Sunday, December 10, 2006

Me want mods.

Well, it's currently 1:00 am, less than 20 days from my birthday, and I'm hours away from a long winter break. But my mind is, out of necessity, filled with thoughts of my only scheduled exam and the 10-page paper for my medieval literature course that I HOPE to have finished by this Tuesday morning. My alarm is set for 7:00 am...Sunday. Sunday = sleep day for much of my generation. But I won't be doing anything of the sort.
I scope out Modblog one last time before snuggling up with my passed out Boston terrier, and of course I begin to think about my plans for future mods. I notice that a weight has been lifted.
Why are mods so fulfilling? Why do they make me feel like I graduated high school, won the lottery, and fell in love, all in one day? The power of mods...
I need to get a (winter) job, get cash, get modded. ASAP.
But more urgently, I need to get some sleep.

Friday, November 17, 2006

no dope

So I had a weird encounter last night. I was hanging out with some people I had just recently met, and one of the kids happened to be quite interested in my piercings. In an attempt to delicately ask me if I'm "taken seriously" by my professors, he prefaced the question with "So you have to know that looking like that, you're just inviting questions." I politely told him I'm aware that people may be interested in learning more about my mods and why I do it, but I did not get the mods specifically for the attention (he had babbled something about me doing it for the attention during that lovely preface).
I then went on to address the professor issue. I told him about the Body in Human Experience course I had taken my freshman year at Wheaton, and how that furthered my interest in the psychology of body modification. I told him about the independent study course and blog that resulted from my taking that course. Then I told him about how Wheaton sent me to New Zealand to study Maori body art, all expenses paid. He shut up.
We continued to talk, specifically about literature (I'm an Enlish major :o) ) and found that we had the same favorite book. I spit a lil knowledge about some post-modern authors, and he offered an alternate analysis to that favorite book of mine. Around this point in the conversation, I felt a distinct shift. Somewhere along the way the piercings had fallen from my face, one by one, and I became person to him.
It just made me think...I really want to keep my mods around forever, of course because I love them to death, but also because I have a HELLUVA lot of ambition and I know I am going somewhere in life (hopefully becoming a freelance writer eventually). I want to make my mark on the world and have a positive effect on people's lives, and maybe help eradicate the discrimination of modded folk along the way. If I can show one person that modified doesn't equal unintelligent, or delinquent, or rebel, I'll be satisfied. Actually I'll be satisfied regardless, but that'll make me feel good, like I have the power to change someone's perspective on something, perhaps without ever having met them.
Oh and also last night, we couldn't take our eyes off of this documentary on CBS. It was about heroin addicts living on the streets, and basically followed them through various difficulties they encounter daily. About 5 minutes into the program, I realized along with the rest of the kids watching that 3 out of the 5 addicts had septum piercings. I think I began to get looks. This is where stereotypes come from. 3 out of 5. That's the majority...
I may like my ganja but heroin? I'm no dope (hardy har).

So yea google gave me this for "dope." And I thought she was cute.

Monday, October 16, 2006

oh just nail me already.

People are always looking for new and interesting tattoo concepts. Most of these ideas end up inked onto flesh (even those parts where the sun don't shine), but Scott Campbell of Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn offers a service out of his shop that involves tattooing a body part other than the skin. No, I'm not talking about tattooing eyeballs (although this does occur, oddly enough), but the fairly rare practice of tattooing fingernails.
As a kid, I applied temporary nail tattoos almost as often as regular temporarys tats, which makes me wonder why no one has attempted to popularize the concept of tattooing fingernails until now (aside from one guy I found who was DEFINITELY not qualified to be doing such procedures). I'm glad to see that we've come far from the glittery little nail stickers that lasted all of 5 minutes, now being able to retain nail tattoos until the nail grows out.
Judging from the account of this procedure that I found in the September edition of Nylon magazine, it seems that Campbell uses a regular tattoo needle loaded with ink to etch what is often a quite detailed design into the customer's nail. Various themes are often followed, such as a sparrow on one nail with feathers daintily dotting the others.
Although I'm not usually concerned with price issues when acquiring a tattoo (as it is often thought to undermine their significance...I think that this concept is easier to understand if you're a devoted modder), I couldn't help but be curious as to how much a temporary mod acquisition such as this might set me back. I rang up the folks over at Saved Tattoo, and was informed that the cost to adorn only ONE NAIL was a whopping $100. Upon hearing this I tried to hold back a shocked scoff, but failed miserably. I mean...come one. Piercings are also considered temporary, but they can last for years or even an entire lifetime if well cared for. With nail tattoos, their days are numbered.
Aside from the issue of nail tattoos, I think that the quote on Saved Tattoo's homepage is worth noting. "Established worldwide as an effectual remedy for societal dejection; Guaranteed to promote a gleeful countenance amidst the harshest tribulations, further the abolishment of mediocrity from the visual presentation of oneself: Scott Campbell Tattoo, est. 1968, World Traveling Tattoo Artist Extraordinaire; Remarkable!" I absolutely love this quote and the website in general, with its style reminiscent of a 19th century advertisement.
So I don't think I'll be getting my fingernails tattooed anytime soon. I'd like to pretend it's because I'm too cool for school and think that it's a dumb concept, but in actuality I really like the idea and am just a poor college student. Now leave me alone, I have to find some safety pins and a broken pen...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

underage or overly ignorant?

In my last post, I forgot to mention an interesting tidbit that I learned from a tattoo artist I met in Rotorua named Elton. We were hanging out in a trendy café across the street from his shop, Globus Gallery, and he happened to mention that New Zealand law states that persons of any age can acquire tattoos and piercings. A parent must accompany anyone under the age of 16, but in many cases this is no hindrance. Elton has even tattooed children as young as 5! This got us into a conversation about the appropriateness of tattooed minors, and gave me a flashback to a post I wrote for Modblog only a few months ago.
I wasn’t completely convinced that kids as young as 16 were ready for tattoos, but as a result of the highly significant Maori tattoos I had seen while in New Zealand I wondered if perhaps some kids truly were ready. I will forever (probably…) hold on to my belief that if a person is old enough to drive a car and have sex (yes parents, kids these days have sex at about the same time you were starting to eat solid foods…okay maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea…) then they are certainly old enough to get pierced by a professional piercer. Odds are that if they aren’t allowed to, they’ll do it themselves (read: INFECTION). And what’s the worst that can happen? Parents just need to watch their pierced kids to see if there’s any need to remove the piercing, in which case there will be nothing more than a tiny scar to remember it by. But I digress…
So, I was torn. Are kids as young as 16 ready for the lifelong commitment that is a tattoo? I got my answer this morning while reading The Connecticut Post. In today’s edition, there’s a student-written article entitled “Tattoos, Piercings: Controversial as Ever.” Basically, the authors went around to various high schools in the area to interview other students and get some perspective on the issue of tattoos and piercings. What they found is quite revealing, to me at least.
The teens asked their peers 5 questions regarding mild body mods: Would you get a tattoo? How would your parents feel if you got a new tattoo or piercing? Would you support a friend’s decision to get a tattoo or piercing? What kind/amount of tattoos and piercings is appropriate for a young adult? Does “freedom of expression” in the Constitution cover body “art?” and “How would you react to your own child wanting a tattoo or piercing in the future?”
The answers they received were full of misconceptions. Some kids did get it right (if there is such a thing…but at least they weren’t being ignorant), such as one young girl who was quoted in saying that she would get a tattoo in memory of her deceased uncle. Others were obviously not so thoughtful about their answers, and seemed like they were just pulling stereotypes out of a hat. One such answer was that of a boy from Seymour High School. In response to the question about tattoos and piercings among peers, he said “I’d tell them they’d regret it and [that] it’d be a bad mistake.” The same kid is quoted again later in the article, and with an even more ignorant statement than his first. In response to the Constitutional rights issue, the boy said "Sure, because people can 'express themselves' by showing how often they make bad decisions.”
Well it’s obvious that this kid is NOT ready for a tattoo right now, and probably never will be. I’m sure that he would come to love a tattoo if it had special significance to him, but his closed-minded attitude already predisposes him to never even try it. Although some of the other kids interviewed had more neutral opinions on body modification, I still get the feeling that they don’t understand it as anything more than a fad, or something that only rebels and impulsive people get.
“…a tattoo can tell you a lot about someone.” I wonder if this student is referring to tattoos in general (a generalization about tattooed people), or each individual tattoo (a comment on the story a tattoo can tell). I also see the word “regret” used a number of times in response to the various questions. If these kids think of “regret” when they contemplate tattoos and piercings, they are most definitely not ready. Sure, some of us enthusiasts get tattoos that we look back on and think “Wow, I can’t believe I wanted that on my skin,” but I don’t think that true modders understand the concept of mod regret. Mods represent a time in your life, an experience, a person…they tell the story of your life. And regretting life is just plain futile.
I've been contemplating the issue of modding minors for some time now, and this article gave me the unique opportunity to gain some inside perspective on the issue. Mods are an extremely personal choice, which makes generalizations about anything mod-related pretty much invalid. However, one can plainly see from the article that many teens are too immature to handle the concept of permanent mods like tattoos. In many other cultures, kids are taught about the significance that mods can hold, and are therefore prepared to take on the responsibility of choosing and bearing a mod that they will appreciate for the rest of their lives. Perhaps if American kids were more educated on the truly unique concept of body modification, they would make better mod decisions and parents wouldn't have to worry about their child coming home with "SLAYER" scrawled across their chest in ink.

