Sunday, December 09, 2007
As a result of not being used to having so few piercings at one time, I think I definitely pay more attention to the ones I do have. This mindfulness has recently led me to an interesting realization: I consider my mods a form of protection. I know that may sound odd, but hear me out. It's not that I think my mods can literally save me from every dangerous situation I encounter, but I feel as if they make me feel less intimidated by people I might normally be scared to walk by alone at night. It might just be my bod-mod bias at work here, but I think deviant (looking) individuals respect nonconformism in all its forms, including visible mods. Whether this assessment is true or not, I don't know, but I would sure feel better about encountering someone sketchy-looking if my septum ring were down (i.e. visible). As corny as it sounds, I feel like mods scream, "I'm down, I'm tough, Fuck the Man." I've never asked any modded friends if they've experienced this feeling as well, so if you're reading this and can relate, please let me know!
I'm currently praying for BME and Modblog to get back on track after their recent takeover, but in the meantime I'm definitely enjoying reading Shannon's BodyTwo blog posts. Check it out if you haven't yet had the pleasure.
That's all for tonight - I'll be in touch whenever I snatch enough time to write another bloggerini :o)
Monday, September 17, 2007
After answering all those questions and probably more, we finally find ourselves mentally prepared to enter into a world of beauty, exhilaration, and unfortunately stigma. And if we've been honest with ourselves in answering those questions, it will have been a decision that provides a lifetime of aesthetic and spiritual pleasure, no matter what else is lacking in life. I know that my next tattoo goal (I call it a goal because as a college student I don't have the funds to get it just yet!) will involve the concept of ambition. It's not that I have a lack of ambition, but it's a quality that I believe will help me live a successful and contented life, no matter what. When I'm down in the dumps, have failed, been embarrassed, lost hope, I can look to my tat and know that as long as my ambition still stands strong, there will be better days.
But what if you decided to acquire a tattoo that ends up representing a time in your life that you would rather forget? What if every time you caught a glimpse of the design you would cringe knowing that it reflects a negative aspect of your life? I can think of two examples of such inked adornments, one of which involves a friend of a friend. The kid came to my school a plainskin, no visible mods at all. He unfortunately ended up leaving school before the end of his second semester, suffering from severe bouts of depression as a result of a relationship gone sour. I think there were other elements that contributed to his early departure, but the relationship situation seemed to have been the straw that broke the camel's back.
After he left school some friends of mine remained in contact with him, but I had kinda forgotten he existed. That is until one day when he randomly happened to come up in a casual discussion about tattoos. I came to find out that he had acquired about 5 new tats since leaving school, one of which was an inscription of the date he left. I can't recall exactly what the others were, but I believe one was related to the girl he was so grieved to have lost.
I was just shocked. It was beyond me that someone would want to have such negative, depressing images permanently inscribed upon his body. I conveyed this feeling to my friends, and they understandably defended their boy, pointing out that perhaps he was using them as a reminder to "do better next time." Somehow I doubt that this was his reason for, or would be the result of, getting the tats. I just couldn't understand it.
So, back to the question at hand. What is one to do upon growing up, changing, maturing, to find that the design that seemed so perfect only years before has become a disturbing reminder of shitty days past? Well, since the symbol would be inscribed in your skin, there would be 3 options available to you. 1) Accept that the past has past, and move on, transforming the tattoo into a reminder that you have begun to take the right steps in life. 2) Hate the piece, and let it fester on your body and in your mind as a constant reminder that you fucked up. 3) Get that shit removed.
Now, on to the second example of regrettable tats. Imagine living in a relatively dangerous environment, fending for yourself, trying desperately to survive with dignity in a world where no one seems to care about you. For many young people, gangs seem like the perfect alternative to a family that has far more to be concerned about than spending quality time with and properly raising their rebellious teen.
Everyone finds their niche in the teen years, may it be as the prepster, the sports star, or in this case, the badass. But, as I have personally experienced, teen cliques and categories tend to have about as short lifespans as the fashions they temporally coincide with. Unfortunately for gangsters, getting a gang tattoo removed is a helluva lot harder than pawning the varsity jacket you dropped $200 on.
Now, before I go any further, I want to highlight that the stigma attached to tattoos isn't a cut and dry concept. If you're a professional with a small, common tattoo, even if it's visible, you're probably fine. No discrimination there. Maybe some sideways glances from older coworkers, but no penalties. Okay, so let's say you're a professional, but with a screaming skull tattoo on your neck. Extremely visible, slightly offensive design. No you're in iffy territory. Most places probably wouldn't hire you unless you actively addressed and fought for your place at that company. And co-workers? Some might be intrigued, but others would likely shun you. Working in a creative field? Especially if your seniors are relatively young, most any tattoo will fly. Girl with a small, pretty, feminine design? No real social stigma there. Guy with a tribal or a cross? Totally normal. Old war vet or navy man with vintage wrinkly inklies? Totally fine; I mean, they went through a helluva lot more shit in their lives than most people can even fathom, so we let them be even when they make an uproar in Applebees about the potatoes being too heavily seasoned. Yes sir, right away...
My point is, under the right circumstances, a tattoo can be either shocking and deemed totally inappropriate, or the subject of people's interest and admiration. Unfortunately, yet understandably, gang tattoos are in a category all their own. Well, maybe prison tattoos can be counted in the same group, but the association is essentially the same. No one wants to hire, date, or attempt to better an ex-gang member, because to these people, gangster once=gangster for life. When your body is inscribed with the symbol of a violent, immoral, drug slinging clan of youngsters, the choice to get out of that lifestyle makes not a bit of difference to society. They still see the outside, the public body, not the private decision and incredibly mature state of mind it takes to remove oneself from such an all-encompassing lifestyle. One should be elated to have escaped such a life, but with this transformation comes a whole new set of incredibly distressing and frustrating obstacles to overcome.
That's where programs like Clean Slate come in. Along with providing low cost or free gang tattoo removal, such programs offer counseling and job services to ex-gang members looking to start fresh. Numerous similar programs exist throughout the United States, many of which provide the tattoo removal in exchange for a certain number of community service hours - an appropriate form of compensation for individuals looking to turn their lives around. I personally think this concept is awesome, especially because the normal price for tattoo removal can run anywhere from $250-$850 per session, and professional tattoos typically take about 6-10 sessions to be as gone as they're gonna get. Try financing that with no job, and no possibility of getting a job. It's quite the paradoxical predicament.
