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fleur de lis self scarification

In 2002, BME posted a FAQ page on scarification, it states that cutting for scarification and cutting in the clinical sense are two completely different things and in no way related. This is only partly true, ideally ethically speaking, self cutting is caused by a psychological disorder, and scarification is simply body modification, in all truth, these two activities are often, but not always intertwined, and such were the circumstances in my case. In no way do I condone self mutilation, or am I trying to insinuate that scarification is the same thing, I am only sharing my personal experience.

I have been self cutting for a couple years, and it is extremely addictive. Cutting has always had an artistic dimension for me, so scarification falls right into place. For me scarification was a way to set limits, a specific stopping point, (cutting can be dangerous if you don't know when to stop, and I have always cut in spurts). Completing a scarification design sets limits, and gives a sense of closure.

I just cut my second self scarification a week ago, a fleur de lis above my left hip. I chose the location because, well, quite frankly my legs are already scarred enough, but I needed a place that would be easy to conceal (my roomie would die if she knew I was cutting pictures into my body), yet still accessible, seeing as how I did it myself. I chose this symbol for my old friend Nicolette. It served as an intermediate piece, still small, with no drastic angles, but curvy, rather than all straight lines, and easily recognizable. I printed off a few references and then sketched my own, about the size of a man's palm.

Anything can be used to cut with, paperclips, exacto blades, a blade from a pencil sharpener, you get the idea, but for even clean cuts, even scarring, and to prevent infections, it's best to use sterile surgical knives. You are more likely to get an infection from scarification than from just cutting because you have to irritate the cuts to get good scars. I used a scalpel, purchased from an art supply store, and sterile blades sealed in plastic. I tucked paper towels into my pants to catch run off, and began.

First I traced the design onto my skin, and checked it in the mirror. Satisfied, I practiced making the motions with an empty calligraphy pen. After I was comfortable with the motions, I attached the blade to the scalpel's handle, and made my first pass, my skin tingling with anticipation. Keeping up a consistent depth is much harder with curves, than with straight lines, but can be done. I did this in front of the mirror, so I could check my work from more than one angle. Working slowly, I lead the blade through my skin keeping my flesh taut with my other hand, a familiar sensation. It's almost a peaceful experience, the pain familiar and tangible. By the time I finished my first pass at the design, I was bleeding quite a bit, so I blotted blood while I waited for the wave of adrenaline to pass. After the bleeding subsided I checked over my work, and fairly pleased, I made my second pass, a little deeper and stronger, evening out a few wobbles. Lastly, I dabbed the cuts with antiseptic (be sure not to use one like Neosporin, it has ingredients to help minimize the appearance of scars, which really kind of defeats the purpose).

It has been a week (brace yourself for your first shower), and it has scabbed over nicely, still sore, but looks promising. To get good solid scarring, I have irritated the cut but removing the scabs prematurely every so often to build up some scar tissue. Some people spray their fresh cuts with hairspray, as the chemicals irritate the scar and make for more scar tissue, but my method worked last time, and hairspray stings more than a little. At any rate, irritation is key, at least for me, I don't scar too easily. It is in some way ironically gratifying to rip away at a scab to help the scar grow, when you have worked to conceal them for so long.

I find this form of body modification to be satiating as well as incredibly aesthetically pleasing, subtle yet dramatic. It is the purest form of body art, in that is it the product of your body, no ink or metal required. My experience with scarification has thus far been pleasant but limited. Self scarification probably isn't the best idea, especially for non-professionals, and exposes you to a world full of hurt. I am not trying to hand out advice, just sharing my personal experience, and what I have learned. I cannot stress the importance of a sterile equipment above all else, and if you really want a scarification, I recommend going to a professional!


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 22 Feb. 2007
in Scarification

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Artist: self
Studio: dorm+room
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