Body Ritual among Nacirema Discussion


It is obvious not only with the title but geographical illustration that the article is referring to the United States of America. Additionally, the irony of the title is that when it is spelled backward it reads ‘America.’ The tribe settled in the US and is believed to be a combination of the various tribes from the areas around. However, nobody truly knows where they reside.

The author wanted the audience to read about the horrors these people undergo to be free of the ugly and disease. It was also intended to enable them to realize that we too as Americans follow some horrific rituals to keep up with the norm of the current society and also get rid of ugly state. It is imperative that we may think that some of the things we do are good for our bodies or may keep us on earth longer, not knowing that other people may see them as crazy or sometimes disturbing. For instance, some people get rid of their wrinkles, others shrink their tummies while others enlarge or shape their breasts. The other cultures may think those things are extreme while in America it is the norm and most men and women feel that if they are not doing it, then they are missing.

The actions of the Nacirema people seem pathological to me since everything they do is odd for conducting such crazy rituals. According to them, it is all they know, and it is what they believe, and it’s completely normal and acceptable in their locality. For instance, what I believe is pathological is in paragraph 11 where Miner stated ‘’if there are no naturally occurring holes in the teeth, large sections of one or more teeth are gouged out so that the supernatural substance can be applied. In the client’s view, the purpose of this ministration is to arrest decay and to draw friends.’’ The other pathological examples are when the men scrape the skin on their faces and women bake their head for a good time. The entire system sounds insane.

I think there is a better way to manage each of the Nacirema’s concerns on their bodies. The fact that they are in America, they could use some aspect of technology for the services. Thus, rather than their typical ‘Holy-mouth-man,’ they could bring a dentist into their society to treat everyone to do away with the holy mouth man. After seeing the dentist for a whole year, and the individual teeth have not gone worse or decayed, they can trust the dentist. Therefore, if everyone in the tribe sees a dentist and also teach their children this, it could be a new norm for the society, and nobody would undergo such pain and torture, but they would still go through a ‘private mouth-rite.’ Both men and women can wash their faces in holy water and follow a skin care procedure to get rid of their body issues.

I believe the new arrivals could be taken back by all the rituals the Nacirema performs to get rid of the ugly and diseases, but everyone has their rituals based on what they do to be normal and follow the society. I don’t think the Nacirema could get anyone to join their tribe and follow their healthcare system as rituals are passed down from one generation to another. The newcomers could find the system extreme and may pick a more natural approach.