The only time the words "tattoo" and "regret" should be used in the same sentence.

Friday, September 15, 2006

i am not a crook

So I’m finally back in the States, at school, living my normal life, after the most incredible experience I have ever had. My entire journey to New Zealand was filled with amazing food, exceedingly hospitable and chatty people, the most stunning scenery I have ever set eyes upon, and of course some knowledge that I’m sure I couldn’t have acquired elsewhere.
Now the question you may be asking…and the first one my mother asked when I arrived home…did I get any new mods to remember my trip by? Hell fucking yea I did :o) I began considering what kind of permanent souvenir I would get months before the trip, but it was not until I had spent almost a week in New Zealand that I finally knew without a doubt what I wanted. As my tattoo artist, Chriss, and I were cruising among the lush hills and countryside of New Zealand’s North Island, I stared dreamily out the window, trying with all of my might to capture mental images of every spectacular sight we passed. Somewhere along the way, the blur of greens and yellows and blues seemed to clear up for a moment, as we passed a bouquet of my absolute most favorite kind of flower: calla lilies! I shrieked at Chriss to pull over, and he hesitatingly agreed after traveling a short distance more. I got out of the car and ran over to admire the first calla lilies I had ever seen growing in the wild – they were pure white, delicate, with stems that seemed to hold them up upon a pedestal. I knew from that moment what I wanted to represent the absurdly amazing experience that was my trip to New Zealand.
Upon first making plans to travel, I wanted to get a tattoo in the style that I was traveling to research – the Maori moko. Even after finding out that some Maori believe it is cultural appropriation to acquire a moko without some Maori background, I thought a small design with special meaning would be the perfect memento. However, after having many conversations with both contemporary NZ tattoo artist and Maori moko artists, I decided that a moko was definitely not for me. It’s not that I don’t like the style – I saw some of the most intricately beautiful pieces while I was there, and also gained a new appreciation for the use of negative space in tattooing – It was more that I came to have little respect for the way that many Maori conduct themselves. It may not be my place to make such observations, but I’m just recounting my experience – perhaps it was a singular one. In any case, I found the Maori to be quite unlike the friendly, open-minded New Zealanders. While walking down any street in New Zealand, whether it be in a large city like Auckland or a small town by the sea, nearly every person smiles at you or says hello. In contrast, the Maori villages and historical places of interest that I visited held rude, bitter, sarcastic Maori. The Maori men like to maintain their “mana,” which means power and is exemplified by a stone-faced expression. Even after breaking this initial image, those Maori who led us around their villages spoke sarcastically and made obvious jokes behind the tourists’ backs. We were even forced to participate in “the Maori version of the Hokey Pokey,” which was an obvious attempt to humiliate the visitors. I realize that it must be difficult to have people gawking at your normal day life every day, but the tourism business for Maori in New Zealand is booming. For them to hate the tourists is to hate their livelihood.
There were many other examples of disappointing behavior on the part of some Maori, which I will choose not to mention – I don’t want to offend any Maori by suggesting that they are all the same, which I am certainly not attempting to do. I will, however, mention that the opinions regarding cultural appropriation varied greatly depending on a who I spoke with. The Maori who were involved in the business of tattooing tourists and other non-Maori were completely open to the idea, but anyone else was completely opposed to it. I felt as if it was another way to take advantage of the vast amount of tourists who visit NZ each year. Oh, and how does one know whether or not they are of Maori descent, you may ask. Well the NZ government has decided that anyone who is 1/16th Maori is considered to be Maori and therefore has access to various scholarships, health benefits, and other advantages that New Zealanders do not enjoy. Finding out is as simple as handing over NZ300 for a DNA test, and voila! I don’t think I’d be particularly overjoyed to be part of a people who previously practiced cannibalism and genocide anyways…
I feel so bad to be recounting my experience with the Maori in this way, but I can’t deny the events that happened over there! I know you guys crave the truth anywhoo...
I'm struggling to catch up on the week of schoolwork I miss while I was in NZ, so it's been hard for me to get a blog in, but Friday is finally here and I had a few minutes before a enjoy my first night out since leaving the land of the long white cloud...I'll be sure to post again soon - I learned a lot and need to do a lot of research once I get some time! Butttt before I leave you I have a few pictures for show and tell today:
These are, in order: A Maori ceremony that concluded with the Hokey Pokey: Maori Style!.......; A traditional Maori meal, called a Hangi, it was steamed in a hot spring (kinda cool....); An overview of a Maori village, called a Marae; Some traditional Samoan moko tools, made of boar tusk; The gorgeous calla lilies of NZ - I have about a million more pictures of lilies from all over the island :o) ; An apprentice from Moko Ink in Auckland, giving himself a moko to represent his apprenticeship, and to get some practice non-liability style (note the gorgeous moko on his arm).

Saturday, September 02, 2006

land of the long white cloud

Well I've been here in New Zealand for a little over a week now, and it's been...well...breathtaking. The views, the people, the food...have all been spectacular. As for my moko research - not so good. Don't get me wrong, I've done a ton of research including interviewing contemporary New Zealand tattoo artists and visiting a real Maori village, but I've been kind of disappointed with what I've found. I'll explain more when I get back home and find some time to blog it all out of my system. As for now, I'll just tease with a few pictures that only hint at the beauty that I've been surrounded by for the past week and a half.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Sorry that I haven't posted much lately guys, but It's been a busy few weeks! My boyfriend just got back from a life changing experience in China, and I'm about to have my own in about three days! That's right, the time is finally here: I'm leaving for New Zealand on Monday to study Maori ta moko! And to top off my last weekend in the states, I'm about to leave (6:21 am) for the Rites of Passage BBQ in Pittsfield, MA. I'm heading up with two of my best girlfriends, so it should be an amazing (and dirty, no showers) few days! If you live in the CT/MA/NY area, check it out! There will be suspensions going on from today till Sunday.
I'll be posting as soon as I can get an internet connection in NZ, so be on the lookout for my reports back. Have a great few days all, and be jealllous :o)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

on losers.

