In Living Color – Body Modification in Cartoons

It is very common to see cartoon characters as tattoos and featured on body jewelry, but it is less common to see them WITH tattoos and other body modifications of their own. I love to see body modification making its way into the world of popular cartoons and animation. To me this trend shows the extreme mainstream popularity of body modification in general. Historically cartoon characters that have been portrayed with tattoos or piercings were always a certain kind of character: Thugs, Punks, and Sailors.  Modern progressive adult/ teen orientated cartoons such as The Simpsons and Daria have shown body modification on everyday people, and main characters.

temporary tattoos

The character Daria is a cynical, modern girl. I have always related to her on a deep level. I was thrilled when she got her belly button pierced in the “Pierce Me” episode. It was especially cute when her long time crush, Trent Lane,  held her hand to ease her nerves. “Just don’t think about it and it won’t hurt”, I think we all swooned a little bit when that happened.

Daria characters with piercings

The Simpsons continue to be on the forefront of recognizing trends. The recent “Hipster Invasion” episode featured many characters with piercings and tattoos. There is also a large amount of fan art that has sprung up with heavily modified Simpsons characters. My favorite might be Millhouse as the popular Dub Step artist Skrillix.

Simpsons characters and fan art

Fan Art and the popularity of memes and viral internet photos has spurred the addition of body modifications to all of our favorite cartoons. Just as in any generation, we want to hold on to our youth with a tight grasp, and we want what we loved then to still remain relevant in our lives. Artists take the characters that give us a warm and fuzzy feeling from our youth and modify them (as we have modified our own bodies) to reflect current standards of trend and beauty. Whether we like to admit it or not Disney Princesses are the standard of beauty for many young girls. Every little girl wants to be a princess.  Now we have princesses that look like we do, complete with beautiful piercings, tattoos, and modifications.

tattooed Disney princess art by Tim Shumateawesome illustrations by Tim Shumate

I was also really excited to see 2012’s ParaNorman have a character with stretched ear lobes.

stretched ears on ParaNorman

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