Courtney’s Scarification Story

So a few months back, before the great technical breakdown, I asked a great friend of mine to document her scarification adventure for me. Scarification is something even I’m not very well educated in, and since she’s the only one I personally know who’s had the procedure done, I asked her to tell me her story.

And now I will share it with you.

It was the best of time, it was the… I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. I’ve been asked to write about my experience with the scarification process. I’m horrible at these things, so I guess I’ll start with some back story? This is gonna be a long one: 

I’m Courtney and I am 24 years old. I was that kid who watched Discovery and read National Geographic between my cartoon fix. So by age 16 I had some knowledge of ritualistic scarification in other cultures. I didn’t know that the Western body mod scene had embraced these as an art form; that happened around age 19. Google is a wonderful thing. I really didn’t have an interest in getting it done, most of the images I saw were of branding and the scars didn’t appeal to me. Then I found cutting/skin removal and LOVE! So around age 22 I started playing with the idea of someday getting it done, but I stopped researching and photo admiring to really let it sink into my head without the influence of the interwebz. 2 years later, after pros/cons I’m pretty set on SOMEDAY going through with it. 

Funny thing is when I found the artist in Pennsylvania I was looking to get sub dermal implants. A few miscommunications later and I had an appointment for cutting. So I waited nervously (but excited) for a month, drove the 3 and 1/2 hours with my pregnant sidekick, and arrived 2 hours early, oops. So I had to wait an hour for the artist to eat, nervous as all. Luckily the sweet sweet sound of a tattoo machine was there to calm me. ONTO WHAT YOU CARE ABOUT! 

Set up went like any tattoo or piercing. He laid down the awesome blue medical grade whatever (technical term) on his tray, pulled out his scalpels, slapped on some gloves, green soaped me up and applied the stencil. Got his chair wrapped, I sat down WHEN SUDDENLY! A wasp flew in the room (no joke). So that took about 15 minutes to take care of, then we began. Initial scoring felt pretty much like a smooth, drawn out papercut. No worse than a tattoo. The artist was amazing and hilarious which just helped even more. Some stripper friends showed up, we talked about how he builds Cafe Racers (the bike I want), the suspensions he does, how he entertains at fetish events, blah blah blah, basically, I have a huge crush on the guy, okay. Initial scoring finished he rubs me down with some sweet elixir known as lidocaine! Now the fun part, widening and deepening the cuts, which I can’t feel at all! Was a little sad, but I’m sure it is necessary. At about the 4 hour mark (and some preggo baby mama drama later which brought down the mood) he “compliments” me on sitting so well and not bleeding everywhere. Immediately after he cuts a part that wasn’t scored and my leg spasms! I didn’t really notice pain, but apparently my leg did (mind over matter?). So he took back his compliment =( And we’re finished, cleaned and happy! YAY! 

Aftercare, uuugh: 
Day 1-3: wash in AM with antibacterial soap, pat dry with paper towel, slather on the A&D ointment, and wrap in plastic. Washed again when I got home, repeat. By day 3 I was noticing a vinegar smell from the sweat and had developed heat rash. The most horrible thing ever, worse than the cutting! 

Day 4-7: Clean, take half a lemon cap with sugar/sea salt, squeeze and rub that baby into the cuts! No burning, there’s a nice layer of skin already formed. Basically this acts as an abrasive to raise the wound and changes to PH level to darken the scar. A&D and wrap. 

*I added something I found off Ross’s blog to this, sesame seed oil. It’s an irritant, and honestly I’d rather smell like peanut butter (oddly enough) than vinegar. 

Then for the next 3 weeks, nada. Leave her alone. Let your body do what it wants to. Just like a tattoo, or any wound really, no submerging in water, keep your grubby hands off. No bodily fluids near it or other peoples’ nasty whatevers. 

TL;DR: Do your research, sit and think, find an awesome artist, pain varies but I was fine, listen to your artist, follow aftercare and love what you’ve just been through. 

Body Mod Hypocrisy feedback

Back from the near-dead! I’ve gotten my technical issues resolved so there should be no more future problems!

Now, this post has been a long time coming, but a while back I asked some friends to answer some questions for me regarding hypocrisy in the body modification community. And these are their responses.

Cheryl answers:

1) List what you think of when you hear “body modification”. Anything and everything.

Anything that alters your appearance, hair colour, tattoos, piercings, scarification, makeup, nail polish, fake nails, plastic surgery and contact lenses (especially circle lenses).

2) Of those you listed, which ones do you deem “acceptable” for society? Why?

All. They all are acceptable in their own ways.

3) What hypocrisies in body modification bother you most? Like which ones hit closest to home?

Have blue hair, get told you shouldn’t do that by people who have blonde highlights and other “natural” colours.

Get insulted for having tattoos? The person insulting you has permanent makeup on.

Get insulted for having piercings, destroying your body, the whole shebang, they have ear piercings! Heck maybe even a nose piercing!

Wear dark makeup or bright makeup, you shouldn’t hide behind that mask says that woman with a face full of too dark foundation.

Black nails are so depressing, says the woman with dark blue nails.

So you got a boob job because you really didn’t like the size of your breasts! That’s alright! But of course as soon as someone finds out you get an ear full about how you should have been satisfied with what god gave you. Woman gets into a car accident and her face is brutally mutilated, she gets plastic surgery to reverse the damage she is praised for getting though it.. even though some would say that the car accident and what happened to her face was an act of god so she should have kept it. ;]

I’ve only had to deal with the hair, piercings, makeup, and nails. Really funny seeing people try to insult what you are doing when they are doing the same things. Annoying though.

4) Anything you’d care to contribute on the subject.

People are always going to be hypocritical. Doesn’t matter if it’s about body mods or anything else.

Perfect example, a person who shows up stoned to work on a daily basis.. isn’t really seen to have a problem at all even though they are under the influence at work, they are just “a big stoner”. A person shows up to work drunk on a daily basis.. it’s a big deal since they can make more of a scene.. they are under the influence at work and they shouldn’t be. Even though the stoner won’t be as belligerent, why isn’t it a big deal for someone to show up stoned to work but when one is drunk it’s a big deal? Shouldn’t both be treated equally as bad?

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LAUREN:

1) List what you think of when you hear “body modification”. Anything and everything.

Piercings, stretched lobes, tattoos, implants (trans,sub, dermal) scarification, branding or whatever getting an image burnt into your skin, tongue splitting, plastic surgery

2) Of those you listed, which ones do you deem “acceptable” for society? Why?

Piercings to an extent, tattoos (as long as they aren’t offensive like pussy licker or fuck you across the face) to any extent, dermal implants as long as they aren’t facial.

3) What hypocrisies in body modification bother you most? Like which ones hit closest to home?