I’m constantly trying to figure out what it is that makes us modders tick, and an advertisement that I recently saw led to some thinking that might give a clue. The ad was for a popular online dating website called, and involved a caricatured man and woman. The man was caricatured with certain “nerdy” (i.e. large glasses, highwater pants, slicked hair) features accentuated, and the woman was caricatured with certain “attractive” (i.e. tiny waist, blonde flowing hair, blue eyes with eyelashes that were actually batting) features accentuated. The caption read “Lose the Losers. Find a Better Boyfriend”. Upon further study of the ad, I noticed that the woman’s hands were excessively large. That was the part of the ad that really made me think. What if, in our society, large hands on a woman were considered completely grotesque and a potbelly was an attractive feature? Or what if large glasses and slicked hair on a man were a total turn on? The ad would then take on a far different meaning! Instead of seeing a woman who needs to lose her “loser” boyfriend, we would be immediately aware that this ad was geared toward hunky men who need to drop their slim-waisted honeys for some beer-belly beauties.
So what does any of this have to do with body modification? In her book “In the Flesh: The Cultural Politics of Body Modification,” Victoria Pitts writes about the use of body modification to reject the beauty ideals that are more or less forced upon us. I would like to believe that society and culture play no part in my conception of beauty, and that I live by my own opinions regarding physical appearance, but this is just not so. Society instills us at an early age with the belief that our cultural beauty ideals are inherently correct. As a result, no one questions an extremely skinny young girl as to whether she has an eating disorder, but many people are quick to make comments regarding a little lip ring or gauged ears.
I don’t know if standing up for my right to be modified has changed anyone’s view on the subject of beauty standards, but it seems to me that if someone is open-minded enough, they will eventually re-examine their aesthetic preferences once aware of their ignorance. Such an awareness on the global scale might even eradicate the concept of racial discrimination. If there is no “preferred” way to look, we would all really be equal. Finally.
Hell, I bet that even my body mod preferences are culturally influenced. Why am I drawn toward certain piercings, and repelled by others? Would I want a tribal design on my lower back if it wasn’t considered overdone and cliché? I don’t know…this is just another one of my ramblings that I hope will eventually lead to the answers I’m searching for.
Oh yea, PS, yesterday I was linked to by one of my favvvvorite modification blogs, Modified News. You can check out the post here, which includes a link to a blog I wrote for BME’s Modblog last week.

Friday, July 28, 2006

we can make a difference...

I could probably spend hours just writing about the wonders of body modification. I believe that from mods we can achieve a more confident, hopeful, and open-minded state of being, among other things (such as a lifetime of intensely pleasurable s-e-x...).
One particular aspect of modification that I recently began thinking about relates to the plethora of tattoo art galleries popping up around this country and the world. Upon comparing the world of fine art to that of tattoo art, I came to realize how much of an impact the audience really has on tattoo art. There has been obvious progression in terms of tattoo style over the years, and it seems quite natural to assume that the Inked are the ones behind this change. Not to say that the artists have had nothing to do with such evolution, but the sole fact that tattooees have the majority of the say in what an artist ends up creating is enough to convince me that we aren't just passive admirers of the art. We are the art. And as we grow, the world of tattooing grows with us. It's a beautiful thing :o)
It's in this phenomenon that we find the line drawn between fine art and tattoo art. Think about it...the world of fine art is a helluva lot stuffier than us inked folk. We don't waltz around, hands clasped behind backs, lifelessly staring at dead art. We wear our art with confidence and pride, allow it to act as a reminder of times past and present, and hopefully realize the amazing fact that we play an active part in the future of the art form.
I did a lil' post for Modblog today if anyone's interested in checking it out. That is if you haven't checked Modblog yet, as I do every 30 minutes or so hehe. I don't know when it will be up, but yea, it'll get there eventually.
QUICK update on my job search: IT SUCKS BEING MODDED AND TRYING TO GET A JOB! Especially in suburbia sheesh. I've been looking all summer, applying like a mad woman....and I get nothin'. Oh well, at least I still have my trip to New Zealand to look forward to. Ahh...those crazy Maori :o)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

dees ees boulsheet

Ya know, I'm not even heavily modified, and just because I live in a small town, I get looks of disapproval everywhere I go. I went grocery shopping this afternoon, and a friend who I was with informed me that every woman over the 30ish age range gave me a dirty look as I passed by. I don't know about you, but when I go grocery shopping I don't care to judge those around me. I just want some cereal and milk goddamnit. Sans the negative vibes.

Friday, July 14, 2006

metallic magic

A good friend of mine from home is a newcomer to the world of body modification. I can't help but take a little credit, after all I did introduce her to BME's modblog and other favorite sites of mine such as Needled and Modified News. After joining me for some hours-long tattoo and unusual mod viewing sessions, she gave in to curiosity and got a lip piercing. She then began to stretch her ears with some exquisite 6g hand-blown glass earrings. Finally, after experiencing the positive (emotional) effects of her lip piercing for about one month, she decided to go for something a little more unusual. We hopped a train to NYC and eventually found our way (not without a few mishaps) to Pure Body Arts in Brooklyn, NY. Both herself and another friend of mine were there for the same wonderful reason: to acquire a set of clavicle surface piercings from the world-renowned body modification artist, (and apparently the inventor of the punch-and-taper surface piercing method) Brian Decker. We enetered the shop and I was immediately overwhelmed by the pictures of flawless scarifications and complex piercing projects. Although I hadn't originally planned to get any mods on this day, I couldn't fight the warm, slightly anxious feeling I get when I consider getting modified. I needed something :o)
So back to my friend, the newbie. I know that her self-confidence isn't so great, and I've been wondering whether the new piercings would help boost it at all. In addition to this issue, I wondered whether she felt "changed" at all, or saw society in a new light as a result of the new additions to her body. So I decided to find out!

MSOM: Now that you have your clavicles pierced, do you think it was worth the pain, and is it worth the fact that they prevent you from doing some things you used to do?
CF: I absolutely believe that my clavicles were well worth the pain. First of all, the pain wasn’t even that bad. Having my friends in the room to distract me and putting my mind somewhere else definitely helped. The only part that hurt even a little was the punching part, the rest just felt like someone was touching my chest, but I wasn’t sure what exactly he was doing. When it comes to not being able to do some of the things I used to do before, that’s a little different. I guess in some ways it is worth having them still because I really really love the way they look and to be honest, I like the reactions I get from some people. But on the other hand, lately I’ve been wanting to run and I can’t really because they’re still really sore, and sometimes I’m scared they’ll feel like this for a long time. Another thing is having to hide them. I can’t let anyone in my family see it, well at least the older people in my family, especially my parents. They would never approve. So this means I’m going to constantly have to watch what I’m wearing when I’m at home, and make sure they’re covered at all times, this is going to be a seriously difficult task for me.

MSOM: How did you feel the first time someone asked you about your piercings, and how do you feel now when people ask you?
CF: Ok, well the first time someone asked me, it was on the subway ride back to grand central station form Brooklyn which is where I got the piercings done, and honestly, I loved it! The girl was extremely interested in what they were and how they were done. She thought they were cool, and it made me feel even cooler ☺ Now when people ask me it’s a little bit different. I get a wide variation of reactions from people that first see them. “Why the hell did you do that?” “That’s so weird” “what made you do that?” its actually pretty annoying when people react in a negative way, and to be honest.. whenever someone does it, I get so upset with the person for making a comment to me that might hurt my feelings. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely doesn’t hurt my feelings at all, but people don’t ever make negative comments about anything else. I dunno, maybe its better that people are being honest, but I just think a lot of people are really ignorant and way too quick to judge people that have something “freaky”

MSOM: How do you feel in general now that you have the piercings? The same? Different? Better? Worse?
CF: A lot of aspects in my life are different because of my piercings, but I still feel like I am the same person, regardless. Sometimes they make me feel very confident, when I’m around like people my age, people that I know will be sincerely interested in what they are and think its awesome. I’m definitely self conscious when I’m around my family and when I’m at work. Simply because I don’t want to get in trouble. For the most part, I think I feel better with the piercings, they haven’t brought me any serious distress or problems so I’m just gonna love on them til they do!

