John A. Dowell, instructor
Life as a Nacirema
has been brought to our attention that a strange new
group of people have recently been discovered. The location of these
people is not one hundred percent clear, although it is said their
boundaries are somewhere between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, as
well as the Gulf of Mexico. These people, known as the Nacirema, are an
awkward group of people indeed. While very little is still known of
them, one thing is certain of these people, and that is that they are
highly dependant on the practice of daily rituals. It seems as though
the sole survival of the Nacirema is dependant on the practice of their
Both the men and women of the Nacirema seem to hold equal power in
their society. Although how the people govern themselves is unapparent,
one thing particularly stands out among both the men and the women of
the Nacirema. It seems as though the focus on the beauty, and bodies of
these individuals ranks higher than anything else in the society they
live in. Perfection of ones body is idolized among the Nacirema.
According to anthropologists, the only way for the Nacirema to achieve
this perfection is through the daily rituals they perform.
The daily customs of the Nacirema are a frightful thing to observe.
Each one of the thousands of rituals performed by these strange group
of people involves some amount of pain,which makes it easy to assume
the Nacirema will do anything to acquire beauty.
Among the Nacirema, it is apparent that women seem to rely more
strongly on their daily rituals than men do. Although beauty is sought
after by both the men and the women of this society, women seem to
require more daily customs to attain this beauty. If a woman does not
perform enough customs, she is looked down upon and shunned by the rest
of the Nacirema society.
One of the customs that seems necessary of the women of the Nacirema is
incredibly strange. Women are to remove any excess hair on their
bodies. This custom, known as gnixaw must be done by the women to
achieve perfect all around beauty. Some men of the Nacirema perform
this ceremony too, but it is much more common among the women.
The process of gnixaw ceremony is complex, and incredibly painful. To
have this ritual done, the individual must head to the temple and visit
the shaman. The shaman is highly revered for his skill in the use of
magic. This magic is necessary if one is to achieve the perfect look.
Upon entering the shamans lair, the woman is to remove all her clothes,
and then put on a large sheet. The shaman then lays her onto a slab,
and instructs her not to move.
Once the Nacirema woman is on the slab, the process begins. The shaman
first mixes up all of his magical potions. The result of these potions
is a thick, sticky substance. A flat stick is then used by the shaman
to spread the substance onto certain areas of hair on the woman.
The shaman then applies a strip to the top of the magical substance,
and presses down on it. After a few seconds, the shaman rips the strip
off, bringing with it patches of unwanted hair, as well as small bits
of skin. This is then repeated in the same fashion, over and over
again. Not until all the unwanted hair is off the Nacirema
woman,and she is bleeding and in pain is this cruel and unusual process
done. The woman then must give the shaman something that is precious to
her before she can leave the ceremony.
Looking upon the lives of the Nacirema people, it is apparent to see
they are a highly ritualized people. The fact that they are still in
existence after practicing these strange rituals is a mystery among
all. However, even though the Nacirema are a strange and mysterious
group of people, they have been thriving for generations, so apparently
they have adapted to their way of life and survival.