Some motherfathers think such programs are a waste of our country's money (see the quote in the 5th paragraph from the bottom), but others recognize them as a brilliant way to help those who want to help themselves, and in turn make for safer streets.
Anyway, the next time you're thinking about adorning your body, think more about the implications and underlying associations the design will hold for you than the design itself. The tat you want may look purdy, but so did the Care Bears lunch box you used to tote around. Some things just don't stand the test of time - hopefully my quest to maintain ambition isn't one of them.
Friday, September 07, 2007
Despite my hatred for any kind of classic literature...okay I don't hate it, I'd just rather be writing or reading some psychology...I'm forced to take a Shakespeare class this semester. As it turns out the professor is pretty cool (and pretty hot...she's a 20 something redhead with milky skin and cherry red lips), so I'm not too upset about it - I mean this is the only class that stands between me and my English major so what the hell.
Anyway, the play we're starting out with is Titus Andronicus, which, once I got reacquainted with Billy boy's topsy turvy use of language, is pretty damn interesting. It's a revenge tragedy, which means swords, infidelity, and lots and lots of death. Sweet. To top it off, the professor decided we would benefit from seeing the modern movie version of the play, which was just as gory and dark but, ya know, you can SEE it. Sweeter.
So in the play, the Romans have just defeated the Goths and captured their Queen and her sons. One of the sons is killed immediately when they get to Rome as a sacrifice, and the other two and the Queen are allowed to live as slaves. The Roman emperor, this guy Saturninus, decides he has the hots for the Gothic Queen, Tamora, and basically forces her to marry him. Lalala, all kinds of stuff happens, murder, betrayal, revenge...then comes the rape scene. Tamora's two still-living sons decide they want to have their way with Titus Andronicus' (the warrior who led Rome to victory against the Goths) only daughter, Levinia. So this is where it gets interesting...I swear I'm going somewhere with this...
Goths are supposed to be barbarians. They live in little makeshift tent villages, and the general consensus is that they're crazy and animalistic etc.etc....So no surprise that come time for the rape, we see Tamora's sons disrobe to reveal elaborate blackwork tattoos. Then a few scenes later we see Tamora's naked body, also bedecked with inked designs. Everyone else in the movie is totally pristine, flawless white skin...oh yea except for the Moor, aka the black dude. His face and body are covered with scarification patterns. And he's like the devil in this play - he basically sets up people to betray eachother or even to be killed by one another, then he laughs about it - he's a pretty sinister dude.
Now, I'm not gonna go crying to mommy about this one...I mean, what's the point? Despite the fact that negative stereotypes about tattooed people are known to be outdated, negative portrayals of them in the media apparently die hard. Look at movies - bad guys are the ones with the tattoos, not the hero or the hot chick. Oddly enough, even a character as corrupt and shady as Mama Morton, the prison matron in the musical Chicago, is too righteous to don tattoos.
Now look at advertisements. We all know that 'sex sells,' and these days the sexiest ad bodies are flawless - apart from the ink (real or digital) that sometimes graces their taut, glistening flesh. I can't ever recall having seen a flabby body inscribed with a tat in an advertisement*, so the message is clear - hot bodies are made hotter (or at least more marketable) by tattoos.
Oh, by the way, did you know that each of us sees about 3,000 ads every single day?
So what can we deduce about our culture's attitude toward tattoos from movies and advertisements that feature them? They're obviously the mark of someone deviant, rebellious - basically a badass. But on the other hand, they're a sexy accessory worn by only the hottest of the hot to sell anything from pricey purses to the most covet-worthy jeans. The result? Impressionable teens who are being subconsciously trained to desire body art because it's portrayed as something that's darkly sexy. Eh, not so bad an image compared to the traditional Western conception of tattoos. I guess consumer culture got a little hungry and finally decided to eat up that box of Tat-Os that's been sitting in the cupboard for, oh, only a couple hundred years.
With this recent popularity of mods in the media, it's quite the wonder that body modification is still being banned in some circles. I guess old folks have always been kinda pop-shy. Anything hip and new is worthy of their suspicion, especially if they have the power to try and stop the fad from catching on. 'Cause that might be dangerous...somehow....
Okay kiddies, thanks for reading. Check back soon for a post on gang tattoo removal programs and perhaps some other pertinent schtuff. Gobble up 'dem Tat-Os now, but just be sure you'll wanna be eating them for the rest of your life, even if they're past the cultural expiration date.
*a particularly good article by a witty modified lawyer who also runs the Needled blog, one of a few that inspired me to start my own.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
I've spent the last two days surrounded by the most drugged up and happy-go-lucky crowd I've ever experienced in my life. The Gathering of the Vibes, held this year at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, CT, has been spectacular so far, featuring sets by George Clinton and P-Funk, The Mickey Hart Band, Les Claypool, and Bob Weir and Ratdog. The crowd has been super-chill, as have been the authorities, basically leaving people to their own devices. As I mentioned in the last post, the CT Post sent me to the Vibes foh free, which was really freaking cool. All I had to do was blog for them! What could be more perfect?? Anyways, check out the CT Post Vibes Blog if you're interested, and if not I'll be sure to have some mod-related junk up sooner rather than later. Rock on.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Here's me on my last days with my wrist piercing. This little guy was awesome because I was aware of him pretty much all the time. Seeing metal bolts sticking out of your arm every day has a strange way of spicing up life. I got this piercing a little over a year ago in Brooklyn at Pure Body Arts. It was done with the punch-and-taper surface piercing method, which seems to be the best technique yet for surface piercings. It stayed very well, but in the end too many bumps and knocks, plus the body's tendency to reject or at least disturb any foreign objects, made one post stick out of the skin significantly more than the other. I had one side of the bar sinking into the skin, and the other poking out and getting caught on anything and everything. It was time to say goodbye. This was my second wrist surface piercing, and something tells me it won't be my last.
