We’re people, too.

(Borrowed from http://www.awfulmodifications.tumblr.com/)

This is another post that’s going to be incredibly important, just as the “How to deal with negativity” post was. This is another post I shouldn’t have to make, but apparently I do. It’s going to focus more on people who aren’t modified, or who are only lightly modified, but still applies to everyone. This post is going to be all about how to approach and talk to modified people respectfully. Remember, all of this is going to be from my personal experiences and views on things. Some people may be more relaxed about it, and some may be even more reserved than I am. But in general, these will be some good ways to go about approaching people in a polite way.

What sparked this post happened just now. I was just called an “ignorant bitch” at the grocery store because I ignored someone who said “Nice inks, baby” to my back. First of all, I don’t respond to people who talk to my back. Secondly, I don’t respond to derogatory names like “baby”, and thirdly, if you don’t have the respect to talk to me to my face, why should I turn around and even acknowledge you? And I really can’t stand people who throw around words like “ignorant” without knowing their actual meaning and in what context to use them.

I know that sounds like a rant, and it kind of is. This happens to me all the time, and it really bothers me. I’m sure it happens to other modified people all the time, as well. It’s disrespectful to talk to ANYONE’S back, so why is mine any different? Because I’m modified you think that I don’t deserve the same respect someone who isn’t does? Because I’m a woman, does that make it okay to call me names like “baby, shorty, mami, honey” or whatever? No, it doesn’t. It’s not a term of endearment when I don’t even know who you are.

So in general, what are the best ways to approach someone who is modified? I assume the reason you’re going to approach them is to ask them about their modifications, so that’s the sort of context this post is going to focus on.

Bottom line, these people are HUMAN, just like you are. They deserve the same amount of respect and honor you’d give to anyone else, or would expect other people to give you. Just because they are tattooed or pierced or scarred or whatever DOES NOT give you the right to treat them like less of a human being, like a side show attraction, or like their personal bubble doesn’t exist. It DOES NOT give you the right to talk to their back, talk behind their back, interrupt their conversations on the phone or to other people, or anything like that. You approach modified people the same way you’d approach anyone else, the same way YOU’D want to be approached.

First of all, really look at the person. Are they talking to someone, are they talking on their phone, do they have headphones on? What is their body language like, what is their facial expression like? Do they look like they’re in a good mood, do they look busy or in a hurry? If someone doesn’t look approachable, just leave them alone. This happens to me all the time. When I really just don’t want to talk to anyone in general, I’ll call my sister or my dad or a friend and talk to them, then people won’t interrupt me. Or I’ll walk around with headphones on, playing music, so again, people tend to not bother me. That’s usually a universal signal that this person doesn’t want to be bothered, so just leave them be and admire them from afar.

Here’s an example. You’re in the grocery store and you see a man standing by the cold drinks, deciding what he wants. You see his lovely full arm dragon tattoo and decide you want to ask him about it. You don’t notice that he’s wearing headphones, a Bluetooth headset, isn’t talking on the phone, he looks “available” to talk to. What you should do is walk up BESIDE him and say something like “Excuse me, sir. I was just noticing your lovely dragon tattoo and was wondering if you could tell me what it means/where you got it done/who the artist was/I just wanted to say it’s beautiful/whatever you want to ask.” That is polite, respectful, and makes the modified person want to talk to you. Do not walk behind him and say loudly “Sweet tat, bro.” or anything like that and just keep walking. That’s rude for several reasons. Again, you’re talking to his back, almost behind his back, and you’re not even letting him know who’s talking to him. I almost see that as a cowardly thing to do. If you really wanted to talk to my face, you’d have done it. But you’d rather talk to my back and walk away so I don’t have a chance to talk back to you.

Along that same vein, don’t make comments to modified people who are walking past you, or when you walk past them. Again, it’s rude. It doesn’t give them the chance to say “thank you” or even know who’s talking to them. Don’t talk ABOUT modified people either. That’s talking behind their back, and usually, the person can tell. Don’t stare, don’t whisper to your friend, either say what you want to to the person, or don’t do anything at all. If you would like to say something, try to stop them, or get their attention and say it. We’ll get into how to PROPERLY stop someone to talk to them next.

Under no circumstances is it ever okay to touch someone who is modified. I absolutely cannot stress this enough. DO NOT EVER grab someone, touch them, tap them, anything like that. Keep your hands to yourself! That is a violation of personal space, and it could even be seen as assault. I’ve been grabbed before, fairly violently, and it is NOT a fun experience. I will never ever talk to someone who grabs me to see my tattoo. And it is NEVER okay for you to grab someone or touch someone, even if all you want is to see their tattoo. It’s incredibly inappropriate, rude, and again, you can have an assault charge filed against you. Or you could end up getting punched, which is what happened to the guy who grabbed me. I was lucky enough to avoid an assault charge since he was the aggressor and I was defending myself, but still, DON’T EVER DO IT!!!