People saying that tattoos and unnatural hair colour is unnatural but they are sporting an ear piercing or a smallish tattoo. Or on a personal note my mother got her first tattoo when she was 43 but I still got tattoos before her. She than proceeded to get 2 more, however it’s like a HUGE sin for me to want to get tattooed but it’s okay for her even though I am of legal age and I pay for it myself. Or it’s okay for my cousin to get a piercing/tattoo but OMG if I get a piercing or tattoo than that’s just nuts! I hate modded people bashing other modded people for their mods.

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HANNAH:

1) List what you think of when you hear “body modification”. Anything and everything.

Tattoos, piercings, branding, scarification, any form of cosmetic surgery (I don’t count medical surgery, as modification is a choice, and most, if not all, medical surgeries are not), hair styles, hair colour, makeup, nail polish, nail clippings, contact lenses, etc. Essentially, anything that alters your appearance, regardless of how permanent.

2) Of those you listed, which ones do you deem “acceptable” for society? Why?

I deem every form acceptable. It’s visual self expression, and I believe every person on the planet has that right from the day they are born to the day they die. Whether I personally find one aesthetically pleasing or not is entirely irrelevant.

3) What hypocrisies in body modification bother you most? Like which ones hit closest to home?

It bothers me when people are accepting of piercings and tattoos, but not stretched lobes or anything else. To me, it’s all or nothing. Or when people say you’re going to hell for being pierced and/or tattooed and “ruining the body God gave you,” when they themselves have lobe piercings, or have clearly gotten cosmetic surgery.

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CHARLOTTE: 

1) List what you think of when you hear “body modification”. Anything and everything.

Mainly I think of piercings, tattoos, branding, scarification, implants (of any type) and plastic surgery. But really little things, like dying your hair, shaving, even clipping your nails is body modification. I think it’s cool because even the people most against “body modification” do it too without even thinking.

2) Of those you listed, which ones do you deem “acceptable” for society? Why?

Every single one as long as they are appropriate. For example, getting “FUCK YOU” tattooed on your forehead with bleeding and flaming skulls to the side is not appropriate. If you feel the need to get something inappropriate, at least get it somewhere where yo can hide it, for the sake of others and perhaps future employers. As long as your modifications are tasteful and done well, I’m cool with it. Anything is acceptable, but there are limits to when and where they are deemed acceptable.

3) What hypocrisies in body modification bother you most? Like which ones hit closest to home?

When people just bash body modification in general, especially when they have no knowledge in the subject. You can’t put a a good argument when you have no knowledge. Another one is if you have any piercing besides what others have. If they have on helix and you have a triple helix all of the sudden you are mutilating yourself just be wise you don’t have exactly what they believe is acceptable. This one isn’t really a hypocrisy but it bothers me when people ask why I got a said piercing done. I understand they are curious, but use a little common sense! I get pierced because I want to, not because John Doe has that piercing and he is just so cool. (although that is a reason some people get pierced) Or because Jane Doe told me to get said piercing.

4) Anything you’d care to contribute on the subject.

Just because someone chooses to modify themselves, it does not make them any less of a person than someone who does. And if someone chooses NOT to modify themselves, they are not any less of a person who does.

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 ANONYMOUS

1) List what you think of when you hear “body modification”. Anything and everything.

- Exciting

- Beautiful

- Knowledge/Education

- Open mind

- Significance/Memories

Piercings, tattoos, scarification, hair dying, manicures/pedicures, dental/breast/skin implants… can’t think of anymore at the moment.

2) Of those you listed, which ones do you deem “acceptable” for society? Why?

Personally, I think all of them are acceptable, because they are done to alter our appearances in personal preference. It’s not hurting or endangering anyone else, other than the body modifier, when a modification is performed. Though if I was a “reputable business person”, I might not hire someone who went “overboard” (as in, cannot function on a day to day basis or the modifications interfere with physical work) and/or is immature/ignorant/uneducated about modification.

3) What hypocrisies in body modification bother you most? Like which ones hit closest to home?

I am disturbed greatly when people say things like “it’s just for attention”, “it’s just a fad” and/or “if you get tattoos, you will regret them later or you will hate them when they are wrinkly when you are old”. Well maybe I want to be noticed… it’s not a fad when humans have been doing some of the modifications for centuries now… if I get tattoos and they became wrinkly like me when I’m older, they will still hold the same significance and memories like they always did.

Not sure if this matches the question, but I get bothered when people say things like, “I could have done the same piercing for you, but cheaper,” or “They aren’t professional, anyone can go do what they do.” No, you can’t do the exact same thing, you have no knowledge and experience. Yes, they are professionals. There’s reasons why they are working in shops and not in homes or anywhere else. There’s reasons why they are always willing to keep learning about modifications, why they always have concerns about their clients and make sure to give them the best service they can provide.

4) Anything you’d care to contribute on the subject.

Yeah, DON’T be an IDIOT, go get everything PROFESSIONALLY done. NEVER stop learning and ALWAYS be accepting of others personal preferences.  

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NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST:

 1) List what you think of when you hear “body modification”. Anything and everything.

First of all, modifications themselves. Piercings, tattoos, scarification, cosmetic surgery, ear-pointing, tongue-splitting, hair-dying etc, etc. First thing that popped into my head today was a girl with purple hair and snakebites.

Then all the things associated with them: beauty, self-expression, art, etc.

2) Of those you listed, which ones do you deem “acceptable” for society? Why?

For me personally, any healthy mod that isn’t deliberately worn to offend (someone else mentioned a “fuck off” tattoo on the forehead… another one I consider inappropriate is one I’ve had described of a sleeve with two lesbian devil chicks getting it on…). What I see society accepting, though, is piercings in the ears, cheeky small hidden tattoos, boob jobs, nose jobs, and not-too-far-off-natural hair dye.

3) What hypocrisies in body modification bother you most? Like which ones hit closest to home?

The ones I hear most are people with shitty gun-pierced lobes complaining about how any other piercings are “barbaric” “disgusting” “unhealthy” and “disrespectful to your body”, and people with no clue how to care for piercings ignoring advice from less modified people, as they couldn’t possibly know their stuff.

That latter one hits me closest to home. I am not heavily modified, I’m light on the piercings, I’m tattoo-free… but the reason for that is I pay the extra to get top-notch jewellery and to get pierced by a fantastic piercer, and I know my body and my health, so I’m cautious. I have done (and am still doing) my research, firstly for my own safety and then purely out of curiosity… so it does upset me when some idiot with a nasty, red, oozing piercing with jewellery a good half-inch too long and a pocket full of alco-wipes tells me I don’t know what I’m talking about.

4) Anything you’d care to contribute on the subject.