I don't have a picture of my second late companion, as it used to reside on the back of my neck and would've been quite the challenge to photograph myself. It was a surface piercing just like my wrist, but this one was about a year older. I got it at Enigma piercing studio in San Diego while I was on vacation there about two years ago, and it always reminded me of those blissful 8 days spent soaking in the sun and eating every kind of burger California had to offer. As with most piercings, this one didn't like the winter months too much, and with turtlenecks and scarves came irritation and keloids for my nape piercing. I've injured and healed this piercing numerous times before, but after struggling to soothe it for about 3 months, I decided in July to just go ahead and do what my body was signaling me to.
R.I.P. my friends, you shall be missed.
On a lighter note, I'm happy to report having taken part in the Virgin Music Festival this past weekend in Baltimore, MD. It was a two day event, and hands-down one of the best experiences of my life. Musically, highlights for me were Explosions in the Sky out of Austin, Girl Talk out of Phillie, Smashing Pumpkins out of....ummm who cares, it's the Smashing Pumpkins, and LCD Soundsystem out of NYC. I was so kindly invited to attend by a charming young gentleman named Connor who runs a music blog, I Guess I'm Floating, which I've shouted in the links section since the inception of MSOM. Check it out, maybe you'll discover something better than the mind-numbingly egotistical shit surfing the radio waves these days ("My lipgloss is cool, my lipgloss is poppin'"....need I say more??).
After returning from two sweltering, dusty days of indulging in tunes and greasy food in the 12th most dangerous city in the States, I decided to take a deeper look into Baltimore by scanning some of today's stories in the Baltimore Sun. Oddly enough I came upon one article related to my all-time faaaavorite mod topic >>> modified employees >>> and it got me thinking. I've seen articles that address this issue gracing the (web)pages of countless newspapers from all over the world - so is it possible that mainstream society is finally realizing that a ridiculous amount of people are modified, yet totally sane, intelligent, and happy? Will people perhaps begin pushing for a change in the policies of businesses that refuse to hire modified individuals? Surveys such as the one mentioned in the Sun article prove that there are a whole lotta modified folk out there, but they're still being treated like a misunderstood and stereotyped minority. Modders are just like everyone else...we enjoy food and shelter just as much as any plainskin. Heck, some of us even went to college! Golly gee, who woulda thought?
But seriously, these people need employment, they're eager to work, they're qualified...but as the polls show, having body modifications significantly reduces one's chances of being hired, no matter how impressive your attitude and accomplishments.
I always have the same voices echoing in my head when I start to get all riled up about this issue >>> I see it as discrimination - they see it as a bad choice that nobody forced me at gunpoint to make. But that's just missing the point of tattoos. They're personal - personal expressions, meaningful designs, memorials to lost loved ones - and so many of them are simply stunning pieces of artwork. It seems baby boomers can't shake the outdated perception that modders are all immature, drunk, self-injuring sailor prostitutes - which is odd considering all the evidence to the contrary that's embodied in the gajillion modders who lead relatively normal, successful lives. Sure, it was our choice to become modified, but who says there has to be 'consequences' for doing something so benign? In fields where dealing with high society is a necessary part of the job, I can see employers being more particular about who they'll hire. But does there really need to be a no-mods policy at Costco? People come expecting big savings and 100-packs of toilet paper - not pristine, robotic, plain-jane chicks at the checkout.
Maybe it's just me, but I think that when employers are approached by a customer who's concerned about an employee's mods, they should stand up for their workers and question WHY exactly the customer deems it kosher to pass judgement on someone they've known for the time it takes to brush your teeth.
Well, I'm retirin', but I'll be back in action and blogging again this weekend because the CT Post has been kind enough to hook me up with a 3-day pass to the Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport, CT. I'll be blogging my lil' heart out about the goings on of the festival, and I'll either link to the Post's blog or just copy my entries here so y'all can read and wish you were there, puffin' on...I, I mean LAYING on...the grass and indulging in some delicious tunes.
OH and by the way if you read through this and didn't click even one link I'm officially pissed at you. I don't link my ass off for my own health ya know...
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
So in any case, I was sent on my first interview last week, which happened to be with b-list celeb, John Ratzenberger. He hosts this show on the Travel Channel called John Ratzenberger's Made in America. You also might remember him as Cliff, the mailman from Cheers. Fun fact - he's considered a good luck charm by the dudes at Pixar, and they've had him sign a contract agreeing to be the voice of one character in every Pixar film made.
I was sent to interview Ratzenberger at this charity breakfast where he was the guest of honor/dude who got people to buy tickets to a $50 breakfast. After the breakfast, he was scheduled to march as honorary grand marshal in the parade that brings Bridgeport's famous Barnum Festival to a close.
When I first arrived at the breakfast, everything seemed to be running smoothly. The event coordinator got me in for free, and almost immediately asked if I would like to meet Ratzenberger. Since he was my sole reason for attending this absurdly overpriced and unimpressive breakfast, I said yes and was led to a table at which Ratzenberger, his daughter, his daughter's beau, and a flock of crazy conservative fans sat gabbing. Just as the coordinator guy and I reached the table, someone started announcing that breakfast was served (buffet-style...yah...classy), and I was told to wait until Ratzenberger's book signing to interview him.
So an hour goes by...(during which the event coordinator only offers me COFFEE when there's enough scrambled eggs to nourish all of Ehtiopia).....
Finally the book-signing comes. I make my way toward the coordinator, and ask if now's the time. I'm told that I should wait a little longer...the line for book singings is off the wall...all for a completely lame -looking hardcover. I bet that out of the approximately 50 people waiting in line to get their books signed, 5 would actually read the thing. They totally just wanted to schmooze with the Ratz.
So I wait and wait and wait, meanwhile chatting it up with everyone from cocky (and hefty) strip club owners to corporate nobodies. The don't have much to say. Most don't even watch Ratzenberger's show, or are too distracted by my crayyyyyyyzeeeee piercings to concentrate on my questions. Mother fathers...
Finally the book signing is over, so here's my chance, right? Oh..wait...uht...yup yea I missed him again. This corrdinator dude tells me to wait, so I do, then the next thing I know I'm following Ratzenberger out the door like a little puppy at his heels, struggling to introduce myself amid his half-conversations with fans and communications with the other parade participants.