What is a good way to stop someone who is modified? Again, with this sort of thing, always think to yourself before you act “Would I like to be approached this way?” If the answer is no, don’t do it. But in general, if you are standing and someone is walking by you and you’d like to get their attention, a good way to start is to always say, POLITELY, “Excuse me.” or “Pardon me.” You could even go as far as to add “sir or ma’am” to it, if you’d like. You may walk toward someone to get their attention, but again, DO NOT grab them, or try to stop them from walking or block their path. Look them in the eye, smile, relax your posture and stance, be receptive. If you look aggressive or confrontational, the modified person is going to see you as a threat and not want to stop or talk to you. Once they see you and acknowledge you, then you can say or ask what you’d like to. If someone doesn’t stop or ignores you, it is NEVER okay to yell something behind their back. Just move on. Maybe they had headphones on you couldn’t see, maybe they were in a rush and didn’t want to be stopped, maybe they just weren’t paying attention or didn’t hear you. Either way, just shrug it off and move on. It is not an offense against you, trust me, so don’t take it as one.

Once you have someone’s attention, how do you speak to them, and ask them your questions? As I’ve already said, common courtesy applies here as well. Say to yourself “Is this an inappropriate question? Is this rude? Is this condescending or derogatory?” If the answer is yes to any of those, best not to ask. Again, some people are more open to questions than others, but remember what Thumper from Bambi said? “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all!” Depending on how the conversation goes, how receptive the person is to questions, maybe you could venture your more personal questions to them, but until they seem ready for it, don’t throw that out there right away.

A good example of this is another one of my own experiences. I was out with some girlfriends in a local pub back in Seattle. We were hanging out at our booth, talking, drinking, watching the sports game on the various televisions, that sort of thing. All of a sudden, some strange man walks up, sits next to me at our booth like he belongs there and says “So I was just noticing your tattoos and piercings and was wondering if you were into pain in the bedroom as well.” I was so shocked and dumbfounded and appalled I couldn’t say anything right away. Luckily, my girls stuck up for me and verbally abused the guy enough that security came over to see what was going on. He was escorted away from us and told not to even look over in our direction.

Another important thing to remember is just because the modified person is a woman, does not give you the right to call her names, “nice” names or otherwise. Sure, you might think it’s cute to call a woman “honey, shorty, mami, or baby” or whatever, but honestly, it’s NOT. Most women don’t appreciate cat calls and names like that, so do not ever use one when addressing a woman. Many people seem to think that because you’re a woman, that all respect goes out the window, double that if they’re modified. Women tend to be more sensitive to people approaching them than men are, mostly because our instincts tell us to be aware of our surroundings and to be wary when you see someone approaching you, looking like they’re on a mission. Our guard goes up and we immediately become defensive. It’s NOT YOU, it’s just the way women are and how we protect ourselves. Women are constantly victimized in society, physically and otherwise, so it’s just an instinctual reaction to be nervous when someone approaches us.

Going back to the whole touching thing, DO NOT stick your fingers though someone’s stretched ears. I hear this happening to people all the time. My stretched ears aren’t large enough for this, but I have had a woman grab my large hanging, delicate horn earrings and twist them backwards in order “to see them”. She nearly tore my ear off and nearly broke my incredibly expensive earrings by invading my space. I didn’t even know she was standing behind me! Rather than just asking me to turn around so she could see them, she thought it was appropriate to GRAB my earrings, turn them around backwards, and then was offended when I was angry with her for hurting me. Don’t be like this person! Remember what you were taught as a child; look with your eyes, not with your hands, and ask before you touch!

Once you’ve started your conversation with the modified person, be receptive to what they have to say. Don’t interrupt, don’t roll your eyes if they say something you don’t agree with, don’t laugh at them for their choice in tattoo or piercing, don’t start a conversation with someone just to talk down to them, make fun of them, or try to “save them”, as has happened to me many times, as well. I’ll say it again: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say ANYTHING AT ALL.” Again, this goes back to the thought you’re supposed to have before asking anything: “Would I like this said to me? Would I find this question offensive or inappropriate or rude? Would I be willing to answer something like this?”

At the end of the conversation, say thank you. Really, the impact those two little words make is huge. And honestly, this person took time out of their day to talk to you, you should feel honored and special that they thought you were deserving of their time and attention. I know that sounds arrogant and stuck up, but it’s the truth. I didn’t HAVE to talk to you just because you wanted me to, I CHOSE to talk to you because I wanted to. Thank the person for their time, for sharing with you, and wish them a good day. You started this conversation on a good note, so let’s end it on a good note, yeah? And who knows, you may have just made a new friend.