There is a remarkable amount of hypocrisy both within and outside of the “modified community”, from people covered in tatts expressing disgust at people with breast enhancements, to people drawing arbitrary lines between what is “okay” and what is “wrong” and “inhuman” and fiercely defending those standpoints. I just wish that people would stop and think about what they’re saying sometimes.

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BIANCA:

1) List what you think of when you hear “body modification”. Anything and everything.

Well back a few years ago, I just thought it was just plastic surgery, but I realized that it’s also tattoos, piercings, scarification, etc.

2) Of those you listed, which ones do you deem “acceptable” for society? Why?

All body mods should be accepted. The person choose to modified themselves, and if they’re happy about it, nobody should be trying to bash it.

3) What hypocrisies in body modification bother you most? Like which ones hit closest to home?

Oh god, I hate when people bash it, but the worst are religious bashers. I know this personally since my mom goes all bible when my brother mentioned he wanted a tattoo.Another is saying “Oh, you’re destroying your face” or “Modded people are destroying themselves.”

4) Anything you’d care to contribute on the subject.

Don’t get gunned ever. And don’t DIY your mods unless you are a trained professional. Also, be accepting of other people’s likes for mods.
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LOTUS:

1) List what you think of when you hear “body modification”. Anything and everything.

Piercings, tattoos and scarrification of course. Cosmetic surgery, hair removal. An argument can be made for less lasting things like nail polish and haircuts/shaving, but they don’t tend to jump out to the front of my mind. And corset training, because it can have a dramatic and lasting effect on your torso’s overall shape. It sure has mine.

2) Of those you listed, which ones do you deem “acceptable” for society? Why?

I don’t think I get to decide what society at large is accepting of, but I know I always enjoy seeing well-done tattoos and piercings, and have a tendency to want to talk shop with other corset training people when I meet them. I think every sort of mod has its place and should be an option, but I think that the more permanent mods should be approached like any other major life decision: with research and thought.

3) What hypocrisies in body modification bother you most? Like which ones hit closest to home?

I don’t have any tattoos myself, but it bugs the heck out of me when people with pierced ears or cosmetic work are rude to friends with ink, and I also find it really infuriating when people with any sort of mod(or wearing high heels. The pain one is especially rich from someone in steep heels.) imply that my corset must be painful, or that it’s going to damage my organs. I’ve been corset training for several years now, thanks. If it were painful or affecting my health, I’d have stopped. I am very careful with my corsets and have done my research. Just because you don’t enjoy it doesn’t mean I’m not doing it safely and having a blast.

4) Anything you’d care to contribute on the subject.

I get sort of weird unhappy feelings when I see a pre-toddler with pierced ears, and I can’t really explain why, but I got mine pierced as a something-teenth birthday gift from my folks and I feel like that’s alright. I would probably not have a very young child wear a real, body-shaping corset either, but my sixteen year old sister recently got her first corset and now we’re training buddies, finding outfits to wear with our modified silhouettes. I guess what I’m trying to say is, please wait to start modding your children until they express an interest in it and are old enough to understand some of the implications of permanence. It’s a personal thing, and it should be a personal decision. Even little things like ear piercings can last a long time, and if someone doesn’t like them they should be free to not have them, same as people who want them should have the freedom to go get them.

Happy Belated New Year!

Happy new year, readers! I know, it seems as though I’m just making up excuses to not have any new posts, but that’s not my intention at all. 

I recently got a new laptop and I’m working on transferring over all the old posts (I keep records of everything), and the new ones. I’ve been working on a lot of life projects that take a long time to complete, working on getting work and school stuff situated, busy busy busy. 

I have not forgotten about this blog, not at all! It’s just taken a seat a few burners back in my current life. I’ll be updating as soon as I’m able to get some work done. Thanks you all for sticking with me!!!

I’m okay everyone!

I promise, I am still alive. Been sick, and busy, and then sick again, so a lot of things have fallen by the wayside.

And now I’m busy again. I have a few posts in the works, and I should hopefully have them up in a while. Halloween is a busy time for me, so until the holiday is over, I’m solely dedicated to it.

But I’ll return again soon enough! Stick with me, I promise it’ll be good.

How to Properly Educate and Correct Others.

As lot of us who understand the importance of proper body modification know, it is incredibly frustrating when we see others performing our beloved traditions incorrectly or improperly, or spreading incorrect or even harmful information. We want to fix them, correct them, educate them, and sometimes even reach out and strangle them in our fury! While I understand this reaction, it is far from the most effective one. So, how can one properly educate others in our body mod ways?

The first important note is to try to never come off as condescending. No one likes to be talked down to, to be talked to as if they are stupid, and if you use a tone like that when talking to others, you’ve already lost them. You don’t want to come off as a stuck up know-it-all, and trust me, I’ve been called that more times than I care to remember just trying to do exactly what I’m explaining here. Besides, I can pretty much guarantee that you don’t know it all, no one does, and you are no exception. Just because you know more about something than someone else doesn’t give you the right to hold that knowledge or information over them. Try to remember what it was like when you were learning, how you would have wanted someone to educate you or give you information, how you would have wanted someone to answer your questions. Try to be the mentor you didn’t have, or if you had a good mentor, try to do for others what they did for you. Pay it forward, is the term, I think. That tends to be much more effective.

For those asking the questions, please remember that these people are trying to help you with the question you ASKED THEM. Yes, they do need to be nice to you, but there is a difference between telling you the truth and what you need to hear, and being mean and telling you what you don’t want to hear. If you are doing something wrong and you are told it’s wrong, don’t get defensive. It could just be an innocent mistake, you could have taken the advice of someone you thought you could trust and they ended up being wrong. This is not a bad thing, really, this is not a reflection of your personal character, your intelligence level or anything like that. You have to listen to what people are telling you and take that information to heart. Ask more questions if you have them, or ask for clarification or explanation. There is nothing wrong with being honestly, innocently ignorant. Ignorance simply means you don’t know any better because you weren’t shown or weren’t taught or weren’t educated any better. We are all ignorant about something. Being willfully ignorant, meaning you choose to not be educated and corrected no matter what, is a problem.

Through text this can be more difficult to avoid, since everyone reads in a different “voice” in their head. The best you can do is try to sound as neutral as possible, almost like a text book. State facts as clearly and as objectively as you can. Provide links or sources that support your stance, and always remember your word choice. You can portray some emotion and intention via text based on the words you choose. Grammar is another important aspect of portraying emotion and information properly in text, you must have good writing skills if you want people to actually listen to you and take you seriously. Imagine reading this blog and suddenly I said something like “don b cleanin yo percings wif alcohol. Das bad! Or do it if ya want 2, I dun care lol!” Would you give my advice the same respect if I used that sort of LolCat chat speak rather than proper English? I seriously doubt it. Ending a potentially mean or condescending comment with “lol”, “jk”, or a smiley emoticon will not negate the potential meanness that was in the post, it just makes it sound even more arrogant.

