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Visual & Performing Arts
English (U.K.)
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Creative Expression Visual: Experience with the Lip Plate (Essay Sample)


The assignment required a particular work of art, literature, music, dance or architecture from a different country to be sought for and a descriptive essay written reporting the experience with this work of art and how something new was learned. This sample introduces a creative art from Africa presenting details of why it comes off as being interesting. Details of its uniqueness are given and in the end a reflection of how perspective was shaped.


Creative Expression
Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. This is a common proverb which seeks to illustrate the differences in perception of what is really beautiful. Even in as much as we have different views on what is nice, in our societies, there are common expressions that are accepted as standards that define beauty. Aspects of fashion are featured in the different manifestations of beauty and are varying across various cultures in the world. While skinny women rank high on the scale of being attractive in America, a chubby kind of woman in China appears to be appealing. This goes to show how different cultures can be regarding expression of beauty and there are particularly curious things in the world that are done to express beauty in the name of custom and cultural practices.
Experience with the Lip Plate
The Suri tribe in Ethiopia Africa have a unique way of demonstrating beauty and fashion among the women. They use a lip plate where women stretch their lips with disks wooden or clay in nature as it is considered fashionable to have big lips (Groom, 2014). What is interesting is that this tradition has been running in the tribe for quite a long time. The significance is not only limited to beauty and fashion but also intends to serve as an attraction for potential husbands. The size of the disc also matters whereby the larger it is, the higher the amount of dowry it would attract. The world record for the largest lip plate currently stands at 19.5 cm diameter which is twice the size of average discs (Groom, 2014).
In my quest of exploring the different ways of expression of beauty among the various cultures, this one stroked me as being unique and exciting. The process of stretching the lower lip starts with a small incision at a young age. As it heals, the incision continues to be stretched on and on in a progressive manner keeping it open with pieces of wood, clay or bones (Pitts-Taylor, 2008). This technique allows for the possible stretching of the lip by several inches over a span of time.
At first, it was shocking that there existed such a practice. Especially after realizing that there were plates that were approximately as big as the head. It still strikes me as a traumatic experience and most people would not wrap their head around the fact that this is a form of beautification. However, the Surma women hold the practice dear as a kind of self-expression and tend to do it with pride. In as much as it would be regarded as a ‘primitive’ practice in the eyes of those who do not practice it. It is worth pointing out that even in the west piercing is practiced and considered as b...
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