‘Bagel head’ forehead modification trend got its start in Montreal

Lia Grainger
Shine OnOctober 16, 2012

If you think tattoos and piercings are questionable, it's likely the new "bagel head" trend that is ever so hot in Japan right now is enough to make you a tad queasy.

In fact, even if you're a fan of body art, this body modification may still be more than you care to gaze upon, and according to a new article in the Toronto Star, it's a trend that we here in Canada can proudly call our own.

If you're not familiar, bagel head body modification involves injecting 300 to 400ccs of saline into the forehead, creating a bubble, and then pressing the centre of the bubble with a finger to create a bagel-like protrusion. The body absorbs the saline in a couple of hours, so it's a temporary modification, but still.

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According to the Star story, the bagel head practice was invented by Montreal's own Jerome Abramovitch back in the '90s, and judging by his website, the Canadian photographer is into some pretty wacky stuff.

Japanese photographer and journalist Ryoichi "Keroppy" Maeda met Abramovitch at a Modcon convention in 1999, and gave Maeda permission to export the practice to Japan.

Maeda talked to VICE magazine about his discovery of the technique in a Q&A, and how he's been hosting "bagel head parties" there since 2007. The practice has really caught on among a certain subset of the population looking for extreme ways to change their look.

So where did this bizarre trend come from?

"Saline is done a lot more in the fetish scene," says 'Six' of Exotixs -- a Toronto body art studio that specializes in tattoos, piercings and implants.

Though they don't do the bagel head saline injections, he's familiar with the practice and with the work of Abramovitch.

"He definitely didn't pioneer the use of saline," says Six. "It's been done to the genitals forever."

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He says that Abramovitch and others were likely the first to heavily publicize their experimentation with forehead saline injections through photography.

Six's hypothesizes that the bagel head phenomenon is bigger in Japan than here in Canada.Body piercing and other types of permanent body modification have been heavily frowned upon there, and so the temporary nature of the bagel head is therefore very appealing.

Here in Canada, we just go ahead and get pierced or tattooed, and nevermind about our grandma's disapproving stares. Even if we don't jump on the trend ourselves, when it comes to bagel heads, we can proudly say the unusual practice was dreamed up by one of our own.

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