Bottom line, you get back what you give. If you are rude to someone, expect rudeness back. Being modified does NOT mean that they are less of a person. Being modified does not mean they’re “asking for it” or asking for attention. Being modified does not give you the right to treat them as a freak, or to ignore your own sense of common sense and courtesy, throw it out the window, and say or do whatever you want to someone. Modified people are still PEOPLE, with families and jobs and lives, who deserve the same respect you’d give anyone else, or more importantly, to yourself. If YOU wouldn’t want to be approached a certain way, if YOU wouldn’t want something said to you, don’t say it or do it to other people, modified or not.

Please, leave me your comments and stories in the comments. I would love to hear back about what you guys feel and think about this sort of situation.

What do you mean it doesn’t mean anything?

I honestly believe that this is a bit of a misconception, and that people who get tattooed without some deep meaningful story behind the tattoo are looked down upon. I just wanted to voice my thoughts on this subject.

To think that every tattoo or every piercing needs a personal story behind it is a little pretentious to me. There is nothing wrong with just having a tattoo because it’s pretty, there is nothing wrong with getting a piercing just because you like the way it looks. But what’s the difference between getting a tattoo without meaning and getting one on a whim?

Let’s use flower tattoos as an example. Flowers alone have certain meanings, like red roses are for love, daisy is for innocence, calla lily symbolizes royalty, and so on. Beyond that, whatever the tattoo means to the person wearing it is up to them. I honestly think that a tattoo doesn’t need any more than maybe a one or two sentence explanation, like “I was really close to my grandmother, so when she died I got her favorite flower, the Calla lily, tattooed on me.” That’s plenty of explanation. I hate hearing this sort of thing: “The red rose is the flower of passionate love. Its blood red color symbolizes the blood I’ve shed in the name of this meaningless and frivolous emotion. The thorns represent how many times I’ve been stabbed in the back, and the fallen petals are the pieces of my heart that have broken off and will now wither and die, never to be made whole again.” I honestly want to laugh. That’s entirely unnecessary. It sounds more to me like you’re trying to justify why you got the tattoo to yourself, rather than to anyone else, with a long drawn out explanation like that.

If that’s what it honestly means to you, then fine. But not every tattoo needs some paragraph story behind it. It doesn’t make the tattoo any less meaningful to the person wearing it. Remember, tattoos are not for other people, they’re only for the wearer.

For me, I think a tattoo without meaning still means something to you. Using myself as an example, I have both of my zodiac signs tattooed on me, eastern and western. They just mean that I’m an Aquarius and a Tiger. Beyond that, they don’t mean anything. They don’t need any more meaning than that, and whatever meaning the signs themselves may hold.

And also be aware that you don’t have to explain your tattoos to everyone who asks if you don’t want to. It’s YOUR tattoo, on YOUR body, and they are asking you about it. If you don’t feel like talking to them, or talking about your tattoo, politely refuse them and move on. Something like “It’s a long story and I’m in a hurry, but thank you for your interest.” would be just fine and plenty polite. If people don’t understand, then did you really want to talk to them in the first place?

One thing to consider when getting tattooed, however, is if you’re getting a symbol or imagery from another culture, MAKE SURE it’s done correctly, with sensitivity, and in the right way. I have two Japanese kanji characters on me, and I know for a fact they are right. Been verified by a native Japanese speaker and a friend who’s been studying the language for a good six years, as well as both of his instructors in the language. A good example of this is I once heard the story of a woman who wanted to get her eastern zodiac symbol, the Rooster, tattooed on her. She looked up the kanji for “chicken”, then went in and got it. She later learns that the word “chicken” is a derogatory term, I think in Vietnamese, used for female prostitutes. Yeah, don’t be like her.

Other cultures sometimes hold their images and traditions very closely, so if you do get something tattooed on you from another culture, make sure you keep their feelings in mind, at least a little bit. Make sure you’re presenting this image in the right way. Most of my tattoos are Asian themed, but ethnically, I’m French, German, Finnish and Russian. Does that mean you can’t have tattoos from other cultures? Certainly not! Just make sure you’ve done them in the right way, used the right symbols and images for the tattoo you’re trying to make and the intention you’re trying to portray. Be sensitive and respectful of the cultures you’re representing on your body for the rest of your life. Otherwise, go for it.

Piercings are the same way. Many have said that piercings should only be done with the same tribal or original spirit in mind, meaning don’t get a certain piercing if you aren’t doing it for the original reason it was intended for. Take nostril piercings, for example. In the Middle East, a woman will receive a gold nose ring from her husband when they are married as a symbol of their marriage and status, and to provide her with a valuable piece of jewelry which she can use as money in case anything were to happen to the husband. Many will say that if you’re not piercing your nostril with that same drive in mind, then you shouldn’t be getting it at all.