Also understand that some people are trying to learn on their own, and are only going on the very limited resources they may have available to them. The internet is not this gold mine of information like we seem to think it is, at least in the subject of body modification. A lot of the information out there is misinformed, underinformed, or even outright wrong or harmful, as I’m sure we’ve all encountered. So just because someone is wrong doesn’t mean you can jump on them. Say something like “That’s not entirely true, but I understand why you may think that. In actuality, it’s better if you do this instead for these good reasons.” Something like “Ugh, you’re so totally WRONG. Gawd, you must be stupider than I thought!” won’t win you any respect or arguments, it will just make people deaf to you and they’ll never listen to you at that point.

One of my favorite ways to correct people is to do it indirectly. So you’re not correcting them, or telling them they’re wrong, you’re just basically ignoring the fact that they said something wrong and correcting them by using the proper terms in your answer. So when people say to me “I love your gauges! What gauge are your gauges?!” I say simply “Oh, I wear 8 millimeter plugs in my stretched earlobes.” Most don’t even notice the change, but somewhere in their brain it registers. When I hear something like “Sweet tats!” I’ll say “Oh, thank you. I enjoy my tattoos. While the process of getting tattooed is never fun, the end result of a beautiful tattoo is worth it.” See how that works? It’s not rude, it’s not condescending, it’s just answering their question or comment directly, and with proper terms and language.

Or if I’m in a negative or bad mood and am feeling particularly snarky, which happens more than I’d like it to, I respond to the “gauges” comment with a skeptical look and say something like: “I don’t remember every driving you around. How do you know what kind of gauges I have? Oh, you mean my plugs in my stretched earlobes? Yeah, I like them, too, thanks!” or even “Meh, they’re standard stock gauges. Same as Dodge has been using for years. I would like to get some all black ones that light up in purple or red, though, that would be sweet staring at me from my dashboard. Oh, you mean my plugs in my stretched earlobes? Sorry, my mistake.” I would rather be snarky to people than outright mean or rude, but it can still happen. Snark can be funny and a lot of people laugh, if you use it properly. I do this mostly to people who are rude, or in passing, or people who talk to my back, or people I don’t plan on having an actual conversation with. I know the majority of them don’t mean anything by it, but when you’re trying to hold me up in the grocery check out line, when there is a line behind me, to “ask about my tats and gauges” I’m probably going to be snarky and just go on my way so as not to hold up other people behind me with my idle conversation with you. I am not snarky all the time, but sometimes, it just happens. I’m only human, same as everyone else.

When someone says to me “Sweet tats!” I’ll say “Tats?” Then I look over myself. “I’m not wearing any lace or tatting. What are you talking about? Oh, you mean my tattoos? Thanks, I like my tattoos as well. Thanks!” By the way, this is “tatting”, a technique to handcraft durable lace patterns, like to make doilies:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tatting

Or if someone says “Gonna go get tatted up!” I’ll say “I wasn’t aware you could knit into yourself like that. Mind if I come along to see how this could be done? Oh, you mean you’re going to get tattooed, that’s totally different.” It’s kinda childish, I know, but it’s also pretty effective because most people will look at you strangely, grunt a “Huh?”, and then you explain the whole thing.

In my experience, a lot of people take everything I say too personally, or in the “stuck up know it all” context, no matter what I do. I am passionate about this subject and I do get carried away sometimes. But I try to make it clear I just want to see it done right, nothing I say is directed at them personally, their character, or their intelligence, I’m just sort of saying it to make sure it’s out there. But it’s sort of like if the subject were changed from body mods to something else, would people still react in the same way to being corrected? Probably not, they’d probably take the correction much better. Like if someone were on a backyard mechanic blog and someone told a poster they were doing something wrong, I bet the poster would take the information to heart, because it’s coming from the source of someone who knows. Why are body mods any different? Why disregard the information of someone who knows just because it’s the subject of body modification? There IS a right way and a wrong way to modify your body, just as there IS a right way and a wrong way to modify your car, so what’s the difference?

No one likes to be told they’re wrong, no matter your word choice or tone. Which is why I try to make an effort to never ever say “you’re wrong” in any sort of way, context, or tone. A good example is recently my boyfriend’s dad asked me what would be the best choice for getting his ears pierced.

“I just want the basic, standard ear lobe piercings. Can I just go to the mall and have them do it for me?” He asked. Knowing the only thing the local mall offers is gun piercings, I shook my head at him.

“Actually, guns are among the worst ways to get pierced. There is a shop here in town that pierces with sterile, single use needles that only employs professionals, and I can take you there if you want. Just let me know when you want to go.” From there we had a 2 hour conversation about piercing. I told him why guns were so bad and why needles were better. I told him why the studs in guns were so bad and why the flatback labret studs he’d get from the professional were much better. He wanted to wear rings initially and I told him why that’s not the best idea and why studs are better. I told him about all of the misconceptions and misinformation that gun piercers spout, and why they say those things and why it’s bad. I told him about sanitation and sterilization, and the difference between the two. I may have been a little harsh at some points, but he also knows my passion for this art form, and I did give him the disclaimer early on “I can sometimes sound angry when I talk about this, but I assure you it’s not anger. It’s just passion and love of the art.” And he fully understood, saying “I knew you were the person to talk to about this since you’ve done so much research and have so much experience in it. You wouldn’t tell me anything that wasn’t true and good for me.” He’s such a nice guy. It makes it better because we do have a really good relationship, we get along really well.

Now, if I had said these things to, say, my boyfriend’s sister, it would have been a very different story. She would not have taken the correction and information well, at all. She would have seen it as a personal attack on herself and her kids since they all had gun piercings, pierced themselves with a reloadable gun, and because she allowed them to do it and told them it was fine, she basically would have seen it as me attacking her intelligence and competence as a mother and it would have ended in a horrible argument. She also pierced clients with a reuseable gun while working as a hair dresser, and I’m sure she would have told me all about her sterilization methods with the alcohol wipes, etc. You can see where this is going.

If you’re trying to educate the world, you HAVE to set the standard. You cannot lower your standards for any reason, and then condemn others for those same standards you lowered yourself to. If you are an advocate against gun piercings, you cannot go out and get a random gun piercing, no matter if it’s free, if your friends talk you into it, it if was a special promotion, any sort of “better me than them, because I can take care of it and I know how bad it is” rationale, etc. That doesn’t mean anything. You just compromised your own personal ethics and standards by doing the exact same thing you’ve been advocating against. It’s like a vegan cannot eat a steak “to save someone else from having to eat it”, who then turns around and tells other meat-eaters how evil they are for perpetuating the meat industry, how unhealthy they are for eating meat, etc. It doesn’t make sense for a vegan to wear leather boots “because they were a free hand-me-down, and I can’t say no to that”, then turn around and throw a bucket of red paint on someone wearing fur-rimmed gloves or hoods. Would you take a vegan like that seriously? So why would you take a body mod activist seriously if they do exactly what they tell YOU not to do? That old adage of “Do as I say, not as I do” didn’t work when we were little kids, why should it work now?

