizing lotions, one might think.
Depending on the method used, the size and complexity of body art as well as the skill level of the tattoo artist, the cost of body art can range from a few dollars to several hundred. Add to that the implants often done by tattoo artists, too, and the piercings, the cost of cosmetic surgery might seem secondary.
However, if they want to spend their money on “transformation,” I have a retirement fund that could use a little more padding. They can “transform” it into something much larger! After all, at least two of the three profit from their cosmetic transformation.
Tom Leopard changed his spots before withdrawing from the world and now lives on approximately $500 per month.
Dennis Avner holds an office job and receives guest appearance fees on television and radio shows as well as public appearance considerations for events and openings.
Erik Sprague earns his living as a sideshow performer and also receives guest remunerations.
Nurture or Nature?
“Go along to get along.” “Don’t rock the boat.” “What will others think of you?” All are little homilies that everyone has heard over and over. Most people comply, feeling the “pull of the pack,” but when individuality whiplashes to the opposite end of the spectrum—separating oneself from the pack by extreme measures, what does that say about not only the individual but also of society as a whole?
Is it truly individualism or is it craving for attention, creating a separate pack environment?
Personally, I don’t care. Just leave me out of it! Admiring an animal is great, but buying some posters and a stuffed toy would suffice, wouldn’t it? But then again, money may be the greater motivation than personal expression—unless it’s joyfully expressing en route to the bank Barnum’s famous line, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”