Take Senegal for example, where some women tattoo their gums black to achieve a more beautiful smile. In the below video, we meet Marième, a young women who professes that the desire for a blackened moth has “become an obsession.” At the beginning, she is enthusiastic about the procedure, encouraged by fellow women who extoll its health and aesthetic benefits.
The tattooist, a woman who performs the procedure outside of her family home, claims that the tattoos prevent bad breath and keep the teeth and gums in good health. Using homemade needles and a powder made by burning shea butter and oil, she coats the gums and then jabs the needle into them to inject the pigment. Marième struggles and cries through the pain, and ends up only making it through four of the seven layers of powder that the tattooist recommends. “It hurts. I would never recommend this torture to anyone,” she tells the camera afterwards.
If there’s any consolation, at least she isn’t out as much money as people who pony up for botched plastic surgery jobs or unsavory eye creams; unlike these procedures, the gum tattoos cost less than 1 Euro.
[h/t Huffington Post]