Scarification is the practice of cutting small lines into the skin in a desired design and letting it heal to produce a scar-like tattoo. Incisions can be made with a variety of different objects, but the scalpel is most common today (1). Historically, the practice has been popular many different cultures, being used to symbolize rank, clan, beauty, strength, etc. (2). While scarification may look gruesome, historically it was seen as a mark of pride (1). In Papua New Guinea, young men receive scarification as a rite of passage into adulthood, while in Ethiopia, men scar their chests to represent the number of enemies killed from neighboring tribes (2). Scarification is becoming more and more popular as a form of body modification has traditional methods of tattooing and piercing become normalized and accepted by the broader society (1). Not everyone sees it as trendy though, as it can be seen as a form of cultural appropriation. Since many indigenous peoples practice scarification as for specific spiritual or societal reasons, modern scarification can cross certain boundaries of appropriateness (2).


Angel Kearns is a graduate student in the Applied Sociology program at Old Dominion University. Serving as the current coordinator of the M-Power Peer Education Network, a peer education program out of the ODU Women’s Center, she is dedicated to educating others on issues related to interpersonal violence, gender roles, diversity and discrimination, and leadership development. She enjoys cats, coffee, and Netflix marathons.