MSOM: How do you feel about your body in general now that you have the piercings?
CF: Hmm, well I'm not all that happy with my body in general to be honest. I’m not completely unsatisfied, but sometimes I wish it were nicer. But I must say, I love what these clavicles (piercings) do for me and my chest! They look so awesome, they don’t even really look like piercings! I don’t think I’d like them half as much if I got them done with balls rather than disks! Oh, and it draws more attention to my boobs, mm.. I guess that could be a good thing? ;)

MSOM: If you had seen clavicle piercings on a person walking down the street, say 3 years ago, how would you have probably reacted?
CF: Lets think about where I was 3 years ago. Summer before my senior year. Hmm, that was a pretty awesome time in my life, and Im pretty sure I was very open minded then, but not the way I am now! Honestly.. I just saw clavicles for the first time a few months ago probably, and when I first saw that I was just like, wow, that's intense, but at the same time I had already been exposed to things like a corset piercing and a nape, wrist, things of the same nature.. so it wasn’t as bad. But 3 years ago, yea.. they definitely would’ve been weird to me.

MSOM: Do you think that you will acquire more unusual mods in the future? If so, why?
CF: Hmm, unusual? Who knows. Surface piercings are definitely cool, and there are a few others that I would probably consider getting in the future, but as far as other things go, I’m not sure. Scarification, suspension, amputation, things of that manner.. I probably will never get into. I respect the people who choose to do it, its their lives, do whatever you want, but I’m straight with that. I’ll probably get more tattoos though, absolutely! ☺

I wouldn't necessarily say that these piercings completely fixed her confidence issues, but they surely helped. And if nothing else, my friend is learning the difficulties of living as a modified person, and hopefully she will become stronger and less judgemental because of it. People say that body modification is addicting, and I whole-heartedly agree, but I sometimes wonder what exactly makes this so. Is it the attention? The unavoidable life lessons modding teaches? Or is it simply the pleasure of adorning one's body? Whatever the case, I'm glad my friend has entered into a world which makes her think, feel, and act a little differently. A little better even.
P.S. I got my wrist re-pierced with a surface bar :o) More on this new development to come.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

what the hell...

Sometimes I the system trying to send society subliminal messages saying "tattoos are dangerous (AKA bad)"? Some warnings geared toward tattooed individuals don't even make sense. MRI-related warnings aside, take hair dye warnings for example: the side of my Garnier Nutrisse hair dye box holds a warning that reads "IF YOU HAVE A TATTOO the risks of allergic reaction may be increased." Upon reading this warning I was confused as to why having a tattoo would affect one's susceptibility to allergic reactions. After some research, the only explanation I can come up with is that the FDA got confused and started assuming that since some people had developed a hair dye allergy as a result of improper 'henna' tattoos that people with normal tattoos might develop the same allergy. Now I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure that henna tattooing and needled tattooing are VERY DIFFERENT. Not only are the inks used in regular tattoos nothing like the PPD laced ones used in sketchy henna tattoos, but the respective methods of application are a world apart. One is PERMANENT, and the other can become permanent due to the blistering caused by PPD 'henna' tattoos. So the only explanation I can come up with for the warning is that the FDA is afraid we'll get too excited and dye our skin instead of our hair. We may be "freaks" but we're not idiots...

Monday, July 03, 2006

the 'dangers' of being tattooed

As I noted in the most recent post, my mother recently got word that she is cancer-free. This news was made possible by an MRI scan that she underwent last week. While in the waiting room prior to the scan, my mother was sitting next to me and filling out some paperwork. As MRIs produce a magnetic field 10,000 times the strength of the Earth's magnetic field, I had expected that she would be required to remove her earlobe studs before the procedure. However, I was quite confused when she noted with some satisfaction that the paperwork warned tattooed patients that their ink may heat up and cause burns during the scan. "Seeee!" was her only comment, as if this warning meant that I would never be able to have an MRI. But with all of the tattooed people I've seen in my life, it's unlikely that none of them have ever had one. So I decided to do a little research on the subject, and here's what I found...
First off, there have been situations in which a patient with tattoos did experience minor burns as a result of an MRI scan. The good news for us youngens is that this type of reaction is unlikely if you have acquired your tattoo within the last 20 years. The recent developments in tattoo equipment and ink have resulted in a lessened amount of trace metals (namely iron oxide) in the ink. Nowadays, the only real risk of reactions to MRI scans involves cosmetic tattoos such as eyeliner or lipliner, whose inks often contain higher quantities of iron oxide metal.

Tattoo that has been burned as a result of an MRI scan.

All in all, the risk of reaction for us tattooed folk when entering that claustrophoby capsule is quite low. The one thing you will want to remember if you are tattooed and must get an MRI is that your body does not lie to you. If you feel tingling or heat on or around your tattooed areas, inform the technician immediately.
Now you know! :o)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

cancer-free gum

I'm very happy to report that after a long, hard 6 weeks of chemo and radiation therapy, my mother just got word that she is officially cancer-free. Over these past few months, I’ve become closer with her than I have ever been before. I felt that this time would be my golden opportunity to finally convince her that my modifications are merely physical adornments, and should not instill her with the anger and disappointment that they previously have. Alas, no…
I came out of a recent discussion with my mother on the insignificance of body modification as it relates to our relationship with a new realization. I have come to see that she is more resentful of the embarrassment that I have caused her as a result of my mods than she is of the mods themselves. Apparently, some 'friends' of hers recently mentioned my mods to her. Although they merely made casual comments, my mother seems to have taken them as insults or criticisms. Such assumptions make her feel as if she has to "stick up" for me or "explain" for me. I don't even want to know what these supposed defenses might sound like. All I know is that they surely don't portray me in a very positive light. I mean, how can someone who doesn't support or understand my interest in modification accurately "explain" why I do the things I do? And who said I need explaining anyways? It just irks me that, with all of the commendable things I might do in life, people are more concerned with how I look. Just let me be, please. If it bothers you, don’t get modded. It sounds so easy…so what’s the problem? I just wish that my mom would take the time to listen to what I have to say, and be open-minded enough to realize that she truly is in the wrong here. Her arguments against me never go anywhere, and I have finally figured out why. She’s embarrassed of me...sheesh.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Let there be light!

Last week wasn't going all that great for me. Nothing particularly distressing happened, but I think the realization that I STILL have no job was beginning to set in. Rather than letting my friends take me out for a night on the town (or in the case of myself and my friends, a day of hiking among gorgeous scenery) to cheer me up, I decided to acquire yet another mod. After re-piercing my corset, I figured that my raging desire for mods would be quelled for at least a few months. After all, 8 piercings positioned in a quite un-easily accesible area of one's body aren't cake to take care of, nor do they heal quickly (if at all). But I absolutely could not resist getting my septum pierced after coming to find out that a friend of mine had had it pierced without my ever knowing. She kept the ring "flipped up" in her nostrils the majority of the time, only taking it out when she felt like it. An optional piercing?!?!?! I was flooded with envy upon contemplating the utter coolness of it. I had thought about getting my septum done before, but the jewelry I saw most people wearing for it was, in my opinion, hideous. I dont like full CBRs or retainers, but once I saw the tiny dual-balled ring that my friend was wearing, I coulnd't resist.