He basically shoots me down, saying I should have introduced myself earlier, and when I shoot a glance at the coordinator dude he just looks the other way. I choose not to defend myself, except by saying that I tried but he was busy. I guess he wasn't having it. At that point he hopped into a cherry red convertible, which I found out was headed for the parade meeting point. I followed the car to their destination (which was, oddly enough, a funeral home), and continued to stalk my prey.
Finally I cornered him - pouring a cup of coffee, alone, finally a moment of silence and peace for him...but uht, sorry, here comes the press to rain on your parade (no pun intended?). He didn't seem annoyed or anything, but he also didn't seem to take me very seriously. We sat down at one of the plastic-lined picnic tables so I could ask him the 7 or 8 questions I spent an hour developing, but before I could begin he actually started to question ME. I have this all on tape, by the way...
Tan- "So how does it feel to be back in your hometown for the Barnum Festival?"
Ratz- "What's that in your lip?"
"Oh, I have a piercing in my lip, I actually love to do research on body modification..."
"...You got one in your tongue too..."
"Yup, I have one in my tongue, I have one in my wrist..."
"It's an interest of mine, it's been an interest of mine to modify the body for a long time now..."
"Do you not like yourself?"
"No, I love myself very much..."
"You didn't like the way you came out?"
"No, I love myself very much, I just wanted a little ornamentation, like how other people wear rings and watches, this is my way of decorating myself."
At that point he finally allowed me to get on with the interview, but his attitude toward me was clearly condescending. Every question I asked was responded to with a vague, barely informative answer. After trying for hours to even get a word with this guy, I ended up with not one usable quote from the interview. I was forced into simply paraphrasing him in the story, filling in readers on some fun facts about Ratzenberger's childhood in Bridgeport.
As much as I hate to admit it, I know that before I got involved with body modification I was just as ignorant as most white, conservative, closed-minded Amercians (aka my teachers and elders in general). I would stare, not in admiration but in half-disgust, at the goth kids in my high school with their pierced lips or the guy with full sleeves ringing me out at the convenience store. I didn't understand it. I just saw them as different.
In retrospect, this was the same way in which I used to view midgets, the handicapped, and minorities. I know it sounds harsh to say I was going around mentally judging all of these people, but I was young and extremely impressionable. I went to a predominantly white high school and lived in suburban Connecticut. I was exposed to very little cultural diversity, and never traveled out of the country until just last year. But despite having grown up mindlessly believing that what you see (through socially conditioned eyes) is what you get, I would eventually go from gawker to gawkee. Now I'm the one receiving stares and rude comments, but those slight annoyances are a small price to pay for the way my mods make me feel. I don't even notice them anymore, except when I'm inspecting, cleaning, or admiring them. They're just a part of me, and I think that every single one represents my personality and message to the world.
Ratzenberger had me all mixed up. He thought I modified myself because I wasn't proud of my "original" self. He missed the point. I modify to celebrate myself. And not my outer, physical self. That's just the decoration, the icing on the cake. Modification allows me to give my creative, ambitious, colorful inner self a fitting home.
Monday, June 04, 2007
When I first started at the cafe, Spring hadn't yet begun to warm up. I wore hoodies and sweaters over any short-sleeved shirts, concealing the inkwork that graces my left shoulder and right inner arm. As the weeks went by, I began shedding layers of clothing until it finally became warm enough to sport arm-bearing tank tops and dresses. Oh what a change a little ink can make.
We have some sort of Christian book club that meets at the cafe once a week. The ladies who attend are older, and usually quite pleasant. I can tell they're old fashioned because they wouldn't dare sip coffee out of a thermal paper cup - mugs only.
On one of their meeting days, I was sitting at a table re-writing the daily specials on a dry-erase board when one of the ladies approached me. I got the immediate sensation that I was about to be interrogated. I'm donning a wife beater and skull necklace, by the way.
So she begins asking me what I do with my life, where I go to school, what I'm studying there, what I want to do with some silly English/Psychology double major...and then finally drops the C-bomb.
"So, are you a Christian?"
"Oh, um, no actually."
"Well then, what do you worship? The devil? Because that's what your necklace there suggests."
"Oh, ma'am it's just fashion. Skulls are big in fashion right now. Plus I just really like silver jewelry and this was on sale."
"Ah, well it tells me that you're a devil worshipper."
She was overall pretty nice about the whole thing, up until that last comment, but I got the sense that she was sent over to question me after a covert group conversation about my mods. This was the first week the book club had gotten a glimpse of my ink, and I think the colors warped their brains a little.
In any case I continued writing the specials while I eavesdropped on the conversation that ensued after our little interview. The woman didn't mention me, but I did overhear her freaking out because apparently a fellow church member told her that she was "doing well" and then found out she told another woman that her family was in trouble. Book club lady was enraged that this complete stranger (other than their religious affiliation) didn't want to share her personal business. BCL confronted her church friend, receiving what seemed to me a normal response of "Well, I don't know you very well, I was just being polite." Ha! Polite! BCL considered it a lack of trust between church members.
But would you trust a woman with lipstick on her teeth?
Drama drama drama. Let's give up the facade and live our OWN lives, ladies.
So why did this woman take an interest in me? Was it the necklace? The tats? The plugs? The vertical labret? The list goes on....Or could it have been that she genuinely wanted to get to know her local coffeehouse waitress?
I doubt the latter, but if this was the case, I apologize for my assumptions.
If one of the former options be the case, it's no wonder she asked me questions concerning my personal status in the world. Was I educating myself? Do I have direction in life? Do I follow the righteous path?
Well for all y'alls information I am very proud of my life, accomplishments, and morals, and it honestly made me very happy to be able to show her that I'm not some low-life despite my appearance and lack of Christian faith. If she didn't write me off as an exception to the rule, or assume I was lying, perhaps I gave her a reason to MAYBE think twice before judging someone based on their looks.
John 7:24 "You must not judge by the appearance of things but by the reality!"
Thursday, May 10, 2007
In any case, one of the most startling facts I found in my research is that in certain industry categories, the chances of obtaining employment are reduced by 70% or more for individuals with visible tattoos. This shocking figure brought me back to my recent discussion of the Mercedes dealership incident, and also reminded me of an email I received recently.
