Many of the Plains Indians practiced a religious ceremony called the SunDance. It often included piercing their bodies with a length of bone tied to the Sun-Pole. They would then dance and fast until they finally ripped the skin and freeing the bone. The ritual symbolized the cycle of life and death, of achieving an altered state of spiritual consciousness.
Women of many cultures torture themselves to varying degrees to achieve what they believe is perfection with a fervour akin to a spiritual quest. From superficial decoration to genital mutilation we continue to strive for the bliss of beauty.