You cannot get home-done or unprofessional tattoos if you fully support professionals and condemn scatchers. It doesn’t matter if they are your “apprentice friend”, or if you know the artist and the apprentice and “they have to practice on someone”. If your standards are so high that you will not allow someone who is not a professional to tattoo you, and knowing that an apprentice is technically not a professional yet, then you cannot allow that apprentice to tattoo you. At all. They can practice on someone else who doesn’t have your high standards. There is nothing wrong with having high standards, by the way, especially when it comes to something as permanent and potentially life-threatening as body modifications. You have to maintain your standards at a certain level, or not at all. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have those standards, right? You have to be the shining example, you have to be better than the rest, and you have to be the standard that you hold everyone else to. If you don’t do that, then you cannot condemn those others for making the same choices you do.

Another sort of education that is effective is the “shock and horror” type. I don’t recommend this sort of thing for first-timers, because it can easily be seen as an attack or if the recipient of the education has a delicate constitution or stomach, it can completely turn them off to any other education you might want to offer. It can also come across as aggressive and completely negative. So again, this is NOT the best course of action to take off the bat, but it can be effective sometimes on those who may be especially stubborn. Basically, it works like this: Say your friend wants to start stretching their ears. Your first response with the “shock and horror” technique would be to find the most awful, disgusting pictures of torn lobes, blown-out lobes, or infected lobes and caption the pictures with “If you don’t do it right, this CAN and probably WILL happen to you!” Many people will see these images and say “Oh no! I really don’t want that to happen! What can I do to avoid that?” and then you proceed to help them appropriately. A lot of others will see it as if you are making fun of the people in the pictures you post, and will see you as an elitist, stuck up, or that you think you’re better than they are. A very controversial blog using this very technique is “Awful Modifications” on Tumblr. If you would like to drop by and see what they’re all about, you can find it here: (can be not safe for work, or young viewers, or parents; gore, ickiness, blood, infections, etc. can and will follow) http://awfulmodifications.tumblr.com/

I, personally, am on the fence about their technique. While I understand what they are doing and find it effective, it frustrates me when others don’t understand it and then slam the entire blog itself. They say “Awful Mods is so stuck up! They’re always making fun of people! They think they know it all and everyone else is wrong! They’re such jerks!” That’s not true. Awful Mods does not address the people in the pictures, they address the CHOICES those people make. There are at least two professional modification artists among the moderators of Awful Modifications, so yes, a lot of their information is direct from professionals. In the past, they were much “meaner” about this technique, but they’ve made huge leaps and bounds in improving themselves and the blog, and they are to be commended for it.

The entire aim of Awful Mods is to say “These horrible things can happen to you if you choose to modify incorrectly. You will end up with bad tattoos if you choose to get tattooed in some scratchers basement. You will end up with ugly lobes if you stretch with random objects or wear tapers. I wish the people in these pictures had known better, because then these bad things wouldn’t have happened to them. And they won’t happen to you if you go to professionals for all of your modification needs!” Another point to remember that I stress a lot when people come down on Awful Mods, and I’m going to say this in all caps to really emphasize my point, is that: EVERY SINGLE IMAGE AND STORY POSTED TO AWFUL MODS HAS BEEN A SUBMISSION BY A FOLLOWER. AWFUL MODS MODERATORS DO NOT SEEK OUT IMAGES AND POST THEM. ANY TEXT ASSOCIATED WITH A PICTURE HAS BEEN SUBMITTED BY THE ORIGINAL SUBMITTER OF THE PICTURE. It is not fair to attack the Awful Mods moderators for things that are posted. If you want to be upset that your image, or the image of your friend was posted to Awful Mods, take it up with the person who sent in the image, not Awful Mods. All they do is click “submit” or “deny” on each image, and seeing as there are 6-7 different moderators of the blog, each one has a different idea of what “awful” is. So what’s awful for one may be passable to another.

Unfortunately, some people just refuse to be educated or corrected, or even helped. No matter what you do, what you say, how you say it, or how many respected sources you throw at them, they will always think you are wrong and they are right. Or that you are attacking them, or that you are stuck up and elitist and that you must have no life at all if you know this much about something that isn’t really all that important anyway. Can you tell when I repeat things that have been said to me before? Yeah, it happens a lot. But it makes it worthwhile when you find that one person who follows your advice and keeps coming back for more because it’s successful and helpful advice. If you can change the mind of just a few people at a time, it makes the negative responses fade away slowly over time. So just remember to give the sort of advice you’d like to receive, be the sort of mentor you wish you’d had when you just started learning, and try to remember what it was like when you were learning. You were once in the same position they are in now, so try to remember that feeling and do your best to educate properly and respectfully.

A message to others.

In the past, I’ve made a lot of posts about how you can deal with negative people. This one is now targeted to others, on how they should treat YOU as a modified person. I want you, dear readers, to show this post to people in your life who have not been accepting of your body modifications in the past. Be they your parents, grandparents, friends, significant others, or anyone else who is important in your life.

As I’ve said in past posts, I’ve been lucky enough in my life that most of my family and friends aren’t bothered by my modifications and some very much support and encourage them. I do understand that not everyone is as lucky as I am, and I find that really unfortunate. My family is small and very loosely-knit, but the ones I do have love me very much, and no matter what I do, they would love me. Modifications like piercings, tattoos, hair color or anything else mean nothing to them, so long as I am healthy and happy.

To the parents of modified children, I want you to understand something. It is NEVER okay to make fun of your kids for their choices. Not once. Never. Ever. Do not ever do it. It’s fine if you don’t like something that they do, but that does not in any way give you the right to make fun of them, make rude comments, call them hurtful names, threaten them with violence (like ripping out piercings or cutting out tattoos), or bully them. It doesn’t matter if they are “your kids”, they are still human beings with feelings and for them to know that the two people in the world who are supposed to love them the best and unconditionally, their parents, will make fun of them for something as shallow and changeable as personal appearance is one of the most horrible and devastating things you could do to them.

This applies to all sorts of things, not just body modification. Don’t make fun of your kids for their fashion or subculture choices. Don’t make fun of your kids for their music choices. Don’t make fun of your kids for their choice of reading material. Don’t make fun of your kids AT ALL.

