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Although interest in body modification has increased recently, history teaches us that body modifications are not new.Archeologists have found evidence of tattoos, piercings, and scarification as far back as 2000 BC, when they were largely used as a form of art or to identify group membership, such as a religious group or tribe.
Scarification is the practice of intentionally irritating the skin to cause a permanent pattern of scar tissue; data are not currently available on the prevalence of scarification in the United States.
One early study among high school students from 8 states found that 10% had tattoos, and 55% expressed interest in tattooing.
Of students with current piercings, high-ear cartilage (53%) was the most common visible piercing, followed by navel (38%), tongue (13%), and nipple and genital (9%) piercings.
Although mostly used to describe loyalty, interests, and lifestyle choices, body modification had also been used to label criminals, slaves, and convicts.
Although in the late 20th century, most tattoos were on men, ranging from the stereotypical tattooed sailors and motorcycle bikers (eg, The Hells Angels in the 1960s) to 1980s gang members, now, tattoos are collections of colorful ornamentations for both women and men.