There are a lot of surprising things about Kim Kardashian’s latest relationship, and recently, she shared another unexpected turn. On an episode of The Ellen Show, Kardashian said the comedian had paid homage to the new relationship with a permanent marking on his body. “Yeah, he has a few tattoos — a few cute ones, you know, that he got,” Kardashian told DeGeneres. “But the ‘Kim’ one isn’t a tattoo. It’s actually a branding.”
Branding is a type of body marking that uses heat to permanently scar the skin with a design. Also under the “scarification” umbrella is cutting, in which a practitioner uses a bladed instrument to create scar designs on the skin, Ryan Oulette, a scarification practitioner at Precision Body Arts in New Hampshire, tells Allure.
Meet the experts:
What’s the history of scarification?
Scarification is a popular topic of discussion at the moment thanks to Davidson, but it’s far from a new practice. Historians trace scarring and tattooing back to ancient civilizations when slave owners inflicted permanent marks on slaves to indicate their ownership or to punish them after escape attempts.
According to Oulette, who’s studied and delivered lectures on the history of scarification, some indigenous cultures in Africa, South America, and Australia historically used branding or cutting as a form of body art. Colonizers later appropriated body markings, and tattoos became mainstream as technology advanced.
While scarification is still an important cultural practice for some, and it’s gaining notoriety in the media, it’s important to understand how it works (including the risks). Here’s what you need to know about how body branding and cutting work, according to experts.
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