Flipped down on the train to NYC

I think what attracted me most to the septum piercing is how it reminds me of the cyberpunk notion of human/computer hybrids. I know that flipping my septum ring out into public view does nothing more than slightly alter my appearance, but I feel that it is much like flipping a switch or activating some function on a computer. With one move, I can change my face from sweet and innocent to...well...not so sweet and innocent. The friend I mentioned earler actually told me a funny fact about her septum piercing. According to her, she gets hit on quite a bit while walking around her college campus in New Haven, CT. The majority of...OK, more like ALL of...these offers and comments were unwelcomed, so she began to flip down her normally hidden septum when on campus. Well, it worked! I don't know if this is because many people find septum piercings unattractive, or perhaps because such a piercing does look kinda "hardcore," but she successfuly avoided contact with the male gender for the remainder of the semester. Nice.

Flipped up when picking strawberries @ the local farm

Another pro concering my new metal is that I can easily hide it from my parents! Unless my mother decides to ensure that my nose is being kept clean, I should be able to keep this my little secret for years to come. Woohoo! On that subject, I'll update y'all on my parental situation in saying that I just don't care anymore. A friend shocked some sense into me yesterday when he saw that I had just spent 2 hours straight looking at pictures of tattoos. He basically yelled at me for allowing someone else to interfere with one of the most important elements of my life. Body modification is wonderous in my eyes, so the promise not to acquire any permanent mods (i.e. tattoos, scars) for another two years has pretty much gone down the shitter. I believe that I'm extremely level-headed, and I have already come to terms with the fact that I might not always appreciate my mods as I do now. But the memories. The memories on my skin. They will live on forever, and tell stories to everyone I meet. I'm getting butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it. SO! Enough rambling on my part. I apologize for my summer slacking, but I promise to be posting more often beginning next week when my boyfriend crosses the sea to China for 7 weeks. Ciao!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sad saddy sad

I have mentioned Pure Body Arts a number of times here on modifiedstateofmind, mostly referring to scarification and piercing artist Brian Decker. Another member of the Pure family, Joy Rumore, has recently had some shittiness in her life when both her home and car were burglarized. I can't imagine how much of a shock this must have been for Joy, especially because all of her tattooing equipment was stolen. If you would like to help contribute to a fund set up to help Joy pick up the pieces, click the Milkmaid button above. Thanks all!

Monday, June 12, 2006

a closed-minded View

I flipped on the television this morning to find the ABC talk show, "The View." If you're not familiar with the show, it's basically 4 middle-aged women who discuss various issues from the news and their own lives. In any case, I was surprised to notice that the women were talking about tattoos. One co-host, Barbara Walters, seemed confused by tattooing, as much of her generation is. She recounted an experience not unlike one that I had with my mother in which she questioned why her daughter didn't remove her jacket on a particularly warm day. It was on this day she came to discover that her daughter had acquired a tattoo on her shoulder. Although confused, Walters didn't seem to have the same negative attitude toward tattooing that both Joy Behar and Star Jones did. Behar boldly claimed that "tattoos are a mistake" because we are constantly changing. Yes, Joy, it is a fact that people change, but not all tattoos are just a "cool design." Many represent meaningful experiences in one's life and will eternally serve as a reminder of such. Also, Behar only referred to her disdain for celebrity tattoos during the discussion. We all know that Angelina Jolie screwed up a bit in the tattooing department, but she screwed up in the marriage department too. Her biggest mistake of all was combining the two into a (semi-) permanent marking on her body. Tattoos aren't the problem here - bad tattoo choices are.
Star Jones, on the other hand, was more concerned with the deterioration of tattoos over time as a result of changes in body shape and size. I don't mean to be offensive, but considering that the only news headlines I have ever read about Star Jones concern her body size, it's fair to say that she would be preoccupied with such things. As for many of the rest of us, the art and the memory are what really matters. Anyway, I don't think America should be taking advice from a group of women who agreed that it's a great idea to "drink a lot before" getting inked. Come on now...

Monday, June 05, 2006


Freaks. What on earth does this term actually refer to? For every culture and set of customs, there are going to be people labeled as "freaks." Such a label is carelessly applied to both the voluntarily and involuntarily different, as the recognition that someone is indeed (according to one's society) freakish is always second nature. As modified individuals, we have learned to cope with the stares and ignorant comments, as have all other freaks in history. We actually have it pretty easy these days: "In the beginning of Rome, Romulus forbid to kill abnormals and disformed children but the introduction of the 12 tables changed all as it stated that any monstrous child should be killed instantly. More generally it was a rule for most abnormal beings to be brutally executed, most often at birth." Sheesh.
In any case, this subject was brought to mind recently after watching a movie on TLC (pop it might learn something interesting) entitled "The Man Whose Arms Exploded." It's about a professional bodybuilder named Gregg Valentino who, as the title might imply, pumped and injected his 27-inch biceps until one of them developed a haematoma and burst. Even people in the weightlifting and bodybuilding communities deem Valentino a freak, but he seems not to mind: "

Saturday, May 27, 2006

every cloud has a *white* lining

During this rough patch with my family, I’ve been trying to deconstruct my interest in body modification. I think that doing so will allow me to explain this interest to my family in a way that will convey 1) my recognition that many of the mods I have and will acquire are PERMANENT 2) that the motivation behind my modifications is unrelated to self-mutilation 3) that my interest lies not only in body modification itself but also in the psychology and sociology of such, and research in these fields has enlightened me personally and academically 4) that although something may seem foreign to them, it does not necessarily make it wrong 5) and finally, that this is MY body, and I am ultimately free to adorn it as desired. I think/hope that a conversation that addresses these points will help to resolve some of the main concerns my folks have with modification. Now to wait for exactly the right moment to bring up this sensitive subject….
As far as my job search goes, I’ve filled out countless applications, handed out neat and concise resumés, and talked to so many possible employers that I feel like I’m working again already! Luckily, I think I finally found a position serving at a well-known Italian restaurant chain, but I haven’t gotten a final word or hours just yet. Still, my summer financial status is looking a lot less bleak after this week’s search. Thanks to everyone who contacted me with advice on being visibly modified and trying to find a job – all of the tips really paid off! For those of my readers on the same frustrating hunt, I’d like to recommend three pieces of advice that I felt were especially beneficial:
1) Bring a typed resumé, even if the company requires you to fill out an additional application. Be sure to include your education, work history, and at least 3 references. If the employer sees that you’ve come prepared and are responsible, you may get an immediate interview or at least look pretty dern sharp.
2) When you’re out and about, even when not actively looking for employment, keep an eye out for modified employees or even managers. If mods are already a non-issue, then you should have no problem getting an interview.
3) Let your personality destroy any negative impressions of you that are based on your mods. If you’re friendlier and more personable than other applicants, you’re more likely to get a job –mods and all!

I’ll leave you with some photos I took at a recent local music show of a tattoo done by an amateur tattoo artist I know. The main reason I wanted to feature his work is that he employs an interesting technique when doing custom pieces. He makes the bright colors in these tats really stand out by outlining the entire design in white ink! I personally love it. If you’re interested in his work, get in touch with me for his contact info.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Inner happiness and Unavoidable discontent

In NYC today I had my first experience with a tattoo convention. And just two days ago I renewed my membership in the corsetry club (see photo at left). It goes without saying that my week has been spectacular. After I received my 8 14 gauge CBR piercings, I was checking them out in the full length mirror that's hung in my piercer's studio. He deciphered my expression upon examining them exactly in asking "Back to normal now?" Indeed :o)
The only problem is that my parents have recently gotten more serious than ever about their dislike for body modification. In a nutshell, if they see any new mods on my body, my college education will be put on hold for quite awhile. I'm 20 years old, absolutely in love with my school, and I have a new set of corset piercings that my parents don't know about. What to do?... I love my family incredibly, but they don't seem to see my body in the same way that I do. I think that I'm beautifying it with every mod, but they interpret my acquisitions as mutilations and desecrations. Even if so, I believe that I should have the right to change my body in any way I desire regardless of the opinions and attitudes of society or my family.
In addition to the frustration with my family, trying to find a job while possessing a facial piercing and stretched lobes is much harder than I had imagined. I thought I'd turn to Shannon Larratt for some advice as to what I should do to make my job search a little less frustrating. Unfortunately, after searching through a number of his past articles, I uncovered only this advice:

"If you are turned down for a job, or fired from a job for piercings or tattoos, the simplest way to remedy the situation is to use your voice. Fighting it in court is generally a losing battle, and will eat up your time and money. On the other hand, telling everyone you know what happened to you, and urging them to not support this business until they remedy the situation is free, ethical, very effective and most importantly sends a clear message.

