Tag Archives: body piercing

Body Adornment or Modification

body adoarnment, body modification, piercing, tattoos, body ornaments, fetish,

This image shows to types of body decoration, neither permanent: jewelery and mehndi. Creative Commons: Henna Designs

I’ve had some interesting comments on the post about genital bleaching. Some people defend it as just another way of decorating ourselves, such as having tattoos or piercings. This is actually inaccurate. While a tattoo or a piercing is a body modification, it is also body adornment or decoration. True, there are some piercings that veer from being only decoration (and used for enhancement of sensations or fetishism–bondage, humiliation, etc.) but for the majority it is about decorating the body in some way.

This is extreme body adornment and modification. Creative Commons Boing Boing

This is extreme body adornment and modification. Creative Commons Boing Boing

It’s true that humanity has been doing this as long as we’ve been building shelters and making things. Stuff…adornments, decorations, artifacts are what define civilizations. It’s an inherent part of our nature. Otherwise we wouldn’t have a vibrant fashion industry, laws and rules throughout the ages regulating clothing and dyes and styles, nor many types of jewellery. So, yes humans have been decorating themselves forever and continue to do so except for those religions that try to suppress human nature.

But a pure body modification is not necessarily adornment. Sometimes it’s a medical necessity, such as a disfigurement that is painful or limiting of a person’s movement. It might be surgery after an illness, disease or accident that requires a modification. Or it might be for decoration. Obviously, piercings modify the body’s structure to some degree. Any piercing you can see is one of decoration, though it can mean more. Those that you can’t see, such as breasts, genitalia or the subcutaneous implants might be body adornment as well. Like I said, some people do these piercings for ritualistic or fetishistic reasons. It may give them a sexual thrill, indicate they are into some form of fetishistic situation such as domination or submission, be a form of emotional catharsis, or be part of a religious practice.

I suppose anal bleaching could be religious. I certainly don’t know all of the spiritual practices out there. However, it seems that unless you’re a porn star where your butthole is displayed on screen that in fact it’s not decoration, so comparing a pierced ear or a tattooed arm to a bleached anus is not the same thing at all. I’d be happy to hear arguments that indicate this falls under decorating the body as opposed to modifying. Yes, both could be seen as forms of beautification and can definitely fall under fetish, or body modification. In this case when one has a nose job, a scar removed, a circumcision, a breast implant, or the genitalia bleached, it is body modification, whether it is for health reasons or vanity. I will still maintain that a person who worries that their labia isn’t pretty enough or their butthole of the right shade, has got their priorities mixed up.

skin bleaching, vanity, body modification, adornment, skin, blemishes

Skin whitening can be done to remove discolorations caused by sun or birthmarks but do you really need it where the sun don’t shine? Creative Commons: Tribune

This sort of worry is what creates a society where anorexia runs rampant, where we’re stuck on any flaw or imperfection as bad because we watch movies or look at magazines where people are lit, done up in make up and airbrushed to godlike proportions. Relationships become harder to maintain because they’re based on superficial forms of attraction. This isn’t about being confident; it’s about lacking confidence so much that you worry about what anyone will think of every aspect of your body.

We’re losing perspective. Personality and being human is what really matters, and going down the road of worrying about the shade of your genitalia, how your pubic hair curls, whether your toenails grow the right thickness and if your neck is long enough is trying to change how we were born. It’s an unending battle and a slippery slope. Michael Jackson is a fine example of someone who couldn’t stop trying to be someone else, to the point of having extreme cosmetic surgery and bleaching his skin so he looked less black. His talent was in his voice and his musical skills. His downfall was in his quest to be someone else.

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Piercing Situations

Somehow yesterday I got thinking about my piercings. When I was sixteen I had my ears pierced. What might have been unusual about this was that my family doctor did it. I doubt anyone would think of going to their GP these days or even that one might consider piercing someone’s ears, but when I had mine done it was only the nasty piercing guns that blasted away some of the flesh on the way through. I went in and my doctor put a bit of freezing on my lobes, then poked a needle through.

