ARNOLD, Nathan
Nacirema Essay
John A. Dowell, instructor

last update:9/13/05
585 Words 

Life as a Nacirema

It 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 daily rituals.

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.