I realize that I am about to ask you to accept some self imposed hardship, but unless it's utterly necessary, please do not tell them that you're willing to compromise and take out or hide your body modifications. When that happens, it lets them know that they can push us around, and that expressing who we are means less to us than $6.50 an hour.

Although I'd love to contribute to the fight against modder discrimination, I need a! I have almost no cash, and the bills never stop rolling in. My only option may be to remove my visible mods. On the bright side, even this compromise would allow me to retain my nape piercing, industrial piercing, tongue piercing, and even my corset. I sure will miss my vertical labret, though. And the act of removing one of my oldest and favorite mods before I actually want to will be incredibly distressing. Just the thought makes me feel helpless. I'm a good, loving, and intelligent person - am I wrong to think that this is all that matters?
I really don't mean to be ranting on and on here, but I don't know where else to voice my utter frustration. I don't think I'll ever give up on modification, and especially not because other people are telling me that it's not normal or acceptable. However, it makes me so sad to think that both people I love and people I have never met before look down upon me because of my appearance. It almost makes me sick. My friends and I have theorized that by the time we are in our 30s, visible mods will be quite common, and society will adapt accoridingly. If a woman with tattoo sleeves decides to go through medical school, is she really going to be denied a job in a field that is in desperate need of employees simply because of her mods? I certainly hope and think not.
I'm going to continue my search tomorrow for a job that allow employees to be modded, but if my quest fails, I may be forced into a summer of waiting tables in my partially unadorned form. Again, I apologize for the rant, but at least I know that posting it here assures that it well be read with understanding. Thanks for reading :o)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Japan invades!

I have always loved the casual luxury of LeSportsac purses and bags. The company has yet to disappoint me in the variety department, as every style bag they sell comes in a number of funky patterns. The newest prints to grace these nylon canvases come from Italian artist Simone Legno, founder of the Tokidoki brand (fun to say, and it means "sometimes" in Japanese) . Although unavailable online at this time, items from the Spring 2006 collection can be found at LeSportsac retailers worldwide (and on eBay, of course). Although I think that Legno's work is worth mentioning regardless, it pertains to body modification in that her purses from the Summer LeSportsac Tokidoki collection feature the elegantly tattooed Japanese women that are often depicted in her artwork. You can also find her art on t-shirts, iSkins, skateboard decks, and in various advertisements.
I have recently noticed a huge increase in the number of ads, especially in fashion magazines, that use body modification to help promote their products. I'm not the only one who sees this phenomenon occurring, and I'm probably not the only one stumped as to what it means for modification and the way it is perceived by Western society. Does it perhaps foreshadow that fine art tattoos will one day become nothing more than a fashion commonality, like earlobe piercing? Or on the less extreme level, does it mean that even plain-skinned audiences find body modification enticing? I can't be sure, but I applaud designers who incorporate tattoos and piercings into their work regardless simply because I love flaunting the modified bling they create.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Another modified mind!

So, it's finally that time of year again when we emerge from hibernation and gladly adapt to rising temperatures. Unfortunately, for most students, this is also the time of year that is filled with term papers, exams, and innumerable other obstacles that separate us from the golden prospect of *summer vacation.* Due to my hectic school and work schedules, the luxury of blogging as often as I'd like hasn't exactly been at my disposal. I do apologize to any regular readers for this lack of posts , and I'd actually like to take a second to thank you all for reading over these past few months. It's an amazing feeling to have people read something you have written passionately about.

Aside from my excuses, excuses, I do have something quite interesting for you all to check out. I've had a link to The Modified Round Table website for some time now, but only recently accessed and explored it. It is basically a discussion forum for thought-provoking body modification issues. Contributors to the forum are carefully chosen by the site's creator based on a sample response to the current topic. The site includes discussions dating from 2000 to the present, so it is quite up to date. I would go into a description about the kind of topics addressed, but let me instead simply say that if you are at all interested in the aspects of body modification that I often discuss in this blog, you will find yourself glued to the screen upon visiting The Modified Round Table. CHECK IT OUT. Period. The end. Do it.
P.S. I swear I did not steal my blog's name from the Round Table's parent site, I guess modified minds just think alike :o)

Monday, April 24, 2006


I’ve recently mentioned a few of the mods that I’m currently planning out. These include a cutting scarification by Brian Decker and a tattoo by an artist at the NYC Tattoo Convention. In trying to perfect the designs for both, and be sure that I am completely comfortable with them becoming a permanent part of my body, I have come to realize how much the mod-planning process has affected the way in which I view my own life.

Hopefully you'll be eternally happy with your mods, like this guy!

With this realization came a newfound understanding of the claim that body modification aids in identity formation. I have encountered this claim many times in my modification research, and had formerly viewed it as a statement about the use of body modification to associate oneself with a particular subculture and thus achieve a feeling of belonging. I never agreed or identified with this view, as I had always seen modding as an expression of one’s individual identity rather than a way of forming it through identification with a group. However, a new way of interpreting this claim allowed me to see why I have so often come across it.
I now realize that body modification can function as an aid in identity formation simply because it forces one to undergo an unexpected self-analysis. In choosing our mods, we often realize that each choice will either haunt or delight us for the rest of our lives. Making such a highly significant decision may force an individual to step back and take a look at his/her life thus far. This process allows one to determine what events or people have been meaningful enough to deserve a permanent place in one’s life. Choosing our mods not only leads to a look back on the past, but may also trigger a long, hard look at one’s direction in life. We may be compelled to wonder “How will this mod inspire me in the future?,” “How will it portray this particular time in my life?” or even “Where am I going, and am I happy with that path?” These are all questions that have the potential to alter one’s view of his/her life, or even to alter the life itself.
It seems that every day I come to recognize something new and remarkable about the concept of body modification. I now see that although there are many ways in which a person can form and express his/her identity, body modification is an extremely fun (well, for modders at least) way to do so. Planning mods and modding itself can both be catalysts for personal discovery, and certainly have been for me. So if you feel as if you don’t have a full understanding of your own life and identity, start designing your next permanent mod. It just may be the beginning of a new outlook on your inner self.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

On overcoming a dualistic society...

Once again I’m on the prowl, trying to figure out what it is that makes us modders do what we love most. My latest theory involves the complex and intriguing relationship between the body and the mind.
Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly alternating between states of having a body and being a body. In having a body, one is completely aware of the presence of his or her physical body. This state may occur as a result of such daily activities as bathing or examining oneself in a mirror. In being a body, one’s mind seizes control of the lived experience. It is in this state that we tend to dissociate from the body and essentially allow it to run on autopilot.
In undergoing body modifications, the body and mind are reunited in an act that calls for immediate awareness of the physical body. Even after a modification has been performed, there remains physical evidence of a life experience inscribed upon the body. Experiences are typically only imprinted upon one's mind in the form of memories, or captured in the form of photographs. In undergoing body modification, one retains a mental record of a particular event, as well as a physical (and often permanent) record. Although tattoos can fade, memories can spontaneously disappear altogether. An aged and faded tattoo on someone's arm may not appear to be meaningful, or even representative of anything (if it's badly damaged), but it is likely that the wearer is still reminded of its personal significance with every glance. Inspecting one's mods in such a way leads to a spontaneous reunion of the body and the mind.