I walked around with loops of surgical thread (thick surgical thread) through my ears for weeks. When I finally put earrings in I had these little diamond (quartz/rhinestone really) studs. And then I suffered as the cheap earrings flaked off into my ears and if I didn’t already have it I developed a nickel allergy. My ears puffed up and turned red and crusty. Pretty icky. I eventually bought some silver rings and put those in.

This first piercing experience and the loops of thread reminded me of being in Nepal, seeing the young girls (as early as four) walking around with small pieces of wood keeping their earholes open. Since many people are poor I presumed that they couldn’t yet afford rings for their girl’s ears but pierced ears were so much part of Nepalese culture.

And that’s just it. Poking things into or through our skin, or decorating it has been something we’ve been doing since humanity first grabbed that shiny or bright object and started designing. Other cultures have laced things through their noses and lips and chests and genitalia. North American counter culture picked up the piercing traditions of many tribal and African countries. So no matter how trendy, on the edge, neo-goth, punk, burlesque, tribal we’ve made ourselves here, there was someone else who did it first, probably centuries earlier.

The second time I had one ear pierced, I was not the first, not even in Calgary. I was one of the very few though, especially in Calgary. And that piercing was done with a gun. Ouch. Took a year to heal. Then I went to India where I entertained having my nose pierced, not with the stud through the nostril flesh, but a ring through the septum. I didn’t get that done but when I came back I ended up having my other ear pierced again. So I have two holes, close together on the left ear. The right ear has two holes but the second is right before the upper curve.

About three or four years ago I saw a friend in the States who I hadn’t seen in a while. She had this really cute diamond stud above her lip, like a beauty mark. It looked great on her and on a spur of the moment kind of thing (with a bit of research on studios) I went in and had a Monroe piercing done. Of all the piercings this one was the most irritating and if I had known the nuisance it would be, I probably wouldn’t have had it done. It’s also a bad one for wearing at teeth though I haven’t had that problem yet.

The piercing itself did not hurt but I kept catching the back on my teeth and pulling it through the flesh. It seems I have an especially thin lip and went in for downsizing three times while it healed. Again the piercing didn’t hurt but my gums were so sore for the first week or two, from the stud back (a flat piece) rubbing up and down any time I talked or moved my mouth. Before I finally had the final size (and mine is shorter than most other people’s) I would still catch the stud on my teeth. A very disconcerting feeling.

The other annoyance was that any time you have a piercing right on the front of your face, your fingers get in the way and you can’t see what you’re doing if you have to put in a new piercing. The stud goes through the flesh and the screw is the head/jewel of the piercing and it is incredibly tiny and hard to hold with the wee screw part sticking out. Couple that with trying to get something through the inside of your lip that isn’t made for turning inside out to the mirror and you have frustration city. This might not be a big deal but a lot of talking or kissing seems to unscrew the thing.

The first nine months of having the Monroe it seemed to unscrew itself a lot. And where did it do this? In restaurants in the dark about 90% of the time. Amazingly, I’ve found the head every single time. I carry a spare for the time that I don’t find it. I need a few more though. The worst was when it dropped out in a restaurant at lunch and I couldn’t get the head back on. A half hour later I tried to get a friend to do it but I couldn’t get the stud through the flesh. The hole had already started to close up and I had to go down to the studio three hours later. That hurt like a damn when they had to thread the stud through again, and that was nine months after the piercing.

So yes, it was a pain in the ass. I could go to the flatter nose screw that my friend used in hers, but once I downsize I can’t use the bigger pieces again. I need to decide that before I spend more money. Since I went through all the effort to heal, there was no way I was going to get the thing taken out…not until it starts damaging my teeth. I have friends who have had all sorts of body parts pierced: brows, tongues, lips, septums, bridges, backs, necks, nipples, navels, labia, hoods, scrotum, penis…you name it. I think I’m done. But then I thought that before the Monroe.

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