You may think it’s funny to do these things, or you may think it’s a form of reverse psychology, like if you make fun of them enough they’ll stop whatever it is they’re doing that you make fun of. That is NOT how it works. Telling a fat person to just stop eating, to put down the fork, and calling them names like “fatty, gross, fat ass, chunky” or whatever won’t encourage them to go to the gym or change their eating habits. It will make them depressed which will make them eat more. Calling your modified child “ugly, gross, horrible, weird, stupid” or whatever else will NOT change their feelings on the modification. You’ll only alienate your children and drive them away from you. Abuse them enough and they won’t want to be around you, they won’t come to you with problems or concerns, and they won’t trust you anymore. Do you really want that to happen, over something as shallow as a piercing or tattoo?

You may be asking “Why would my child want to do this to themselves”, which seems to be one of the most common questions that are asked. Let me ask you a question in response: Why do you color your hair every month, Mom? Dad, why do you cut your beard in a certain way, or why are you always clean shaven? Grandma, why do you wear those same earrings all the time? Grandpa, why do you insist on keeping the crew cut you’ve had since you were in the war? Do you do it because you like it and the way it looks, because it means something to you, because it makes you more comfortable in your own skin? The same could be said for your child when they chose to get tattooed or pierced. They like the way it looks, the tattoo could have some deep personal or spiritual meaning behind it, or it could bring them one step closer to their ideal mental image of themselves. Body modifications aren’t anymore trivial or useless than that same necklace you wear every single day of your life, they are no more drastic than coloring your hair to hide your gray.

Have you ever gone under the needle for Botox treatments, Mom? That’s more dangerous than letting your child get pierced in a professional studio. Botox is a diluted form of botulism, the same horrible bacterial illness found in bulging cans of food. You throw those away for the safety of your family, but you inject that same bacteria into your face, to paralyze the muscles? It doesn’t matter if it’s diluted, it is still a toxic substance you’re injecting directly into your face. When a piercing is performed in a professional studio, it’s as sterile as any doctor’s or dentist’s office; they use the same machine to clean their tools and the same chemicals to clean their areas, too. The jewelry left behind is implant grade, meaning it’s made of the same metals that hip replacements and bone screws and plates are made of. It’s incredibly safe, so long as the one performing the piercing procedure is a professional. For information on finding a professional piercer, I refer you back to the “How to Choose a Good Piercing Artist” section in this post: http://steelbonehornstone.wordpress.com/2011/07/18/stabby-stabby/

The reasons we get modified aren’t so different from the reasons you do the things you do to take care of your personal appearance. It’s not about being rebellious anymore, it’s not about being part of a certain group or gang or subculture, it’s not about being scary or trying to stick it to “The Man”, or anything like that. It’s purely aesthetic value, how it looks, or it has some personal meaning. Not all modifications have personal meanings and they don’t have to. You can reference my post on “What Do You Mean It Doesn’t Mean Anything?” if you want to learn more about that. http://steelbonehornstone.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/what-do-you-mean-it-doesnt-mean-anything/

It’s not about pain, either. If all we wanted out of modification was the pain, we could just slam our hands in car doors, or repeatedly kick a table leg with bare feet. Or stick pins under our fingernails. Those activities are free, and if that’s all we wanted, we wouldn’t spend lots of money to get modified. It’s not about the pain, it’s not about masochism or sadism, but the pain is sometimes a part of it, almost like a rite of passage. You went through this pain to get something you’ve been wanting for a long time, and the pain was worth it. The same could be said for working out. Working out at the gym can be painful. You could get injured, the sore muscles and tendons and joints are painful. But the end result, a better and healthier body, is worth the pain. The same is true with body modifications. When pain happens, endorphins are released from the brain and that numbs the pain, or even turns it into a pleasurable feeling. This is 100% normal and expected, this is not weird or a disorder or a malfunction. This happens to everyone. Some can achieve spiritual enlightenment through pain, they feel closer to themselves or to a higher power or just the universe at large. It’s like a little slice of Nirvana with each poke or stab.

Remember this above all else: Body modifications don’t change who your kids are. You raised them a certain way, to hold certain values and morals, and I’m sure you did a wonderful and amazing job. Just because they choose to get pierced or tattooed doesn’t suddenly negate all the things you taught them, it doesn’t change who they are and what they stand for and what they believe in. They are still the same person they were before the modification; it just means that now they have a bit of metal in their bodies or a bit of ink under their skin. Does getting tanned and coloring your hair blond suddenly make you slutty porn star, just because a lot of porn stars are tanned and blond? No, it doesn’t, and it would be shallow, judgmental, and close minded for you to think so. Not everyone who looks the same IS the same. So why think that of your kids? Suddenly getting a tattoo doesn’t mean they’ll become drug addicted criminals. To say that one thing automatically leads to another is a very ignorant way of thinking.

Certain piercings do not make one suddenly sexually promiscuous, either. This usually comes up with the subject of navel piercings, genital piercings, nipple piercings, and tongue piercings, specifically. This applies to modified children as well as modified significant others. If your child wants her tongue pierced, that does not mean she is performing fellatio on the side, or that she has plans to as soon as this procedure is done. Maybe she just likes the way it looks, as is the most common reason people get modifications done. If your girlfriend wants her nipples pierced, she isn’t doing it to appeal to other men or women. Maybe she wants a modification that’s just for her, something hidden that only she knows about, same with any female genital piercings. I focus mostly on females in this paragraph because it seems that girls, especially, suffer from this stigma. Boys with tongue piercings are not called sluts and whores nearly as much as girls who pierce their tongues are, same with men who pierce their genitals. A girl having her navel pierced does not mean that suddenly she’s going to be wearing too-small crop tops and too-low rise jeans, just to show off her body. Again, maybe she just likes the way it looks. Maybe she’s worked really hard in the gym to lose a lot of weight and tone up her belly, and as a reward to herself she wants to pierce her navel and show off her amazing progress on the beach this summer, finally able to wear the cute bikini she’s always wanted to wear, but never had the confidence to. This goes back to modifications not changing who someone is, it does not change their values or morals at all.