A woman experiencing a spiritual trance during the Thaipusam Festival.

But what is the advantage of regaining this connection? Since the concept itself is so abstract, there is no factual information I can give as to why an open body/mind relationship is important to one's well-being. I can only give examples of some beneficial body/mind fusions, and note that I personally believe such harmony to be the essence of happiness.
First consider the nature of trances resulting from spiritual journeys or psychoactive drug use. Such occurrences are based around the fusion of the mind and body into what is often an extremely significant life experience. Another advantage of regaining the body/mind connection is the ability to at least partially normalize a distorted body image. Putting one's mind is in tune with one's body may result in a more comfortable bodily experience, and therefore help to lessen body-related anxieties.
The possibility of restoring a body/mind relationship may be just one more reason why many individuals find modding such a pleasurable experience. I’m actually off to stimulate my body/mind connection right now and figure out the placement for my new cutting! Hope the weather is as gorgeous where you are as it is here :o)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Meaningless? Ha. Just the opposite.

“You look like cotton candy.” “Your hair reminds me of a Fruit-by-the-Foot.” “So, did you do this for Easter?”
Why am I being compared to so many foods?! I guess that I should have realized I would receive such comments in coloring my hair with shades of fluorescent pink and purple. Unfortunately, I did not anticipate such responses, and after the first few days of compliments and, err…remarks about my hair, I began to become annoyed. I’m sure that any of my readers with facial modifications or other readily visible body projects have shared in this very feeling.
Prior to dyeing my hair, I had never considered this process a form of body modification. However, I still do not deem the dyeing of hair to a relatively natural color to be body modification. So, then, what is considered a body modification? How can we distinguish between corporeal alterations and true body modifications?
Honestly, I have tried and tried, but I cannot come up with one catchall definition of body modification. Although I am compelled to try and create a definition that relates only to the forms of body modification in which I am interested (i.e. piercing, tattooing, scarification, suspension, amputation, etc.), I have come to realize through my recent unexpected experience with body modification that there are so many more ways in which modification can be achieved. Still, there is a huge grey area present when one attempts to pin down the slippery definition of body modification. Many, but not all mods, are artistic expressions. Even more are in conflict with western bodily norms. And, for those of us who are a bit ‘freaky’ on the inside, mods allow us to express our inner self through altering our external appearance. All of these statements are true for some modifications, but certainly not for all.
So what is one to do when the meaning of the most pleasurable aspect of his/her life is ambiguous? Create your own meaning. That is the beauty of body modification. It holds different meanings and comes in different forms for every person whose life it has affected. Even more beautiful is that, as I have found, there are enough body modification processes in existence to last a lifetime of modding. So, whatever your personal modification pursuits may be, and for whatever reasons you may pursue them, they are yours. As long as they make YOU happy, who cares if there isn’t a bodybuilding gallery on BMEzine (ahem…feel free to send me any such pictures…).

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Radical duuuuude...

I realized today that I haven't been posting about any kinds of extreme body modification recently. I think that needs to change. Sure, I love checking out information on mods of all kinds, but the more radical ones are always a treat.

On that note, I think that you should check out this article in an online guide to London's Camden section. It gives a wonderfully unbiased view of a day in the life of two heavily modified chicks from the UK. In addition to being insightful and clearly written, this article features a few awe-inspiring photos of the girls, who are clearly comfortable in their uniquely adorned bodies. It's definitely worth a look.

AJ, pictured at left, is one of the modders from the story. She told camdenguide that her mods reflect her "philosophy of life," which includes being "really into robots and androids, almost into believing I am one." Although she does not specifically identify herself with the 'cyberpunk' subculture, AJ's explanations of the meaning behind and reasons for her mods are very similar to those of self-proclaimed cyberpunks. AJ has thus inspired me to finally finish the chapter on cyberpunks in Victoria Pitts' book "In the Flesh: The Cultural Politics of Body Modification" (which, in my opinion, is one of the best books out right now on modification). I definitely don't encounter nearly as much information about this intriguing subculture as I do about more mainstream groups of modders, so I hope to explore it further in an upcoming post. I'm definitely excited to see if Pitts will once again bring to my attention aspects of body modification that I had never before been aware of. She hasn't disappointed me yet :o)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

On being in control...

“To decide, to be at the level of choice, is to take responsibility for your life and to be in control of your life.”
Abbie M. Dale

We all want to feel in control of our lives. However, we can never really be in full control of everything that occurs. We may have freedom of choice at times, but more often than not we are mere pawns in the game of life. With this in mind, I have been pondering over the past few weeks whether body modification is inextricably tied to a desire for, and an attempt to attain, a sense of control in life.
I have recently been exploring “In the Flesh: The Cultural Politics of Body Modification” by Victoria Pitts, and in her chapter dedicated to female body modifiers she makes reference to a phrase that I have frequently encountered in learning about the many reasons for body modification: “reclaiming the body.” There are a variety of different reasons for which the body may need reclamation, but Pitts specifically addresses reclamation in response to the abuse or marginalization of women. In reconsidering the idea of reclamation as it relates to that ever-coveted sense of control, I realized that as opposed to many other justifications for modding (aesthetic appeal, desire to feel connected to one’s ancestry, or identification with a particular subculture, just to name a few), the women Pitts interviewed cited a conscious effort to actively accomplish something through their modding pursuits.
In essence, the womens’ mods are vehicles for experiencing some form of immediately accessible control over a particular aspect of life: the body. It will ALWAYS be present, for as long as we live. As a result, we will ALWAYS have the option of altering our bodies in an expression of individual power. So when these women speak of ‘reclaiming’ their bodies, they are really referring to their seizure of power from those who previously held power over them. And due to the nature of their reclamations, these women are able to attain a new daily experience of life that is intended to usher them out of a period of abuse and into one of happiness.
Another issue that Pitts briefly addresses in “In the Flesh” is the use of body modification to combat such body image disorders as anorexia and bulimia. Persons afflicted with such disorders are often preoccupied with efforts to take control over their physical appearance. Unfortunately, our culture has been conditioned to utilize a variety of physical signifiers for analysis of a person’s personality. For example, persons donning a “fat suit” for the purpose of a social experiment often report a significant change in their interactions with others.
Many of those persons with body image disorders, myself included, have become fed up with our irrational efforts to conform to seemingly inherent cultural beauty ideals. I am merely theorizing here, but I wonder if perhaps my modifications reflect a desire to rebel against western beauty ideals and instead assume the authority to alter my body in ways that I believe contribute to a complete sense of my self. Perhaps modification provides us with an alternative to taking control of our bodies in ways that force us to conform to someone else’s standards, and instead allows us to take control in ways that make us unique.
The last issue that I want to address here relates to an article by the ever-insightful Shannon Larratt. The article focuses on heavily modified individuals who are “legally changing their ‘real’ names to match the identity they've created for themselves.” I was intrigued by the apparent correlation between extreme modification and a desire to change something (other than the body) that has been with an individual since birth. As with the women that Pitts interviewed, these persons have voluntarily reworked their everyday experience of life. In being an active participant in momentous life changes, one can achieve at least a temporary power trip that may help to satisfy what I believe is a natural human desire for control.
On a side note, I want to apologize for the lack of posts over the past week, but I’ve been completely stressed out recently. Luckily, things are starting to even out now. Oh, and my trip to New Zealand has been officially confirmed! Even though it is still a long four months away, I am incredibly excited. So, now that things are back to normal, expect regular posting to resume :o)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A little update

The lovely Rebekah at recently did a review of my blog that you can view here. I'm so honored to have been recognized by one of my daily reads! Also, I'm happy to report that my trip to New Zealand to study the Maori art of ta moko has been confirmed and I'm making reservations this weekend! It promises to be an incredible experience, and will definitely give me tons to blog about. The final tidbit I want to report is that I have recently gotten in contact with Blair of Toronto's Passage Tattoo and Piercing, and we have made arrangements for him to perform a cutting on me during his guest appearance at Pure Body Arts this May. I'm currently working on finding the perfect design, a process which has served to substantially enhance my anticipation of the procedure. I plan to grace my ribs with a few calla lilies, so if anyone happens to find a nice design feel free to send me the link!