"So, I was thinking. You recently posted that you'd be taking suggestions for posts, maybe you could talk about how your mods have forced you to overcome professional/career-oriented/scholarly hurdles? Similar to your post about the car dealership craziness.
While I was at work yesterday, the track coach at my school came up and started inquiring about the tattoos on my arms that have recently emerged from their winter hibernation. I haven't engaged in a conversation based around justifying my choice to acquire tattoos in awhile, so I was a little rusty in my explanation at first. But once I got started, I began to remind myself of all the reasons why I decided to get tattoos in the first place, and how they've affected me thus far.
I began telling him about how I love a challenge, and that I see having visible modifications as a challenge to myself and to society. They challenge me because I feel that I can help to promote a positive image of body modification by excelling in everything I do. People don't assume that a girl with piercings all over her face and tattoos all up her arms is capable...of anything really...so I have to give my best effort to every endeavor just to be given notice. It is certainly frustrating sometimes to have to give extra effort just to prove I have the abilities I've worked so hard to acquire, but the potential payoff makes it all worthwhile.
This payoff comes as a result of my challenge to society. I see my mods and my personality as a mix that can break down the misconceptions of certain individuals, but only if they're willing to accept a new perceptual framework. If people begin to realize, one by one, that mods aren't necessarily related to any one type of person, and that modified individuals should be given the same kind of consideration as anyone else, there will eventually be a revolution. I may sound naive when I say this, but I feel that through this dual challenge mods give me the opportunity to change the world.
So there's my little blurb about overcoming obstacles that result from my mods, but I wanted to add something else that might actually help some of my readers out. After losing my status at the temp agency that sent me to the Mercedes dealership from which I was sent home, I needed to find a stable job for the summer. Of course there was the option of taking out my vertical labret and wrist piercing and downsizing my plugs, but like I said, I love a challenge. Besides, I don't feel that I should have to change my looks just to get a job that I'm perfectly qualified for. So mods and all, I went job hunting, and I came up with some tips for fellow modders along the way:
1)Cover or tuck away all unecessary mods. If you have a wrsit piercing like me, wear long sleeves no matter how hot it is. That way you can get a fair chance at proving your abilities before the employer's preconceptions about mods have a chance to play a role.
2)Bring a freshly typed resume to every employer. Even if they have a specific application you must fill out, the resume is a great way to remember the phone numbers of your references and it looks damn responsible of you to be prepared.
3) For gosh sakes, dress nicely. If you insist on keeping some visible mods, well, visible, then you have to compensate by breaking out your snazziest duds. Please keep cleavage (both tit and ass) to yourself, don't wear absurdly high heels, don't wear wacky patterns or colors, and definitely don't opt for a tee shirt and jeans, regardless of the job you're trying to get. I would recommend that girls wear a knee-length skirt (unless you have lower leg tattoos, in which case a pair of black or grey slacks is fine), and a button-down shirt or a blouse. I know this totally sounds like nanny-wear, but you can get creative as long as you look polished. For guys, wear that same button-down shirt you wore to your grandma's funeral, your sister's wedding, and your high school prom. Throw on a pair of khaki or black dress pants with some boots or dress shoes and you're good to go.
4)Try finding employment in the more hip areas of your state. I live in Connecticut, so I automatically chose New Haven as my first choice for job hunting because the target audience of most of its establishments is between 15 and 30 years old. Also, people who own cafes and restaurants in more alternative cities tend to be younger and more accepting of mods, so your chances of being able to get work are much higher there.
5)Be yourself and smile a LOT. Just be friendly, and treat the employer like a friend (don't get too comfy though). If you're relaxed, they will be too, giving them a positive interaction to remember you by.
6)Now for the obvious stuff, like don't lie, don't promise you'll remove your mods before shifts if you don't intend to, and certainly don't be disrespectful if the employer starts to badger you about your mods. Just stay calm, and dig deep so you can tell them exactly why you want to keep your mods. If you know they were a rational decision, prove it by acting rationally and explaining your reasons clearly.
I hope this advice helps some people out. I'm happy to say that it was quite effective in my personal job hunting endeavor, and I'll be starting work at a snazzy cafe right down the street from my house this Monday. Don't get discouraged if you don't get phone calls back right away, and keep the phone numbers of the places you were most interested in so you can call for a follow-up. Just ask if your app. has been considered, and express that you're really interested in working in such a cool place. With a little time and a little luck, even the most heavily modded folk can find the perfect job to fit their lifestyle. And the satisfaction of knowing you didn't cave and conform to the standards of "the man" will be an added bonus. DAMN THE MAN, SAVE THE EMPIRE!...empire records anyone???
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Parents and administration were outraged that the girl would permanently inscribe her body with such a "symbol of hatred," and some students were offended by her ink.
Apparently the school has refused to publicly state the nature of the girl's punishment for her...crime?...but it seems that she has not been suspended. One parent stated his belief that whatever the girl's punishment, it is only a "slap on the wrist" in response to her offence.
This whole situation got me thinking about a story that the media has recently pounced on and ravaged until there's just nothing left to tell. The story to which I am referring revolves around a racial slur made by radio talk-show host, Don Imus. For those of you who've been taking ostrich training courses over the past few days, I'll sum up the situation.
Basically, in the course of discussing the Rutgers University women's basketball team's loss in the NCAA women's championship game, Imus happened to refer to the girls as "nappy-headed hos." Now Imus is faced with a team of tall, angry ladies, and of course the Reverend Al Sharpton.
Although Imus has already been given a punishment of two weeks unpaid suspension from his talk show, Sharpton wants the guy fired. In addition, the basketball team claims that Imus' comment robbed them of their moment in the sun, and plan to meet with him to receive a personal apology.
Okay - so - does anyone else feel like all these people are overreacting? I mean, of all the racial slurs that have been made, was an isolated comment in the context of a humorous talk show really worth so much negative attention? It's not like he referred to the girls' intelligence or athletic ability...he was talking about their HAIR! And calling them "hos"? Ummm have you listened to any recent rap albums? The word "ho" is about as common as the word "holla." And in reference to Imus stealing the girls' moment in the sun...if you didn't notice, they lost the game. So in actuality, Imus GAVE them their moment in the sun! These girls have been all over television and radio stations expressing their deep hurt that resulted from three little words. Would anyone have given the losing team half this much attention if not for Imus' slip-up?
