Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)


Communication and Storytelling Studies

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Amber Kinser

Committee Members

Kelly Dorgan, Delanna Reed


This study explores processes of identity construction among women who have skin conditions and body modifications. Analyzing seven semi-structured qualitative interviews, the author examines how individuals affected by skin conditions employ body modification practices to organize their identities and promote feelings of agency across both personal and social domains. Engaging a Bakhtinian dialogic lens, the author argues that body modification may operate as a de-stigmatization strategy that supports individuals with skin conditions in cultivating a sense of self-determination and bodily sovereignty. Shaped by grounded theory, this study’s findings trace relationships between body modification and the development of agentic identities among women with skin conditions. Confronted by medical, physical, and social disenfranchisement, women affected by skin conditions may implement body modification practices to navigate treatment, incorporate their conditions, and negotiate their relationships. The author additionally suggests implications for the application of body modification practices as somatic therapeutic modalities.

Document Type

Thesis - embargo


Copyright by the authors.