Oh yea...and I dyed my hair...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I am quite unhappy to report that my most recent (and ironically titled) post on the CoBM was a result of poor research. I discovered the CoBM site and was so excited to see that such an institution even existed, that I didn't bother to check up on it's legitimacy. As it turns out, the CoBM was a scam devised by Steve Haworth in 2000 to prevent employers from dismissing their modified employees on the grounds of inappropriate attire. Although the FAQ section of the CoBM's website is quite thoroughly constructed to accord with the beliefs of true spiritually motivated modifiers, I really should have realized that the organization was a fraud upon seeing that some of the FAQs directly addressed the legal adavntages of becoming a church member. Despite claims by the church, Shannon Larratt (a former member) describes in his BME Encyclopedia entry on the CoBM that their "core legal premise (that it can protect the rights of the pierced/modified)" has never even been tested in courts.
Although the CoBM did respond to Shannon's revealing Encyclopedia entry, it was in the same inarticulate fashion that I had become accustomed to in exploring their church "doctrine." The response is filled with excuses and apologies, yet the author seems to feel offended that his church has been so negatively portrayed. If there is something to apologize for at all, the CoBM should quietly take responsibility and stop trying to cover up their past mistakes. It is quite sad that what many believed to be a revolutionary organization based around the spiritual power of body modification resulted in the deception and exploitation of its authentically devoted church members. Luckily for them, one doesn't need a church believe in the spirituality of body modification.
I have found that in the world of body modification, it is difficult to know whom to trust. My recent experience with this illegitimate establishment has been just another discouraging encounter. Although I was initially disappointed to discover the truth about the CoBM, there were some positive results of such. It has encouraged me to more thoroughly research the information on which I am posting, and it has also taught me that even in the body modification community is it true that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

P.S. - Thanks to woz for pointing out my error :o)

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Church of Body Modification. No, really.

With all of the research that I do on body modification, I always happen to find the most fascinating information when I’m looking for something else. While exploring the role of medical professionals in many modern extreme modification procedures, just such an inadvertent discovery occurred. I happened upon a website entitled “Church of Body Modification,” and clicked the link, thinking what a clever name this was for a tattoo and piercing shop. I was utterly shocked to see that the website was not filled with the customary artist galleries and contact info, but instead with links to a doctrine and a thorough FAQ section for a federally recognized church. My first thoughts in realizing what I had just stumbled upon included wondering why I had never heard of this church before! I was aware that there are, and have been historically, many religions which incorporate various forms of body modification into their worship practices, but the existence of a church that is based around the spirituality of body modification is a new and truly extraordinary concept to me.

The symbol that represents Mind, Body, and Soul and is tattooed on all CoBM reverends.

As I explored the website further, the modification-oriented area of my brain began to tingle. I was quite pleased to see that the site includes a public message board that is host to such post topics as “What do your modifications mean to you?” and “Why do we do this?” both of which I have myself been pondering for quite some time. Two themes that rang common among church members’ answers to these questions were the importance of body modification in the relationship between the mind, body, and soul; and the connection that modification allows between the past (return to one’s heritage, “keep the old ways alive”), the present (“stand together and create a stronger foundation for the future”), and the future (“the petty differences of the past and [present] evolve into a future of understanding”). Both of these topics caught my interest immediately, as I sometimes see the start of my modification pursuits as the turning point in my outlook on life. It is almost as if body modification was, for me, the missing link that now connects all of the broadest aspects of my life (mind, body, soul, past, present, and future).
One view of the church with which I don’t necessarily agree is their goal to gain the acceptance of mainstream society. It is wonderful that they have created an organization with the power to go after any employer that fires a member of the church based solely on his or her modifications. However, the CoBM must realize that mainstream society will never and cannot be expected to understand modification in the context that we (the body modification community) do, for the very reason that they are mainstream society.
As a final note, I’d like to mention one message board poster’s assertion that body modification allows him to feel as if he has control over his life. When one steps back and considers what any religion truly has to offer the people of earth, isn’t it really just a sense of control?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

So tired of being sick...

Unfortunately I've been sick over the past few days and struggling to keep up with my schoolwork. The good news is that I'm working on a post that should be ready by tomorrow afternoon. Until then, check out this article on a new type of sub-dermal implant that functions as a key to your house! It's the ultimate gift for your most forgetful modified friend :o)

Monday, March 27, 2006

This will be my last swastika post, I swear!

Yes, I definitely borrowed this picture from BMEzine, but I couldn't resist posting it! This is such a gorgeous cutting! For more info on what this fellow calls "the gentle swastika," see my posts entitled "Free the Swastika" and "more fun with swastikas..."

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Prescription for piercings?

In undertaking a journey into my own head to discover what it is about body modification that attracts me like a fly to honey, I have come to realize that my affinity toward the bodily arts seems to result from a variety of specific aspects of my personality. For example, as I mentioned in my last post, I want to modify the meaning of modification. I think that this reflects my desire to stand out in life, and also my attraction to positions of leadership. Accepting that these features of my personality were linked to my obsession wasn’t very difficult, but upon continuing the exploration of my mind, I began to become uncomfortable. Sometimes we learn things about ourselves that we never really wanted to know…
In making the transition from inside looking out to outside looking in on myself, my yet undiscovered self, the barrier of denial seemed at first to be insurmountable. I was afraid of finding out over the course of my self-analysis that my passion for modification stems from a psychological disorder or something. In order to overcome this impediment and begin to find out what truly makes me tick, I found that it helped to let my own guard down first. I allowed myself to be vulnerable, and by so doing, came to some unpleasant but necessary conclusions.
One discovery in this process was particularly difficult for me to come to terms with. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I have control issues. I like to have complete control over my own activities, and more importantly over my eating habits and ultimately the shape of my body. I have developed a serious obsession with my body shape over the past 4 years, and a growing interest in body modification over the past 2 years. So is it possible that these two very central aspects of my life are somehow related? I believe that they are, in that they both stem from my need for control in life and over my own body.
Body modification provides the ability to instantly and often permanently alter the body. Perhaps this quality gives modding the same effect as would some express diet that lasts forever and gives ultimate control over the shape of my body. If this is the case, then it is no wonder that body modification has so enraptured me in the past few years of my life that correlate with my eating issues.
To explore this possible correlation between body modification and eating disorders, I did a little internet scouring. In so doing, I found some really interesting theories on body modification in a surprising place. In the “Lifestyles” section of this fetish website, the author takes body modification (mainly piercing) and dissects it to answer such seemingly basic questions as “Who gets pierced?” and “WHY?” Among a plethora of other reasons why people get pierced, the author mentions under the “Self Presentation and Identification” section that body modification can provide “an enormous increase in self-confidence.” Additionally, the author transfers the self-confidence factor to eating disorders, claiming that modification “often creates a feeling of being more ‘at home’ in one’s own body and regarding it as beautiful, whatever public opinion may be.” In response to this theory, I can say that body modification has certainly increased my self-confidence, but not to the point of resolving my body issues. I wish! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to emerge from the psychiatrist with a prescription for piercings?
In any case, I still believe that there are many facets of my life that have contributed to my passion for body modification. I can sense the correlations, but it’s so incredibly hard to determine which aspect of body modification is related to which aspect of each personality trait. Stay tuned as my search for the truth continues. Now get some rest, take 2 piercings, and visit my site in the morning ☺