Oh yea, and get this. Imus' suspension from the talk-show doesn' t go into effect until Monday because he's hosting a charity telethon to benefit research on sudden infant death syndrome. He's also done charity work in the past to help find a cure for cancer and sickle-cell anemia. What a jerk.
So, the question I'm asking is, is this guy really as bad as people want us to believe? We all make misjudgements in word choice from time to time - he was just unlucky enough to have his broadcast over the airwaves. And do people REALLY need to keep wasting their time and money in trying to get him fired? At this point the guy has no choice but to kneel to all those who were offended by his remark and sheepishly plead for mercy - or else his 30-year dream job is down the shitter.
This brings me back to the swastika situation in New Jersey. Does this girl really deserve such flack for a personal choice? Yea, ok, I would be putting far too much faith in our country's youth by thinking that maybe, just maybe she's familiar with ManWoman and his message about the Gentle Swastika. I also assume that she isn't aware of all the benevolent meanings the swastika held before it was kidnapped and perverted by Adolf Hitler. But doesn't this girl have a right to put whatever she wants on her body regardless of its implications? As a ninth grader, she's obviously a minor who shouldn't have been able to acquire a tattoo at all, but that hasn't stopped hoards of kids that came before her.
Now, I realize that her ink isn't exactly as harmless as a crappy lower back tribal, but what harm did it REALLY do to her teachers and classmates? They were "offended." Okay, fine, you're offended, but if you can be affected by something as simple as a SYMBOL, without even hearing the girl mention anything about hate or genocide, you might wanna think about keeping your tender little ego in check. In terms of "punishment" for the girl, I think that she should be required to keep it covered while on school grounds. Problem solved! There's no need to actually reprimand her...having a big ol' swastika over her privates is sure to give the girl her fair share of troubles in the years to come.
My point is that our country has turned into one big pity party. Everyone's a crybaby! Why don't you take a trip to Darfur and tell me if anything there offends you.
Okay, I needed to rant all that frustration out. I just want people to get on with their lives and not get hung up on such insignificant things as a comment or a tattoo. Be happy! Get modded or somethin...
Saturday, April 07, 2007
However, under the right circumstances, certain people are excused from some of the rules of life. For example, only a child can stare down a Hell’s Angel on the subway and receive a smile in return. Or consider male wrestlers. They are the only straight guys who can wear spandex and roll around caressing each other without it being considered fruity.
So what about us modders? Despite all of the restrictions on us (tattooing bans, heavy modding laws, job-hunting troubles anyone?), do we still have special privileges in the world to call our own? I’ve been taking notes, and it seems that we certainly do!
1) Only modders can strip in public to show off a hidden tattoo.
2) Only modders can pick their noses in public if their septum piercing needs adjusting.
3) Only modders can tell graphic stories to strangers who ask about their unusual mods or scars and have it not be inappropriate.
4) Only modders can explain their life motto to everyone they come in contact with (without saying a word).
5) Only modders can use Listerine or apply Aquaphor every hour without seeming narcissistic.
6) Only modders can hang their bodies from flesh hooks without being considered insane (well at least by most people).
7) Only modders can turn a wound into something beautiful and meaningful.
See! We’re speeeecial. So next time you feel jealous of the little boy doing backbends in the middle of the mall food court, you can whip out one of your mods, lean over to the nearest table, and proudly inquire “Does this look infected to you?”
Friday, March 16, 2007
So I gave the temp agency a call prior to my Spring break (which I'm still on), and they immediately found me a position at a Mercedes dealership in Fairfield, CT. Nice :o) I didn't really consider the issue of my lip piercing - until I was getting ready for my first day. I never really notice it anymore, and hoped they wouldn't either.
The first of the two days I was scheduled, a Saturday, everything went perfectly. The other employees helped me out when I needed, and I made sure to do everything they asked. I had an awesome time chatting with customers while they waited for their cars to be serviced, and some even wanted to talk about body modification after seeing my wrist piercing peeking out from my sleeve. I got lots of thanks on my way out, and went home expecting to have a comparable experience my second day there. Any anxiety I had had about my piercing was gone, and I smiled to see that effort really can be more important than appearance in the working world.
When Monday came around, I woke up at 5:30 am so I could shower and look Mercedes-worthy by 7. After primping myself up, I drove in traffic to the dealership, and settled in at my desk immediately because people were already waiting to be helped. About 30 minutes into my shift, one of the nice service managers came up and awkwardly addressed my lip piercing. He said that a particular supervisor who hadn't been there my first day of work had a problem with my "presentation." He told me that he was on my side, and had tried to get her to forget about it, but she wanted me to take it out. I informed him that the hole would probably close up if I had it out for my full 10 hour shift, and he left it at that. I thought I was safe....until...
So here I am, keeping things in working order, getting people helped immediately, and generally just keeping a happy atmosphere goin' on in the waiting area. All of a sudden a woman walks through the doors, and I can't help but notice that her face is plastered with about 6 layers of makeup and more eyeliner and lipstick than Mimi from the Drew Carey Show. Of course I smile and say hello, but to my surprise she knows my name. "Hi Tanya! I'm Carol, the head supervisor! Megan from Office Team (my temp agency) wants you to call her."
With that simple phrase she turned her back to me and began walking away.
"Um, excuse me, Carol?" I was timid, I didn't want to sound stupid but I had no clue what she was talking about. "I'm sorry but I don't understand. You want me to call Office Team and tell them what?"
She turned and yelled back to me "Oh, Megan called me and didn't know how to reach you (mind you, Office Team calls my cell phone at least a few times a week). So she wants you to call her!"
"Oh, ok..." I picked up the company phone in front of me, dialed, and was soon informed by Megan that Carol had actually contacted her. Megan gently addressed the issue that Carol had brought to her attention, my "presentation, for lack of a better word." I guess Carol had requested that I either remove my piercing, or leave the job.
She had actually called and asked my temp agency to do her dirty work, and without ever having met me in her life. Plus, the first and only time I did meet her, she lied to me. Nice people they have selling you cars these days. Honestly, I think people would rather buy a luxury vehicle from an honest individual with one classy piercing than from an old, clownish hag who lies through her lipstick-stained teeth.