I do understand some parental concerns surrounding body modifications, namely things like infection, how you’ll look against your kid, religious reasons, and long-standing beliefs surrounding “these types” of people, among others. If infection is a concern, I urge you to go back and read my Piercing Aftercare post to learn the proper ways to take care of a piercing and avoid infection. Bottom line, though, if you allow your child to be pierced in a licensed, professional, clean shop, their risk of infection from the shop is near nill. Most infections come from aftercare, which is why I encourage you to go back and read how it should be done properly. It’s not difficult aftercare, at all, I promise. http://steelbonehornstone.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/piercing-aftercare/

How you’ll look against your child out in public is another concern. But I urge you to ask yourself “Do you love your child no matter what? Will you always think they’re pretty/handsome? Will one small thing like a lip piercing or ear piercing or small tattoo REALLY make you change your mind so drastically? Will you suddenly see them as an ugly monstrosity just because they have a small bit of metal in their ear or lip now? Really?” If so, I urge you to seek some professional help sorting out some more deep-seated issues. Would you feel that way if your child was in an accident and had a scar on their face? What if they lost a limb to an illness or accident? Would you still be ashamed to be seen in public with them, honestly? I really don’t believe parents would suddenly never want to be seen with their children again just because of a small modification. Are you really that shallow, parents?

Religious reasons are something I tread over VERY lightly. I am not here to tell people what to believe, or how to believe, or anything like that. I guess what I’m really out to say is don’t let your religious beliefs interfere with your logical, rational mind. Religion can’t be the basis for everything, since it doesn’t always have the right answers, or answers at all. Step out of your religion for a minute and try to think logically. Would god REALLY send your kid to hell just because they got a lip piercing? That doesn’t sound like a loving god to me, if he would do something so terrible over something so minor. Would your god send your child to hell because they dropped the kitchen knife on their foot and are now scarred, “ruining” the temple god gave them? That’s the common logic over the piercing issue, that you do something to willingly “defile” the temple god gives you. What if your child was riding their bike down the street, hit a bump and had an accident, and is now scarred? Again, the same thing applies to a tattoo. It’s not the end of the world, and I would think that god would be more concerned about the kind of person you are, not how you look. Shouldn’t how your child treats people mean more to you and tell you more about the kind of person they are, than just how you look? You can be heavily modified and be the greatest, nicest person in the world, and the person standing next to them could be not modified at all and kick puppies around as a hobby. Who’s really the better person there?

If you’re concerned about the type of people your child will now be associated with because of these modifications, please understand that opinions change over time, and they can change quickly. People who are tattooed are no longer the dregs of society, the bad people, the bikers and the criminals. Your favorite doctor could have a full body of tattoos under their white jacket, and your favorite cashier at the grocery store could have 25 piercings that you can’t even see. Does your hairdresser have unnatural colors in their hair, a small tattoo on their wrist, or even a lip piercing? They are modified the same way your child wants to be. These things don’t mean anything anymore; they’re purely for aesthetic value. Your son wanting to pierce his ears, one or both, doesn’t make him gay, that stigma has LONG since passed. Besides, no one could tell you with any sort of certainty that the right ear was the “gay one”, or was it the left? No one had the same answer, so it really didn’t matter to begin with. The same if he wants to pierce his nipples. Your daughter wanting a tattoo doesn’t mean she’s a lesbian. The same as wearing pants doesn’t make your girl a lesbian, or your boy wanting to use hair products make him gay.

If your child wants to be modified, try speaking with modified people in your community. Have your child introduce you to the person they want to perform their procedure and talk to them, ask them any and all questions you want. Find out what kind of person they are, ask them what their hobbies are, what their parents think of their modifications, how they came to become professional tattooists or piercers and what their modifications mean to them. You might be surprised to learn that they’re just regular, honest, hard working, tax-paying individuals who probably have families to take care of at home, go to church on Sundays and drive their kids to soccer practice twice a week. Very similar to the kind of person you may be.

Above all, TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN. Talk to them about your concerns, about your feelings, and your reservations. Do not ever just say “Because I said so” or “Because I’m the mom/dad and you have to do what I say.” That won’t win you any arguments, it will make your kids resent you. It’s not about “tough love”, it’s about communication and understanding and finding common ground. Try to remember what it was like when YOU were young, and how your parents acted when you wanted something they didn’t like or didn’t agree with. Remember how it felt when they didn’t give you any answers, just said “Because I said so!” Remember how that made you feel, and try to understand where your own kids are coming from now. If you don’t want to talk about the issue right away, just say so, and come back to it later on. But don’t always put it off. If it’s something that’s really important to your child and they keep bringing it up over and over again, maybe you should listen.

And listen to your children. Hear them, REALLY hear what they have to say and try to be empathetic. Try to see things from their end. If your child is a minor, you can say no and stick with it. But once your children are of legal age and have moved out on their own, and therefore are no longer under your rules, you can’t stop them from doing things they want to do, things that make them happy. And at the end of the day, isn’t that the best that parents can hope for? That their children are happy and healthy in their lives? You did a good job as a parent if that’s so.

To significant others of those who are modified, a lot of the same things apply. One thing I have noticed a lot with S/O’s of modified people is they seem to try to tell the modified one what they can and can’t have. They’ll either do this directly or more passive-aggressively. “You have enough”, they’ll say. Or “I don’t want other girls/guys looking at you.” Or “I won’t feel comfortable with you anymore.” Or the worst one I’ve heard: “I won’t love you anymore if you do this, I won’t feel physically/sexually attracted to you anymore, and I won’t want to be with you.” That’s so incredibly hurtful I don’t know what I would do if my boyfriend said that to me.

While I also understand S/O feelings on certain modifications, you have to understand that people modify themselves FOR themselves. They don’t do it to impress other people, to draw attention, to attract or scare people away. They do what they do because they enjoy it and it makes them feel good about themselves. They should respect your feelings and take your concerns to heart, absolutely, but at the end of the day, you should also allow them to do things they want to do to make themselves feel more comfortable in their own skin.

I’m not saying you should end a relationship over your S/O getting modified, but the situation shouldn’t be blown out of proportion, either. Your feelings need to be heard and understood, but you can’t always have your way in a relationship, and neither can they. It’s a partnership. Ultimately, they don’t have to do what you tell them, and you don’t have to do what they tell you do. It’s a two-way street, and you have to come to some sort of agreement or compromise.

I would imagine that if modification was an important part of their lives, your S/O would have made that very clear very early on in your relationship. You can’t ask someone to give up something they love just because you don’t like it. So long as the behavior is healthy, doesn’t harm you or anyone else, and doesn’t negatively affect your life or theirs, then it’s unfair to ask them to give it up. I’m sure they wouldn’t ask you to give up the things you love, so why would you ask them?

You chose to be with this person for certain reasons, and I would hope they’re deeper and more personal than just their appearance. While physical attraction is an important part of a healthy relationship, it shouldn’t be the ONLY part you value. Remember that modifications don’t change who people are, they do not make them different people suddenly. They’re the same people you fell in love with, try to remember that.

Relationships are always about give and take, you can’t do all the taking and them all the giving, and vice versa. You have to come to an agreement or an understanding, and both of you need to be willing to compromise. It can’t be fully your way or fully their way. If you honestly, really can’t do that, then maybe it is time to rethink the relationship.

