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: https://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. https://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. https://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.

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