I think that’s a TERRIBLE reason to do something, if that’s the only reason you’re doing it. And frankly, that’s really pretentious and stuck up to suggest to someone that their piercing has less meaning because they didn’t do it for the traditional reasons. As was stated above, the reasons you get modified are your own entirely, and you are by no means obligated to explain your reasoning to anyone if you don’t want to. If you honestly just like the look of a piercing, then get it. Sure, it’s nice to know the history of where it comes from, what it means, what cultures practiced it and for what reasons, but that doesn’t need to be the only reason you should be getting pierced.

My only suggestion is that you don’t get modified out of anger, as a coping mechanism, while under the influence of any substance, or just to piss someone off. Just because you’ve had a bad day is not a good enough reason to get an invasive procedure done. You’re acting on impulse when you’re angry or upset, and you’re more likely to regret your piercing or tattoo later on once you’ve calmed down.

So really, not every tattoo or piercing needs a deep meaningful meaning behind it. Bottom line, so long as YOU like it, that’s all that matters.

“But Mooomm!!!”

I get this question posed to me a lot, and since more and more young people are wanting to get pierced and tattooed, I figure this is a good time to cover this sort of issue.

There are a lot of variables to this question, and every parent is different, as well as every desiring piercee/tattooee. But here are some basic techniques you could try.

Here are some of the common things parents say.

1) “You’re not old enough.”
This one is pretty self-explanatory. In the US, the average age to get anything other than lobes pierced is 16, and you must have parental consent. It’s pretty much universal that you cannot be tattooed until you are 18, regardless of parental consent. At 18, you’re a legal adult and can do whatever you want.

Some shops will not pierce your face if you’re under 18, even with parental consent, so this restricts your piercing options to various ear piercings, and possibly the navel. You CANNOT get nipples, genitals, or any surface piercings (including microdermals) until you are 18, on average. I’ve heard of some states requiring that you are 21 for these. These rules vary shop by shop, and sometimes state by state, so do your research, call around, and know your stuff.

2) “You’re not responsible enough.”
This one falls entirely on YOU. What have you done to prove to your parents that you’re ready for this? Do you do as you’re told or asked? When your mom tells you to clean the cat box or take out the trash, do you do it right away, or do you fight tooth and nail? Start to prove to your parents that you can take on responsibility and that will always work in your favor. Get good grades, be home before curfew, be respectful to your parents and siblings, that sort of thing.

3) “They’re unsafe.”
Education is always awesome. Many baby boomer-age parents still believe that tongue piercings WILL make your face go numb or paralyzed, some believe that you’ll lose your sense of taste, some believe that certain ear piercings will make you go deaf. Some older adults even believe that chest/breast tattoos make you unable to breast feed in the future. These are all entirely false, and honestly, the tattooed breast one makes me laugh. Tattoos don’t even rest as deeply as hair follicles under the skin, so how could they possibly interfere with breast milk production? Do your research, show them reputable websites that prove it’s all untrue, talk to doctors, show them anatomy pictures that show there are no major nerves or veins in the area that could cause such side effects. These worries are all old wives tales, perpetuated by people who have no respect or understanding for this art form.

Many also only visualize tattoo and piercing parlors as dirty, drug infested, houses of horror that only bikers, felons, and crack addicts frequent. This is very much NOT true anymore. A good shop will be as clean as a doctor’s office, since they use much of the same equipment as doctors. Go in on your own someday and talk to the piercer about their sterilization practices, see if they have any brochures or pamphlets you could take home that explain how they keep things clean. If you can convince your parents to go with you, have THEM talk directly to the piercer or tattoo artist about how to keep the piercing or tattoo clean, how clean they keep the area and their tools. Have them show their autoclave spore test records, have them show any certifications or licenses they have from the state to operate, ask for them to show any health department records they may have showing that they’ve been approved or passed inspections.

4) “They’re unclean or it’ll get infected.”
Infection is 99% wearer error, NOT artist error. Make sure they know this, and that if anything goes wrong it will be because YOU screwed up taking care of it, not because of anything the piercer or tattoo artist did, and it’s not the fault of the piercing or tattoo itself. No one piercing is more prone to infection than any other, and no tattoo is inherently infectious. This also goes back to the “You’re not responsible enough” excuse. If you can prove to your parents that you can properly take care of this piercing or tattoo, that will also show them that you’ve done your research, you know what to do and can take care of it. Explain why alcohol is inappropriate to clean with, why Peroxide is inappropriate to clean with as well. Explain that many of the piercing metals used are implant grade, meaning they’re the same quality of metal used in hip replacements, broken leg plates and screws, etc. If they’re safe enough to be implanted against bone and muscles and replace joints, they’re safe enough to go through your lip.