Since she was of a totally different generation than myself and her other employees, I can understand her aversion to my "presentation." But on my way home I began to think about the situation, and became sickened at realizing that they had no one else to work the front desk for the rest of that day. I had only worked for one hour, and I was signing people in until the moment I walked out the door. They literally would've rather had no one attending to their customers than me. All because of my miniscule lip bling. Damn.
I guess I could complain, but whatever, the day they let me go was beautiful, and I wouldn't have been up early enough to enjoy it otherwise. Gotta focus on the brightness.
This siuation made me wonder how long it will take for old farts like her to cash in on their soc. sec. and finally be able to keep their prejudices to themseleves. I'm aware that I was taking a risk by accepting a job at a high-end car dealership, but I went through with it just hoping that they would appreciate my work and disregard my apparent presentation flaw. I may not be a genius, but I can take on almost any task that's thrown at me. Just don't mess with my metal. Thanks.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
In addition to the new eBay items, this seller also has her own website where you can order completely custom necklaces! She can even take a picture of your own tattoo and transform it into a wearable piece of art. Some of the examples she displays on the site are ridiculously realistic. And the girls wearing them are ridiculously hot. Genius.
Also, thanks to the site I can now tell you that the artist is a 26 year old cutie named Emily Pericht. As I mentioned in the previous post, she handmakes and handpaints all of the items she sells, which also include purses and art prints.
Oh, and by the way, I'd like to start taking suggestions for blog posts. Anything that has to do with body modification can be addressed - Ask me questions, tell me your stories, send me photos, hell you can even send me pieces of your scalpeled lobes if you want (I really shouldn't encourage people....). I just LOVE body modification, and opening up a dialogue about its many aspects.
If you read this, you must be interested in body modification. So what's goin' on in your modified state of mind?
Shoot it all to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Recently I was surfing around the 'Bay and came upon a seller who creates her own tattoo-themed necklaces. They are all literally handpainted and handcrafted, some with customizable banners. The detail in these things is insane! Unfortunately, the auctions for the particular necklaces shown here have ended, but I trust she'll be featuring some new items soon enough. Fellow eBayers, put her in your Favorite sellers and get an e-mail notification sent when she does list new goodies! And at $15-$19 a pop, you might have trouble keeping your mouse pointer away from that "Place Bid" button. Happy Bidding!
Sunday, March 04, 2007
At 1:28 PM, Anonymous said...
I just finished reading ALL of your posts. They're great! Keep up the good work. I'm going to try to find out how to contact you because I want to get your advice. I too am in post-secondary school, and I want to involve my interest and love of body modification in my studies.
You inspire me. Thank-you.
Thanks for your interest and praise! My e-mail is email@example.com and I'd be happy to help you in any way I can. Thanks again :o)At 1:32 AM, A maori in Montana said...
...Ta moko, as you will know by now is a very special and prestegious thing to our people. It shows your whakapapa, your mana, things very important to us. It is not a design like I heard you mention. It is also reserved for only maori people. In a world where traditions are dying, its one of a handful we have left and keep to ourselves. Kirituhi however, is a design, and is for anyone who choses to get one.
Just thought that I would play devils advocate and say that Im sorry that that was your experience of who you think Maori people are, but please dont label us all as being close minded, sarcastic bigots, because were not. Some of us are even educated and quite worldly.
-The Maori in Montana-
Hi there! I wanted to respond to this portion of your comment in order to clarify my use of the word "design." (I quoted "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.") I should have, but didn't, specifically mention the concept of kirituhi, which I learned about while in NZ. Kirituhi is, as you noted, a form of tattooing done by a Maori moko artist on a non-Maori person. The style of kirituhi appears similar to that of the moko, but their meanings differ greatly due to the cultural background of the tattooee. To have a moko is to be a Maori. In the eyes of the Maori, it is impossible to be a non-Maori and have a moko. I understand and respect this custom, and never meant to imply that I desired to appropriate one of the sacred rites of the Maori.
I also want to apologize for apparently portraying the Maori as "close minded, sarcastic bigots", which was not my intention at all. In fact, I made sure to note:
"It may not be my place to make such observations, but I’m just recounting my experience – perhaps it was a singular one." AND
"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 truly didn't mean to imply that all Maori are the same. In fact I met a few very kind and compassionate Maori individuals who did not display their mana in the slightest. I try not to generalize, especially about a certain group of people- stereotypes don't help anything. Like I mentioned, I was only trying to truthfully recount my experience. Thank you for your comments, and I hope that I did not offend you or your people with my post.
At 8:17 AM, Rebekah said...
The difference is that pot bellies and large hands are genetic (some people are pre-disposed to where their weight goes) and piercings are a choice. Therefore, the media wants to continue to pick on the modified for making choices that aren't THEIRS! By not following the stereotypes that THEY choose for us, we are WRONG!
Did you go? i got to the bbq yesterday afternoon and left this morning and didn't know how to find you :(
Thank you for your well-placed sarcasm :o) And I'm sorry I missed you at the BBQ! I slept over both nights, and got absolutely POURED on the second night, so my friends and I left before the party got moved to the falls. Hope you enjoyed it, and perhaps I'll see you next time!
...Just to play devil's advocate:
You might need to rethink your defense of modification, i.e. "if you don't like it, don't get mods." Just seeing radical mods disgusts some people- that's like saying "if you don't like to hear people swear, don't swear." It's not bigotry or tyranny; it's just an ingrained impulse towards revulsion, and until you can convince everyone that pierced flesh isn't scary, you'll be fighting the innate human fear of(apparent) mutilation and pain.
-Henry slash Matt-
First off, it was awesome to see you briefly at MTB in Boston, I'm sorry we didn't get to chat more! Also, your response made me think about how people outside of a certain subgroup are often well-intentioned, but ignorant in their comments. Think about all of the inadvertantly racist things a person can say, and how dumbfounded they seem when their error is pointed out. Matt, although you're a friend of mine, I must say that it offends me to think that you might see my mods as repulsive. And I think that the swearing comparison is a bit flawed, in that cursing can negatively influence children in earshot, and in that hearing is not as easy to control as sight. If we are nearby someone having a vulgar conversations, it's very difficult to tune them out. But when one sees a modified person (whom you seem to be saying has a dirty appearance rather than a dirty mouth), they can easily avert their eyes. That is if they're not compelled to gawk. It's not easy doing something you believe in when others tell you it's wrong or disgusting. Gay marriage anyone?
