BODY ART: BEAUTIFULLY BIZARRE - Nowadays we hardly blink when we come across a man or a woman who has their ear pierced or is sporting a tattoo. In fact, most of us know at least one person who has multiple tattoos or piercings, but how many of us know someone who has taken it a step further. What do I mean? Consider the teen not content with just an ear piercing that will put in larger gauge “rings” to stretch his earlobe, or those who decide to pierce their tongue, eyebrow or different parts of their nose. While these are actually becoming more commonplace, we are seeing a rise in the acceptance and experimentation with other body modification techniques in our young people that can be alarming if you’ve not been exposed to them before.
Body modification is not new and has been practiced since the beginning of time with many cultures and religious groups using it for identification, as symbolism and during rites of passage. We are all familiar with the stacked rings used to elongate the neck, different colored markings on the body and patterned scarring. But what about the newer trends of tongue splitting, horns and body lacing? What many of us are not familiar with may shock us and we find that we can only relate to it by what we have seen in sci-fi movies, sideshow circus acts or imagined as forms of torture.
What is new and will continue to be new is how this challenges us to look beyond the outward appearance to get to know the person. Like it or not, tattoos, piercings and such are not isolated to bikers, gangs or Goth lovers. What began as a practice in underground cultures is now hitting the mainstream of society and forcing its hand to be seen and respected. In today’s world, most corporations and some smaller businesses are still reluctant to have an outward show of body embellishments and will either not hire you or force you to keep it covered while at work. Understandable, but as these young people grow older and assume positions of leadership in all fields we will be seeing more of this type of self-expression and need to understand that it fulfills a purpose in the life of the person who has added it to their body .
Why do they do it? There are those who see their bodies as a landscape for art and will use brilliant color and designs to decorate themselves, those who love the pain caused by having it done because at least they are now in control, and of course those who love the shock value associated with what they have done to themselves. None of the above and all of the above answer the question about why anyone would put themselves through what it takes to have this done.
For me, each of my “additions” holds deep personal meaning. They are special to me and have been done over the course of 30 years. I have several ear piercings, each representing the break from an addictive behavior. My tattoos symbolize my relationships and my loves. For instance, two include my wedding date in Roman numerals encircling my left wrist and a red heart entwined with the infinity symbol signifying eternal love on my pulse point. Another, a treble clef made with a flute and surrounded by floating notes graces another arm giving testimony to my love of music and ability as a semi-professional flutist. My nose piercing is the newest addition and it came about when my husband relented after years of saying “no” and was a gift from my children. Again, for me a totem of who I am and a mile marker of turning 50.
Judge for yourself as you browse through the following gallery of body modifications. This trend appears to be gaining in popularity; but is this type of art acceptable or tolerable to you.
Warning: The following pictures are graphic and may be upsetting. They are in order from most common to the truly bizarre. Please take a moment to express your opinion in the comments section below.
Multiple ear piercings including a cartilage piercing and gauge rings
Body scarring created by making multiple small cuts in a pattern that then can be injected with color. Scarring may also be done with acid or by a method known as branding, which just as it sounds, uses a patterned iron that is heated, then applied to the skin, creating a 3rd degree burn
Tattooing combined with jewelry implants. I’ve provided a short video if you would like to see how jewelry implants are done
Corset piercing is often seen on the back but can be done on the neck and chest, calves of the legs and along the sides of the torso
Subdermal implants come in many designs and are made of molded silicone and placed under the skin
Elfin or Tinkerbell ears created by cutting and then re-shaping the top of the ear
Transdermal and subdermal implants with eyebrow tattooing and septum nose ring
Tattooing, facial and ear piercings that include gauge pieces, jewelry implants, subdermal and transdermal implants
So what are your views? Is body modification self expression or a form of self mutilation?