The skin is, for better or worse, an instrument for constructing identity, playfully, through tattoos or piercing, or more painfully, through scarification. By painfully sacrificing a part of oneself, blood, the individual strives to save what is essential. By inflicting a controlled pain on himself, he fights against suffering that is infinitely worse. In order to save the forest, it is necessary to sacrifice one part of it. In the same way, if one is to get on with one’s life, one must sometimes hurt oneself as a way of combating distress.
Peer culture is now replacing parent culture, transmission gives way to imitation. From now on one must measure up in the eyes of others, those of one’s age group, even if one must fight one’s parents in order to do this. One of the horrors of middle school and high school recess yards is to seen as the « buffoon » by failing to obtain the group’s approval, refusing a dare, or not displaying the right « brand » of clothes or shoes. Self esteem no longer comes from espousing the unanimous values that structure the social bond, it is no longer nourished in the mirror of elders or ancestors but in that of the peer group. The necessity for representation is found in both girls and boys, but not in the same manner.