If you’re anything like me, you came out of The Desolation of Smaug with an even deeper love of elves than you ever thought possible. You relished the addition of Legolas and Tauriel even though it was completely superfluous. You share a hobbit-like love of elves and spend most of your Lord of the Rings marathons looking at Legolas with hearts in your eyes. You often find yourself looking at your surroundings and sighing because it’s not Rivendell, and you tell yourself “my life would be so much better if I were an elf.”
Does this sound like you? Good news! Now all of your wildest elven dreams can be fulfilled. With one simple body modification, you can have your ears cut and shaped to a point, achieving an Arwen-esque appearance for around $1000. That’s right, there is now actual cosmetic surgery for elf ears (heightened intelligence and badass fighting skills not included). This “pseudo surgery,” done at select tattoo and piercing shops, is gaining popularity, and controversy.
On a video that Melynda Moon, a Canadian model, made about her elf ear modification, some of the comments are scathing: “you are an ******* nutcase….” writes one very articulate user, “anyone having a hand in this….NUTS! whats next your **** **** made to look like an airplane?” Amazing. One less misogynist commenter wrote: “Fantasy is one thing but real life is another. This is too far.”
That seems like a fair point. Elves are definitely (if unfortunately) not real. First conceived in Germanic mythology circa the tenth century, different forms of elves have been brought into popular culture by the Brothers Grimm, Victorian fairy tales, and, of course, Tolkien. They are fantasy, perpetuated in literature, table-top role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons, and video games such as The Elder Scrolls and Dragon Age. So is modifying your body to look like an elf, a creature of fantasy, “too far”?
All body modification, whether a tattoo or rhinoplasty, is fantasy. It’s bringing something that previously didn’t exist into “real life.” Biological speaking, it was pretty much impossible a century ago to have the bra size 28G, but with a couple of incisions and silicone, it is now more than plausible. For thousands of years humans have been stretching, shrinking, dyeing, piercing and just plain changing their bodies in every way imaginable. What is the difference between stretched ear lobes and pointed ear cartilage? The only difference I can see between ear pointing and any other body mod is social acceptance. The only time we see elves is in fantasy works, and seeing one in “real life” could be startling. And it does call to mind the extreme body mods that citizens of the Capitol undertake in the The Hunger Games trilogy. But that’s the social norm in the Capitol. How long until that’s the norm for our society?
Ear pointing surgery is, like a good portion of cosmetic surgery, unnecessary. It’s like the Tauriel/Kili/Legolas love triangle: superfluous, controversial, and a bit over-the-top. And, like all body mods, it’s a result of fantasizing about your body until it looks different from its natural state. While I’ll probably stick to wistfully rereading descriptions of Lothlórien and choosing an elf avatar whenever possible, I am all for people altering their bodies to look the way they choose them to look. Especially when it’s an elf.
– Contributed by Emily Maggiacomo