Getting and being modified is a very important part of ourselves, to those of us who do it. It’s just one part of us, one small part of what makes us who we are. It doesn’t define us and it’s not ALL that we are, but it is important to us, we would feel incomplete without our modifications. Some of us wouldn’t even feel human without them; they’ve become such a deep rooted part of ourselves.

We don’t expect people to always agree with us, or even to understand us all the time. But we do expect respect and common human courtesy. Just because we’ve chosen to be different doesn’t give you the right to make fun of us, to love us less, or even outright hate us. We’re still human beings underneath all the metal and ink, we still have feelings and those feelings need to be honored and respected. We don’t make fun of you for your choices, so why make fun of us for ours? Life is about give and take, and mutual respect, and we can’t expect to improve the world if we still bring it and each other down every chance we get.

Body Jewelry Types, and How They Work

There are so many different types of jewelry out there, how do you know which ones or which kinds you need? How do they work? Why are there so many different kinds?

I’m really only going to focus on the basic types of jewelry, seeing as there are many, MANY variations on these same styles, and it would be a really long post if I were to try to include all of them. A lot of the same types of jewelry can be used for different piercings, so I’m not necessarily going to say “This type of jewelry only works for this individual piercing”. Some are that restrictive, but I’ll list them as we get there.

So, let’s get going.

Before we get started, there is going to be some terminology thrown around. However, it’s very simple. We’re going to talk about the difference between internally threaded pieces, and externally threaded. Each term refers to the barbell of the jewelry itself, not the bead that is screwed onto it.

Internally threaded means the “female” end of the threading is inside the barbell, and there is a threaded rod on the bead that is the “male” end. With these pieces, when the barbell is inserted into the piercing, there is no sharp threading exposed that can tear up the inside of the fistula. These also create a tighter seal once screwed on properly, helping to prevent germs and lymph building up and potentially causing irritation. You thread the bead into the barbell.

Externally threaded means the barbell has the threaded “male” end on it, and the beads have a recessed “female” end. With these, you thread the barbell into the bead, the opposite of the internally threaded kind. These are usually frowned upon because they tend to be of poor quality, and the threading on the barbell tends to be sharp, tearing up and causing irritation to the inside of the fistula when inserted. They also don’t created as good of a seal as the internally threaded kinds, allowing germs and lymph to build up.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s start with the types of ring jewelry.

This is a Captive Bead Ring, or CBR for short. Certain areas of the world call them BCR or Bead Capture Ring, Bead Closure Ring, among other names. But they’re all the same thing.

These very simple pieces of jewelry have a rounded barbell with a bead suspended in the middle. This piece has no threading on it at all, the bead is held in by pressure from the barbell itself. There are small dimples in the bead that the rounded ends of the barbell sits in, securing it in place.

These can sometimes be frustrating to work with. The barbell can be clamped very tightly against the bead, not allowing you to loosen it and insert the ring. One thing you don’t want to do when opening those rings is to pull them apart in opposite directions. This can distort the shape of the ring, not making it perfectly round anymore. You want to twist the sides away from each other, one up and one down, and twist them back once the bead is in place. These rings take some practice to get working right, but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it.

My technique is to make sure the bead sits comfortably against the ends of the ring, but can still be pulled out with reasonable pressure. You shouldn’t strain and shouldn’t have to fight against it. Once you have the ring in place, put one dimple of the bead in place against the end of the ring, line up the other dimple with the other end of the ring, and push it into place. If the ring spins easily but doesn’t pop out on its own, that should be just right.

These can be worn in various ear piercings, in lips, in noses, in nipples and in genital piercings.
Common variations of this piece are the seamless ring, and the hinge ring. The seamless ring is a full circle of metal, with a segment that is removable, so there is no bead that sticks out and it gives a very smooth, seamless look to the entire ring. Just pop out the segment, insert the ring, and pop it back in, very similar to the traditional CBR. The hinge ring is similar to the seamless, though one end is on a hinge, allowing it to swing open and closed, no piece comes out completely. Simply open up the non-hinge side, insert, then close the hinge back up.

The next type of ring is the horseshoe ring, or the circular barbell.

While the shape of the barbell is similar to the CRB, the ends are very different. The ends of the circular can be removed and changed, allowing you to screw on different ends, like round beads or spikes. These can be internally or externally threaded, so be very careful when inserting and removing these pieces of jewelry.

The best way to insert them is to unscrew one end only, leaving the other end on as a sort of “stopper”. Once the barbell is in place, simply screw on the other side and it’s done. Remember “righty tighty, lefty loosey”, but in the mirror this is reversed. Use the mirror to line up the piece properly, then close your eyes and screw the piece toward the right. Closing your eyes makes it so you’re not distracted by the mirror and don’t end up screwing the piece on backwards, making it not work and getting frustrated. I’ve done this a million times before, and the frustration is immense, so closing my eyes really helps this sort of thing.

These can be worn in various ear piercings, in noses, in lips, in nipples and various genital piercings.

Now on to the various barbell shapes. These are sometimes more restrictive than rings, so I’ll elaborate as we go.

This is the basic straight, dual ended barbell.

These are pretty much a straight version of the horseshoe ring. The ends are interchangeable due to their threading. These can also be internal or external, so be aware of what you’re buying. These are probably the standard piece of jewelry for the majority of piercings in general.

These are inserted very similarly to the horseshoe ring as well. Unscrew one side only, so the attached one acts as a sort of stopper. Slide the barbell through, and screw the removed end back on, always remembering “righty tighty, lefty loosey”.

These are suitable for some ear piercings, nipples, tongues, and some genital piercings. These are not usually recommended for lip piercings because the bead on the inside of the mouth can cause damage to the teeth and gums.

Here we have the curved barbell.

This is just a curved version of the straight barbell. Nothing special, the ends still screw on and off, and it should be inserted the same way.

These are appropriate for some ear piercings, they are the standard for navels, and some genital piercings. These are also not suitable for lip piercings for the same reason the straight barbell isn’t.

This here is the flatback labret barbell.

These are the standard piece for lip piercings. They work the same way as the straight barbell, though the flat back end does not come off. Only the decorative end is removable.

These are safe for lip piercings, some ear piercings, and nostril piercings. Their flat back end is very comfortable for some ear piercings because it makes them easier to sleep on that side, the same with wearing them in the nostril, the flat inside is much more comfortable than a bead on the inside.

So there you have it, the five basic, standard types of jewelry for body piercings. Again, there are many variations on these basic styles, so shop around, shop wisely, and be patient. If you don’t get the bead into your CBR right away, take a break for a few minutes, then come back and try again. If you can’t seem to screw the end onto your labret barbell right away, take a break and come back later. Being frustrated won’t help you at all, they take practice and patience.

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