Review Of “Body Ritual Among The Nacirema” by Horace Miner

Unfortunately, I have read this before in High School though I did read the whole article again to refresh my memory. When I had first read this article a few years ago it was very surprising to have a look at our culture in a different light. The typical rituals that we endure over the course of the day must look very odd to someone else looking in.

Of course most will not recognize this simple backwards spelling because we go about these things on a day to day basis without having to think about them. We wouldn’t really consider the thought of how we brush our teeth or the dentist being as a “holy-mouth-man” To us, he is simply the dentist and there‘s nothing odd about that. If, however, we knew from the beginning that it was American spelled backward, I’m sure that we would notice that Miner was talking about the dentist, hospital, bathroom and so forth.

Personally, when I am trying to get someone to realize something for instance, I tend to like this approach. It gives the person a chance to be able to say to themselves “Ah, I see what you mean by that” It allows the reader to be more open to other things as well because it does show them that things we may find odd about other cultures, they might find odd about us. It’s a great way to break a cultural barrier and to expose others to see that we are indeed just as odd as them.

I found it fascinating that it showed us Americans as being very concerned about our appearances because it is indeed very true. Especially over the past few years there have been so many reasons to keep up a good appearance that I think we honestly forget about personalities anymore. It’s sad to really think about our culture being so degraded and worried about looks. Now, 9 times out of 10, a woman with large boobs may get a job over another woman who’s looks are mediocre but clearly has the aptitude for the job. We do however, have many practical things that keep us healthy that, to an outsider, may seem like horrible torture.

It honestly bothers me reading about ourselves in such a way though because most cultures do not worry about these types of things. In other countries cultures are based on family, spirituality and doing good by others. The American culture has slipped into such a materialistic way of life that we no longer have these ties to people. We tend to care so much more about what others think of us that we don’t take the time to step back a bit. I’m not speaking for the whole world, just what I have seen on the media and among the people I have met so far in life.

I don’t blame any one person for this but society allows for this type of cultural behavior due to the fact that now, for many things, appearance and status are everything. It could be due to the fact that when America was founded, it was mostly the British and French that were a large influence on the first population. I understand that obviously the Native Americans are the sole founders of this land and were horrifically driven out by the greediness of these cultures.

It is my theory that our materialism, greed and corruption came directly from the British and French thinking. As much as we wanted to break free and become independent, those traits were still within the minds of the first Americans. Why shouldn’t they be? They were still from their original countries.

But, as much as we have these horrible, ever-growing personality traits, we have come a long way with treatments for disease and maintaining a healthy body. These are the rituals that I personally agree with and although they are torture to most, it can be the fine line between life and death for some.

Thoughts © Maria Campagna 2011

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