Would you modify your body? How? Until where? But fundamentally: for what? Are you really prepared? At this point, talking about tattoos, even piercings, is just child’s play because these lines go a bit further and run the limit of the search for identity through an intervention of the body until it changes completely -and to always – of its aesthetics and even of its original form. The soccer player Junior Benítez arrived there, who decided to transform his tongue into a forked one.
The result is shocking and impulsively judging for heads in stereotype. Behind are, however, the answers to the questions formulated before within a framework of stories that cross their plots, that of modifiers and modified, to take a substantial step in that constant exploration of one’s own being.
History of a way of being
Magazine Artifact realizes that the oldest find of body art was found in the Italian Alps in 1991, when a hunter from the neolithic era was found who had marks on his skin among which 55 tattoos were distinguished. The aforementioned article relates that the Phoenicians tattooed their foreheads, the Greeks tattooed snakes, bulls and religious objects and that the Romans marked the prisoners with tattoos.
In their review of history they put a turning point with the arrival of Constantine, when Body modification was considered a sin. The inquisition favored this prohibition, considering the tattoo as a symbol of heresy and witchcraft. In America there are great vestiges of this practice in Mexico, where tattoos, scarification, lip and ear extensions, incisions, perforations, cranial modifications, among others, dating between 2500 and 5500 years BC can be observed (López, Ricardo 2007 ).
The most used techniques in body modification are: tattoo, which is a micropigmentation process; the scarificationwhich are marks on the skin from wounds; brandingwhich are marks on the skin from burns; implants that are inserted into the body; piercingwhich are accessories on the body and expansionswhich consist of enlarging existing piercings.
Junior Benítez, the footballer with the forked tongue
Claim that yours is first case in the world of a professional player -He emerged in Lanús, played for Benfica, Boca and Atlético Tucumán, among others. Today he is without a club- to submit to this practice would be risky. However, in an accelerated review of Junior Benítez’s history, he seems to be, indeed, a pioneer in the matter. The striker decided to split his tongue in two and did it in the hands of April, protagonist of a life of high impact and who simply is defined as body modifier.
From consumer to body art professional
“My name is April, I am 29 years old and I am a body modifier, apart from being piercing and study surgical instrumentation”, says Abril and describes before the consultation about her job: “I intervene the person so that they can feel more comfortable with their body in a way of searching for their own identity”.
The story of this artist tells that when she finished her secondary education she began to study Physical Education, which she did for five years until she almost graduated. So her relationship with art was in the role of a consumer: “I performed interventions such as tattoos on my body in a conventional way, then my eyes, removal of bits of cartilage from my ear to place jewelry, and also my tongue. When I came across the world of body modification I fell completely in love and left what I had been doing until then to dedicate myself completely to this practice”.
April began to train in this matter. She took courses, seminars, attended talks and today she carries out her internships both in Argentina and abroad, where her name began to have a reference status. “I started in 2015 placing piercings, in 2016 I added hooks and since 2019 I do body modifications. This is a path of permanent knowledge and evolution. I also did freak shows with suspension with hooks, self-perforations, shibari, fakirism, pyrophagia and walking on glass, but now I have little time left between work and the study of the surgical instrumentation career that I do as part of the responsibility that my job implies ”.
when he attends to TNApril is about to enter the Faculty. The query is specific, that of the intervention with Junior Benítez, but history opens unexpected windows, including that of his own history. Reaching her is relatively simple, through her profile on her Instagram (@abrilbodyart), which was how the soccer player contacted her: “He came to me through Instagram, he asked me for information and I explained everything to him. The process of knowing who decides to have a modification is fundamental for me because it is not just about wanting to do it, but about being aware”.
What is that process about?
-To understand that the person is fit to carry out the intervention. For that, an appointment is made and there is a talk in which many questions are made about his state of health, about what he does for a living, why he wants to do it and he is informed of the requirements to do the job.
What are those particular requirements?
-You have to do a detoxification that implies that you can not consume tobacco and alcohol, for example, to favor the healing process that the postoperative period requires.
If Junior Benítez were playing professionally, could he have undergone the operation?
-Do not. Because if he were in a field of high performance sports, first of all it is very likely that he would not have been allowed to do so and secondly we would not be able to do it because, like all surgeries, this requires recovery time and specific care that, in the case of be playing, it could not be fulfilled because, for example, it is contraindicated to train for between a week and 10 days.
Some doctors, surgeons in particular, recommend not carrying out the practice of body modification and ensure that it carries a risk of life. What do you think about it?
-It is a great controversy. It is true that in some places it is prohibited as much as in others there is total freedom as soon as one assumes responsibility. Body modification is not a game and whoever performs it must be a professional. I myself have found myself having to fix botched jobs from plastic surgeons on ears. It seems to me that the paradigms are changing and it is the responsibility to train and provide a job of aesthetic excellence and with guarantees in health care.
When did you decide to dedicate yourself to body modification?
-Five years ago, when I underwent surgery for a forked tongue and I had a bad experience as a patient because the aesthetic result was not good, in addition to the fact that I felt emotionally abandoned. That is also why my differential is that I accompany my clients in aesthetic transformation but also in physical and mental health care, working alongside professionals in these areas.
The visual result of a forked tongue in humans is impressive. How is it sensory?
-Very similar to before. After a good postoperative period, taste is not altered, there are no difficulties in speaking or in any other use of the language.
Exactly one year ago I met death once again. She looked me in the eyes transformed into the form of a traffic accident and once again let me go. I was riding my bicycle enjoying the trip when a driver violently and carelessly opened the door of his car, causing it to hit my face and throw me against the asphalt. I received a large cut on my right cheek and a significant strain on one of my fingers on my right hand which made me unable to work for a while with both my image and my hands. This scar that today I can finally share with you on my face is one of the many memories that constantly take me back to that day and to think about how lucky (lucky?) I was. War wound… wound that could have been fatal. A millimeter down and goodbye world, then carotid artery.
A little more inside and goodbye eye, nose, cheekbone… teeth? Be that as it may, once again death decided to forgive me, and I think, Is it fate, chance, the universe, the spirits of my grandparents, God? Who knows. It was very difficult to accept this new part of me and have to live with it without the possibility of being able to cover it for legal reasons.
For a whole year I worked really hard on how to handle the irony of this thing and give it meaning. And today I can finally see it… What an irony and what a great teaching, to live creating scars with designs and modifying bodies in order to provide satisfaction to each of you who, like me, feel uncomfortable with a part of yourself and need to intervene to make it your own. . To take ownership of their reality and define their own identity. To be full of life… What an irony to face the two sides of the same coin: to live modifying aspects that make us uncomfortable, but also to live making friends with other aspects that despite making me uncomfortable are and will always be part of me. I am tired of fighting against this experience that I had to face and I embrace it. I give them to you.
I thank you for giving me your support to be able to live doing what I love and to build in body modification a meaning and an appreciation for the identity of each one of us. Sometimes I feel that I have 7 lives and that somehow part of my mission on this plane is to face terrible moments in order to later be able to transform learning into something beautiful, new, exotic, unique. At least until my lives are over, I will continue to do so with dedication and pride.