Also, KNOW THE DIFFERENCE between infection and irritation. Many people still believe that any fluid secretion and any redness is automatically infection, and that’s very much not true. This goes back to doing your research and being responsible enough to take care of it.

Many tattoo inks are organic and even vegan, so there are no hazardous, cancer causing chemicals in them. It is true that some people can be allergic to red inks and white inks, but in that case that’s an allergic reaction, not an infection or the cause of the ink itself. It usually just means you have sensitive skin and can try using another mix or brand of ink, since not all brands and mixes are the same. Again, it’s not the fault of you, the artist or the tattoo itself, it just means you’re unlucky.

5) “You won’t be able to get a job.”
This is also pretty much untrue, and it really upsets me that people still believe this. You can take out a piercing if you want, and usually just be left with a small scar that resembles an acne scar. If that happens, a swish of makeup and it’s gone. You can also get over the counter scar treatment creams and oils to minimize scarring once it’s healed over completely. BioOil is a good one.

You can also wear clear plastic or glass retainers in facial piercings, that can sometimes make them nearly invisible to the eye. Their function is to hold your piercing open while remaining as unobtrusive as possible. It won’t hide it completely, like it was never there, but it can minimize the piercing very much and many employers will compromise that if you wear clear retainers, you can have the piercing. So long as you keep them to a minimum.

Tattoos cannot be removed, this is true, for the most part. Other than extremely expensive laser surgery that can cost several times more than the tattoo originally did, they are to be considered permanent. Tell your parents you’re not going to tattoo your face, your throat, your knuckles, or any other extremely obvious place. This goes back to responsibility. Make sure they know that the artwork you want tattooed is classy, pretty, appropriate, meaningful, etc. You’re not going to get naked zombie chicks humping flaming devil skulls tattooed on the front of your throat.

Also, many companies carry tattoo coverup makeup, Dermablend being one and even Makeup Forever (available at Sephora) carried something once that was touted as a movie-quality coverup makeup. Also, there is a company called TatJacket that makes individual sleeves you can use to cover tattoos in the workplace. http://www.tatjacket.com is their website. I have a pair of these, and they’re pretty darn awesome.

Employeers are becoming slowly more and more accepting of body mods. Many food industry jobs allow you to have a nostril stud (not ring) on the job, some allow visible tattoos so long as they’re not offensive (naked chicks and devil skulls, remember?) and if you get the tattoo in an area covered by regular clothes anyway, who’s ever going to know?

6) “You’ll regret it when you’re old/when you’re 80. It’ll sag and be ugly when you’re old.”
My favorite response to this is: “I’ll be old/I’ll be 80. I WON’T CARE what I look like at that point.” Make sure you get something you won’t regret. Get something that means something to you, even if you just want it because you like the artwork and want to be a walking canvas. Getting a tattoo just because it’s a lovely image is just as legitimate a reason as a memorial tattoo to your late grandmother. Tattoos don’t need some long drawn out elaborate meaning behind them. So long as YOU like it, and will like it for the rest of your life, it doesn’t matter.

7) For stretched ears, many will say “It’s irreversible/gross/unclean/unhealthy/etc.”
This is a little bit different. Stretching should be considered a permanent modification, because once you hit a certain size (which is different for everyone, but is usually around 2ga) it’s very unlikely that you’ll shrink back down to a “normal” size, or as if you were never pierced at all.

You CAN reverse ear stretching, in several ways. One, you don’t stretch too large. Again, the general agreement is that 2ga is the “point of no return”. Some can go back down, some can’t. There’s really no way to tell, so don’t stretch that far unless you are SURE that you don’t ever want to go back. If you do want to stretch beyond that then decide later that you don’t want large stretched lobes anymore, many body mod artists can sew your lobes back together, and make them look sometimes as if nothing ever happened. This is usually for extremely large stretched ears, we’re talking maybe an inch or more, and wouldn’t really be viable for someone at a 0ga or 7/16ths.

A common misconception is that stretched lobes smell. Your parents may or may not know this, but if they do, again, EDUCATION. They only smell if you don’t shower, bathe, clean your body and jewelry, etc. There is no reason your lobes should smell if you practice simple, basic hygiene. Wearing organic materials (horn, bone, wood, stone, etc.) can also minimize any smell that may arise. Sometimes people who wear metal or acrylic notice more of a smell, no matter how clean they keep them. They’re just one of those unlucky people, is all.

Also, wear tasteful jewelry. Show your parents how beautiful stretched lobes can be. Wear stone flowers, black horn wings, pretty white bone spirals. If all you wear are gigantic tunnels or acrylic plugs with rotting eyeballs in them, then yeah, they probably won’t like that.

