Monday, February 13, 2006

generation x - maybe the x is for eXceptional workers!

Why do the majority of people in older generations so despise body modification? Is it because they want to somehow ‘protect’ us youngens? Or maybe because they have been too long exposed to the cultural stigmas attached to body modification? In any case, negative feelings toward piercings and tattoos DO exist, despite the lack of any real reason for such attitudes. For example, I found an informational article on that gives advice on how to prevent high school students from acquiring tattoos and piercings. Although the article claims to help nurses present information to students “in an objective way,” it is obviously anti-modification in its reference to “scare tactics” to deter students from modifying, and to the “pathological” nature of scarification.

In pondering on this subject this past weekend, I decided to talk to my mom about her feelings on body modification. Similar conversations have taken place in my family before, as I have had 18 piercings and 2 tattoos, but with much less structure and much more yelling. The difference this time was my focus on listening to my mom rather than telling her why she shouldn’t be so angry with me because of my appearance. Not that this single conversation has any direct correlation to the thoughts of all anti-mod adults, but it was still interesting to hear someone try to explain feelings that (I think) have no real justification. The only real reason my mom could come up with for why she hates my mods so much is that she's worried about my safety. So then why the feelings of anger and disgust rather than worry and concern? I am currently forbidden (at 20 years old) to get any more modifications, with the threat of having my college education ripped out from under me. So after the conversation with my mom, I could only attribute her negative feelings to a desire for her daughter to fit cultural norms. I don’t blame her for this, as it was not her fault that she was brought up by a family in which interracial dating was forbidden and non-conformists were seen as ‘freaks.’

My corset piercing! Not exactly a favorite of my parents, but certainly one of mine.

Okay, so enough rambling about my less-than-perfect relationship with my parents. The real issue I’m trying to get at is WHY it is so damn difficult to get a job with visible mods. I’ve heard things like “it scares the older customers” or “it’s not appropriate for the work environment,” both of which I do respect because it is ultimately the company’s decision as to who they are going to hire. On the other hand, however, companies can’t discriminate against a flamboyantly homosexual applicant just because the older customers may be turned off by his/her appearance, or against a black applicant because many of the customers of a certain company have been found to be racist. I realize we don’t live in a perfect world, but after all of this evolution, don’t you think we would have learned to judge people on their abilities rather than their appearances? I just don’t get it.


sarah said...

nor do i. i took out all of my piercints (two nostrils and a bunch of non-trad earrings) because of my former job. because they made me hate them so much (though i had previously loved them). i've found myself giving up my love of modification so that i can fit into the corporate world. i hate it.

Anonymous said...

It's easy to destroy your body. It's far harder to create something beautiful and meaningful and usefull. Quit wasting your time obsessing about how you can uglify your body and go experience life and educate yourselves.

Chip Emrich said...

I'm interested in the anonymous comment, because he/she is basically the absolute opposite side of the spectrum from everything I believe about the right and productive reasons to modify.

I feel like the process of self-modification is one of creation rather than destruction, that it *is* the creation of "something beautiful and meaningful" (and sometimes even useful. A segue into genital mods, transdermal implants, and magnetic implants should go here). I'm not going to bother responding to the "uglify" thing, because my feelings on that matter are probably abundantly obvious.

Finally, I feel like the experience of modification is an amazing and transgressive one just as important as the ones that anonymous would lump under things you should do to "experience life." That's why I want to suspend, actually. It strikes me as a unique experience totally unlike anything else I've ever done. My lust for life is what compels me to mod, honestly.

bonderox said...

Employers do not want to hire someone with piercings or modifications because it reveals the psychological disturbance within the person. True, most people hide their psychological battles, so it is commendable that there is no hiding it in someone who is pierced or modified, however, it is the revealed disturbance that is especially distressing to people not exposed to this type of emotional outlet.

Also, for an employer, it remains unknown what other psychological disturbances may be revealed in the pierced or modified person. It is well documented that a person who exhibits body dismorphia or other body image psychological disturbances also have other related struggles. Furthermore, if the psychological disturbance is not real, but a display for attention or spiritual enlightenment, it still reveals the state of mind and extent of which the person may take without regard to personal safety or permanent disfigurement. It can be then concluded that this same lack of regard will be exhibited in work ethics, or, at the extreme, exhibited in associating with co-workers or customers in the form of violence.

Tanya/Tikay/Tati said...

bonderox, I appreciate your comment, but I think you need to be careful in labeling people as having "psychological disturbances" simply because they are modified. I've looked over the DSM-IV and I can't say I've seen body piercings or tattoos listed as symptoms of psychological distress. We choose to modify because it makes us happy. Freud said that the ability to work and to love are signs that one has sucessfully matured. We love modification. We want to work. The only thing stopping us is people with preconceptions like your own. Now let me guess, you're over the age of 40?