And I'm sorry you see pierced flesh as representative of "the innate human fear of mutilation and pain," because I don't believe that any such perception could be referred to as "innate." That's a very sensitive word to use, because in the modern world we often mistake cultural conventions for the "way things SHOULD be." Be careful people! Just think - after the Big Bang, upon the appearance of human beings, was religion immediately a part of life? How about sex? Beauty ideals? Monogomy? What is real? Really?
Thanks for your comments anyways my darling :o)
At 11:58 PM, killa kellyyyyyy said...
hey thats dave's tattoo!
my family is also extremely close minded about tattoos\piercings. my dad said he went to a locel deli in town and someone who worked there had arm tattoos and facial piercings and he said he's never going to go there again because of it. he says that society looks down on people with them and automatically assumes they are dirty. i honestly threw a fit with him, especially because i worked at that deli and i had pink and purple hair and a nose piercing at the time and i cannot communicate with him that it does not mean you are dirty, he's just extremely close minded and i feel like i can't do anything about it... i just hope he doesn't spit on me when i get visible tattoos.
Hello love! All I can say is that your dad is a product of his generation. When you grow up being told that minorities are dirty, cheating, lying assholes, you're going to be one racist-ass adult. No worries baby, I still think you're drop dead gorgeous and far from dirty :o)
I'd like to thank ALL of my readers for giving my thoughts some attention. I hope to bring you all kinds of goodness in the future! Check back tomorrow for a post on awesome DIY tattoo necklaces!
Monday, January 29, 2007
Since grills were first brought to the States in the 80s by a guy named Eddie Plein, the trend has been growing among an elite membership of rappers including Outkast, Ludacris, and Lil' Wayne. For the majority of it's life, the grill has been available only to the rich and famous, but has recently become more easily accesible to the rest of us.
Around 2000, more and more rappers from the "Dirty South" began appearing on the hip-hop scene. And if you're familiar with names like Paul Wall and Nelly, you know that in actuality these figures are far from filthy. In fact, they're typically outfitted with enough immaculate bling around their necks to give a grown man scoliosis. And as of recently, many rappers out of the Dirty South also rock a set of mouthguard-esque grills, often jewel-encrusted or fashioned completely from precious metals. Thus with the popularization of Dirty South hip-hop came a huge demand among its fans for grills, and in response came a flood of supply from a growing number of grill dealers across the country.
Many suppliers offer their grills online, but the process of purchasing one isn't as cut and dry as snagging a vintage dress off of eBay. To get a custom grill, one must first have a substantial savings account. If you've got that issue covered, then simply send out for a dental mold kit. Once you've received the kit, follow the instructions to make a plaster mold of your pearlies. Send the mold on back to the company of your choice, and voila! A few weeks later you'll be strutting around blinding people left and right with your untouchable bling.
Ok, so you may be wondering, what the hell does all this have to do with body modification? Well, although many grills sold out there are temporary accessories that allow you to turn your gansta-ness on and off at will, others are quite permanent. They're typically cemented onto teeth in either a set, or one by one like caps. Upon learning that some grill connoisseurs will be chillin' out 50 years from now with the same sparkle sparkle they acquired in their twenties, I couldn't help but think back to some of the...immature...tattoos I've seen over the years. Some people are just in total denial that their Playboy bunny tat won't be so appealing to them 30 years from now.
Grills also have something else in common with modding. If you or a friend have ever gotten a labret piercing, then you may be familiar with the ever-annoying issue of gum recession. The metal disks affixed to the back of labret jewelry constantly rub against the gums, and over time the gum actually begins to wear away. This damage is totally irreversible, causing many labret fans to lay their adornments to rest when recession first becomes apparent.
Just like labrets, grills are a major cause for concern in terms of oral hygeine. The removable kind must be taken out before eating or sleeping, and cleaned often. Otherwise, bacteria can build up on the grill as well as on your teeth, resulting in 24/7 morning breath. Other risks that can be avoided by removing your grill often are cavities, gum disease, tooth decay, and even bone decay.
There's also another danger inherent to copping a grill set. Some companies that claim to have "years of experience" are in fact newbies looking for actual experience. This brought me back to a few conversations I've had with mod artists who are now long-time professionals, but spent their early years in the business under a veil of a 3-4 more years of experience than they actually had. So, the lesson is, get your body altered however you want, but be sure to know a little something about the person who's doing the alterations. You don't want to end up with a botched tat or a snaggletooth, so please, I beg y'all, LOOK AT PORTFOLIOS! What could serve as better insurance that you will receive high quality work than a history of high quality work?
Ok, one more thing. It seems to me that someone who is made uncomfortable by a face full of piercings might also be wary of grillers, looking fierce as they do. I found one article in a Louisiana newspaper that addressed this issue briefly: "Students with grills don’t like being stereotyped as mischievous...people don’t need to fear that people with grills are going to rob or hurt them.
'The average person look at them as a bad thing. They say he got golds, he probably ain’t doing nothing positive, but little do they know. People are going to miss out if they do that,' Harper said."
Although less than eloquent, the message comes through quite clearly. "People are going to miss out" if they have preconceptions about someone's personality based on their appearance. Schools in Alabama, Georgia, and Texas have already taken measures to outlaw the wearing of grills in school because of unfounded negative assumptions about the accessories. School is a fashion contest anywho, with all the expensive jewelry and trendy shoes and labels galore - so why are grills such an issue? People need to open their minds, man. Looks aren't everything, and are often misleading rather than revealing.
So there's my lil' blast from the hip-hop world. I personally enjoy the schtuff of some hip-hop artists, but despise that of others, so finding a connection between my favorite subject (uhhh, mods) and this alien culture was quite intriguing to me. And hopefully to y'all too. School's back in session, so as always I'm busy with all that jazz, but I'm going to try and post a few times this month. Wish me luck :o)