8 ) Now, what if you do all this and your parents still say no?
That means you WAIT until you are 18, are out from under their roof and not dependent on them for anything, and can go get it done yourself, under your own power, with your own money. You are an adult at 18 in the eyes of the law, and your parents can’t stop you at that point. Because they say no, that DOES NOT mean you do it yourself, get your friends to do it, go to a sub-standard shop and get it done underage anyway. This is one of the WORST things you can do, because it just proves to your parents that you really WEREN’T mature/responsible enough to do it because you went behind their backs, lied to them, and did something they told you not to. You are basically owned by your parents until you are 18, according to the law, so if they say no, that means no. By doing it yourself or having a substandard shop do it, you’re proving that you don’t respect the art, you don’t respect yourself, and you don’t care enough to do it the right way. You’ll REALLY never convince them later on if you do it yourself.

In the end, education is key. Education is magical, it shows you know what you’re doing, what your motivation is, that you’re ready to do this because you understand the risks and possible dangers behind it. It shows your love for it, that you’re willing to spend time and energy researching and learning about it before you do it. It shows that you respect your body and this art form and your parents by asking their permission, providing an educated and informed counter-argument, and are willing to work for what you want.

If you’re not willing to do what it takes to get a proper piercing or tattoo, then you don’t really want it badly enough. And frankly, you don’t deserve it if you’re not willing to work for it, or wait for it.

Keeping up with the modified Jones’

As many of us have noticed now, body modification has seen a huge boom in popularity over the last few years. It’s become so trendy that it’s hard to find anyone without some form of piercing or tattoo. Everyone from teenagers trying to rebel, to adults finally allowing themselves to indulge have tattoos. Everyone from soccer moms with microdermals to conservative Christian worshipers sporting several ear piercings, it’s nearly impossible to find someone who is NOT pierced or tattooed anymore.

I have mixed feelings about this new trendy surge in modification. On the good side, I’m glad to see others enjoying something I’ve always enjoyed, it makes conversations easier when other people can relate to what you’re talking about. By bringing this to a more public eye, we can better regulate health and safety laws since more people are paying attention to it and getting it done. The jewelry choices for various piercings have expanded exponentially, with materials so good they rival medical implants.

On the bad side, people are taking these potentially dangerous modifications flippantly, meaning they’re just wantonly going out and stabbing themselves with safety pins or allowing kitchen sink scratcher to tattoo them, just so they can feel trendy. They don’t fully understand the implications of what they’re doing to themselves and they could end up doing much more harm than good.

Another bad result is that more scratcher are coming out of the woodwork, thinking they can easily make lots of money by doing crappy tattoos. In my neighborhood mall, there was a very mediocre body jewelry store. They had a piercer on call that was just as mediocre, and last I knew they were looking for a tattooist as well. These people probably aren’t the “professionals” they claim to be. They might not be the worst artists out there, but not the best either. Stay away from getting pierced or tattooed in the mall. And by mall, I mean this store was next to the JCPenny, across the hall from the Sanrio store, the store next to them was the ultimate club wear store, and the floor below opened up in a gigantic kid’s play area.

Now, I have seen amazing artists located in strip malls. I think this is a bit different. There’s only so much that can be said for location, and the idea of strip malls is that each building is just a building, it’s up to whoever buys or rents the individual space to do what they want with it. Being in a strip mall and working in the mall are two different things.

I asked several friends a few questions about how they feel about this issue. Here are their answers, and I’d love for everyone to answer the questions for themselves in the comments. Let me know how you all feel about this.

Cheryl, 20, Canada:
~Why do you think it’s so popular right now? What’s made it trendy? I think that it’s so popular right now because people always try to push the envelope with how they look. It started out with navel piercings on pop stars, then nose piercings, then tongue piercings, then tattoos on pop stars, it’s so commonplace now that if you only have earlobe piercings you are in the minority. Celebrities, and as much as I hate to say it, the whole myspace scene fad have really made body mods a trendy thing to have.

~Do you think it’s a passing trend, or will it stick around for a while? I think that it will stick around for a while. Young teens see older teens and young adults with piercings, they look up to them, realize that it’s possible to adorn your body that way and go ahead. It’s not going anywhere.

~How do you feel about it becoming so popular? I don’t really care that it’s becoming popular as long as people realize that getting modded is not something to be taken lightly. Do your research, don’t settle for a crappy shop because you really want something done. Do not rely on what your piercer says and ONLY what your piercer says. I think it’s the careless people that act like piercings can be done anywhere and they are no big deal is which makes me upset that it’s so popular. Aside from them though, I love that the modded community is growing!

