A Nod To Body Mods

Body modifications: a subject that is at once very personal, highly controversial and undeniably fascinating.

It seems that everyone and their mother has an opinion on body modifications. This is coming from a girl with six visible piercings, none of which are particularly risqué: a ring in my nostril, three studs in my right ear and two studs in my left. Any other body modifications I may or may not have (I’ll leave this to your imagination) are hidden from sight.

I take pride in my piercings and body modifications. Before I get pierced or inked, I always make sure to do my homework. I thoroughly research artists, piercing and tattoo shops and healing processes for my body mod of choice. Body mods are fun, yes, but they’re committments and shouldn’t be taken too lightly.

Thoughtfulness aside, piercings, tattoos, stretched ears, scarification and other body mods are traditionally frowned upon in the average workplace. I suppose this is because piercings and tattoos had their modern resurgence in the counterculture movement, and corporations may not want to associate themselves with links to those values or movements. Other businesses may find body mods simply “unprofessional.” Understandable, I guess.

What gets me, though, is when people throw nasty claims at heavily-modified people. “Disgusting,” “defacing their natural beauty” and “wasting their money” are a few I’ve heard frequently. To which I say: excuse me? Did I or any of my modified brothers and sisters ask for your opinion? Probably not.

Tattooing and piercing are ancient practices. Tattoos date back as far as 2000 BCE and adorn the bodies of Egyptian mummies, according to an article from Smithsonian Magazine. Egyptians even pierced their ear lobes and stretched their ears, both practices we still see often today. I’ve got news for you: the Egyptians didn’t decorate their bodies with ink and metal to rebel against “the man.” These body mods came from a distinctly human urge to decorate, adorn and beautify our bodies in our own image.

It’s as simple as that, folks. People like tattoos and piercings because they are unique and customizable forms of expression. And that’s a valuable thing for many people. In a world where many of us feel unable to truly be who we are, body mods allow us to take back our human right to freedom of expression.

Even with the tame nature of my visible mods, I still receive unwanted feedback. I’d like to emphasize the word “unwanted” in that previous sentence. Chances are I do not care what you think about what I choose to do to my own body–choices I, as a legal adult with a job, am entitled to make. This goes for strangers on the street, family friends and yes, even my parents. Believe me when I say my mother’s dismay didn’t deter me from having a needle stuck through my nostril…and it won’t deter me from covering my skin with ink.

(Sorry, Mom. I love you!)