~If it weren’t so popular, would you still have done all the things you have? Yes. I found things that I liked through bme around 6 years ago, looked at multiple pictures, read stories, found out what would look good on my face. It wasn’t as mainstream as it is now, but it was starting to become rather popular at that point.

~What’s good about it being popular? What’s bad? It’s good and bad. Good because they are becoming more accepted in the world, especially in the workplace. Bad because people are often misinformed about proper procedures and care so they go about obtaining mods the wrong way. And in the age of social media where people are posting videos and pictures of their homedone mods, it lets broke teenagers think that it’s as easy as running a safety pin through the flame of a lighter and stabbing away.

~Do you feel it’s taken away some of the impact, some of the “uniqueness” about being modified? Nope. Everyone wears things differently. Two people walk into the room wearing the same shirt, but they both wear it differently, same thing goes for body mods. I don’t care if my best friend has a piercing I want, if I want it I’ll be getting it regardless of who around me as it.

Caitlin, 23, from Canada:
~Why do you think it’s so popular right now? What’s made it trendy? It’s a couple things I think that have made it so popular as of late. The “scene” and “hardcore” kids, I think, made it more of a popular thing. As soon as that “movement” came about in my area, I found more and more people sporting different piercings. Mind you… they weren’t pleasant to look at a good deal of the time, but still, it erupted.

The Music industry definitely brought it about more. People look up to their idols, so they will eventually start to think “Hey, I like that piercing, I think I should get it done as well!”. Of course, Younger kids are more influenced by what they see; unfortunately they’ll do all this to themselves and either grow out of it later on or regret the actions they took.

~Do you think it’s a passing trend, or will it stick around for a while? Being as public as it is, it will be a trend for a LONG while, I think. It’s slowly becoming accepted into some workplaces/industries, but I do think it will end up (not in the near future, but a couple years down the road) to slowly fade off and become a very subtle thing, or “underground” as some people like to refer to it as.

~How do you feel about it becoming so popular? I’m okay with it, honestly. It’s allowing my parents and the public to grow used to it in some sort of way, which helps me in the long run. My parents, personally, wont be AS harsh on it considering my older siblings have piercings and tattoo’s themselves (not to well done though). At least with it being in the public eye, I can try and educate my parents on everything, and prove to them I know what I’m doing and that I’ll get REAL art pieces done rather than Tribal splotches.

~If it weren’t so popular, would you still have done all the things you have? If I had never learned about any of it (the wrong way) in highschool, I don’t think I’d have as many piercings as I do this day. I would probably only have my two earlobe piercings. I probably would never have even THOUGHT of stretching my ears, let alone getting my lip or septum pierced.

~What’s good about it being popular? What’s bad? Good: acceptance to a certain degree among workplaces and adults/parents. Bad: People doing it the wrong way, or not doing it safely.

~Do you feel it’s taken away some of the impact, some of the “uniqueness” about being modified? It really has. No piercing is unique anymore, and everyone has a flash tribal dragon on their ankles and shoulder-blades. Other people are ripping off others legit Art pieces, which they’ve then gotten tattooed on themselves.

Everyone wants to have the right to say “I HAVE A TATTOO BITCHES” … and just do it for the sake of doing it.

Hannah, 21, US:
~Why do you think it’s so popular right now? What’s made it trendy? I think people are becoming more open-minded about self expression, especially in fashion and style. Also, the generation that looks down on modifications is aging, and will eventually die out, and the newer generations that are more open will have a stronger influence on future generations. However, some people in the younger crowd seem to get modified to either piss someone (namely, parents) off, or to try to be different, and as soon as one popular kid gets something, the ball starts rolling.

~Do you think it’s a passing trend, or will it stick around for a while? I think it will eventually pass as a trend, but I have a feeling it’ll be around for a while. As for serious modders, it will always be around.

~How do you feel about it becoming so popular? Part of me is happy that it’s so popular because I don’t get nearly the amount of flack that I would have a few years ago. I am able to wear my septum piercing down at my daycare job without parents looking at me in disgust, and the children are curious and open to my mods. On the other hand, I don’t like being lumped with those who give modification a bad name.

~If it weren’t so popular, would you still have done all the things you have? I absolutely would still have all of my mods. I am fascinated by it, and I have a feeling I’ll be one of those old ladies with neon hair, tattooed and pierced all over.

~What’s good about it being popular? What’s bad? More acceptance. More idiots who do it badly.

~Do you feel it’s taken away some of the impact, some of the “uniqueness” about being modified? There is no such thing as being completely unique in this day and age. Trends are recycling. I don’t do any modification for the sole purpose of being “unique.” I do what I do because it makes me happy.

Jenifer, age 21, US:
~Why do you think it’s so popular right now? What’s made it trendy?
People in general, including employers and corporations, have become more open to the idea of people having body mods. they have become more open to the idea that not everyone who has body mods is a bad person. For example, I’m a very open minded person and very outgoing, and even though i’m covered in tattoos and piercings, my employer doesn’t judge me because of my body mods. In general society, people are using it as a way to make themselves more unique.

~Do you think it’s a passing trend, or will it stick around for a while? I personally think that it will stick around, like I said before, employers and corporations are more accepting of body mods then they were say 10 to 20 years ago. People are becoming less judgmental about body mods in general and it’s slowly starting to become a bigger trend once as people do their research.

~How do you feel about it becoming so popular? I’m truthfully okay with it. At first I was a total newbie when it came to piercings and tattoos, and after a while of research and asking lots of questions, I’ve become more knowledgeable about everything and i feel the need to share said knowledge with the up and coming body modders.

~If it weren’t so popular, would you still have done all the things you have? I personally didn’t know how popular it was when I first started getting into piercings and tattoos, but over the years, I have seen the trend grow, and I never regret anything that I got done over the past years.

~What’s good about it being popular? What’s bad? the more popular it gets, the more people become more accepting of it. the bad thing about it is that people sometimes don’t do their research on body mods and they end up making bad decisions that end up with very bad results.

~Do you feel it’s taken away some of the impact, some of the “uniqueness” about being modified? I personally don’t, my tattoos are all custom. they all hold meaning and they are unique in their own way. Even though my piercings are more common among the body mod community, they still make me unique in my own way. No matter how many people have piercings or tattoos, they are still unique in their own ways.

Flynn, 24, Australia:
I can only assume that it’s the overall mainstreaming of alternative culture that has really brought body mods into the limelight. I’m not sure what they underlying cause of that mainstreaming is, though. Goths and punks growing up, and becoming more mainstream themselves, blurring the boundaries? The internet?

~Do you think it’s a passing trend, or will it stick around for a while? I hope it sticks around, but only if that means awareness of it builds. ;p I don’t have a clue if it will or won’t though.

~How do you feel about it becoming so popular? Pretty good; it makes it more acceptable, and it makes it more appreciated. It removes some of the stigma — someone who may have before gone “eeew, tattoo, that’s gross, and that person must be a drug dealer!” can now appreciate the art rather than automatically recoiling. For example.

~If it weren’t so popular, would you still have done all the things you have? Probably not, because I probably wouldn’t have known where to start to get the info I needed. For instance, I always loved the look of oral piercings in high school, but thought they were unsafe and unhygienic… until a friend directed me to the info I needed. Then I got better at using the internet, and the internet got bigger, and I got far more informed. ;p

~What’s good about it being popular? What’s bad? Good: being modified is more acceptable, there are more pretty modified people around. Bad: more kids doing fucking stupid things to their bodies because they don’t appreciate the gravity of a modification.

~Do you feel it’s taken away some of the impact, some of the “uniqueness” about being modified? I’m sure it has, but this is not something that bothers me. I like seeing good, healthy modifications of any sort on other people, the more the merrier, and I myself don’t feel the need to be special or unique through modification.

Kayleigh-Ann, 25, UK:
~Why do you think it’s so popular right now? What’s made it trendy? Personally I think it’s down to show like LA Ink, Miami Ink and London Ink. more singers/bands are showing off their tattoos and piercings and it’s making it “cool” to get them.

~Do you think it’s a passing trend, or will it stick around for a while? I hope it will stick around, because as it’s becoming more popular to get tattoos and piercings it means that work places are having to become more tolerant and they can’t just NOT hire people who are modified in an obvious way.

~How do you feel about it becoming so popular? I think it’s pretty awesome that finally society is moving fully into the 21st century with regards to body modification – people have no choice but to become more tolerant. The only downside is all the scene kids doing it simply because it’s cool.

~If it weren’t so popular, would you still have done all the things you have? Hell yes! My mods are part of who I am! I define my modifications, not the other way around.

~What’s good about it being popular? What’s bad? Well as good as it is that it’s not as taboo to get tattooed and pierced, the down side is there are a lot of people cashing in on the trend and are setting up as “artists” when in fact they are just ink slingers and very bad piercers with no training and bad hygiene standards. The other side is that teens are piercing and tattooing themselves to save money – because to get a decent tattoo or a well done piercing is not cheap.

~Do you feel it’s taken away some of the impact, some of the “uniqueness” about being modified? Yes and no. yes because now it’s becoming the norm to see people who are modified and no because there’s always a few who will go that step further and still shock with their modifications; which is pretty damned awesome.

Home again, home again, jig-a-ti-jig

Back from my vacation. I’ll have a new post up in the next day or two. Have a LOT of unpacking to do, spent 15 hours driving home last night and I need a day or so to recover.