Modification Discrimination

When I see a photograph of a modified individual, there are a variety of things my eyes are drawn  to which obviously include the tattoo, piercing or other alteration of the body that is presented as the subject.  Often times I am fascinated by the intricate artwork of tattoos, the innovation of a piece of piercing jewelry and the general evolution of body modification.  It is nothing new and a passion that has been with me for so long that I dare anyone to say that is merely a ‘phase’ that I will eventually grow out of.  To the contrary, I have a great appreciation for the commitment to the pain that yields an aesthetically pleasing result.  The procedures are thousands of years old while the tools and techniques have made incredibly advancements and artists invest lifetimes to master their trade.

Body modification is not for everyone – it should not be treated as a trend or a fashion accessory because what might be ‘cute’ or ‘cool’ today can certainly wind up being a highly regrettable decision years later.  However, there are enough people who respect the history and tradition that continue to advocate education and safety of seeking a professional when one does decide to modify.  Some of my best friends are tattooed or pierced, and I have the privilege of living in  a city where a significant portion of the population sports at least one as well.  Other evidence of body modification can be seen in those who bike or jog around the city to maintain lean bodies, those who spend hours in the gym building muscle, those who frequently visit salons to have their hair cut or dyed, nails polished or fitted with tips and bodies sprayed or baked tan.  My point being that I see it everywhere and am comfortable enough with my appearance that I tend not to really notice if people react negatively, unless they are being extremely loud or staring at me.  Then again, I do find myself to be more amused than offended in those types of situations, and there are an equal amount of people who engage in conversation where they ask questions in a curious manner.

Not everyone has the ability to ignore the words of others, which admittedly can be difficult when they are cruel, vicious and meant to cause harm.  The thought that they are “just words” can be counteracted by proof that individuals who have been bullied via the Internet and in real life have gone on to commit suicide.  Instead of teaching that one should grow a thick skin or combat bullies with silence, there should be lessons of tolerance and accepting that everyone is different in some way.  These physical attributes which people have no control over are often the targets of cruel jokes and general finger-pointing, so sadly it is no surprise that the choice of one’s appearance can and will be the topic of discussion by strangers.

There does come a point where such a discussion stops being words typed on a screen by some anonymous person with a silly Internet handle and can very easily have an impact on someone.  Browsing through the ‘face tattoos’ tag on Tumblr brings up the same stupid question over and over again, that being why anyone would “want to do that to themselves”.  Here is a novel idea – no one owes you an explanation and perhaps your time would be better spent not sticking your nose into someone else’s life.  What other people do to their bodies is their business and there should be none dictating what one can or cannot do.  If you want breast implants three times the size of your head, tattoos that cover your entire body or hair that makes you feel more like your favorite celebrity, if it is safe, sane and consensual, I have no fucks to give and encourage everyone to do what makes them happy.

What irks me is that those who are not modified [and even those who may dye their hair and have a couple of piercings or tattoos] are quick to place judgment on those who are.  Examples of this can be found all over the Internet, though I was unfortunate enough to stumble across this post on Poorly Dressed, where the title alone I felt was pretty offensive. Aside from the stretched labrets, I see nothing in the photo that is really far up on the body modification spectrum.  Then again, I have also seen the photo posted on Tumblr, which coincides with a story about the couple and how much she enjoys being a mother.  As much as I understand the site exists to make fun of those with questionable fashion taste, I do not really see the point or reason to picking on modifications.

The comment section is absolutely disgusting and I really wish I could say I am surprised at the reactions.  There are many that seem to desperately wish the photo is shopped, because obviously no one would ever really actually make a large hole in their face.  Some real gems include:

  • “Oh please let it be photoshopped.  Otherwise I might just have to kill myself to avoid a world with such freaks in it.”
  • “people like this need therapy if not medication.”
  • “Yeah so you can whine about people that rightfuly mock you to all your freak friends. When secretly you all enjoy the attention that you can’t get any other way because with out mutilating yourselves you are just too boring to tolerate.”
  • “Somehow, I have a hard time picturing these two in an employed position.”
  • “Yeah, I’m thinking “work” is the operative word here. Unless you’re employed at a tattoo parlor, night club, or Hot Topic.”
  • “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any problem with expressing yourself, but I do think some people go too far and do stuff just to be “non-conformist”.
    My biggest problem with using tattos and piercings to “express yourself” is that so few people do it aesteticly. I mean, unless you meant to say “hey, look, I’m an ugly monster.””
  • “Why ruin those nice faces with that useless s–t?”
  • “Words can’t express the revulsion I’m feeling – wait… BLEEEARGH! There we go!”
  • “This makes me ask myself “what can I do to prevent my kids from being like that”?”
  • “This is not beautiful, they are not beautiful, and no matter how loving they are as parents, their children will hate them in the future.  They don’t have courage. Courage is living well in the face of something one cannot control. What they are doing is a desperate cry for attention through “being unique” and “self-expression”, the idea for which they got from watching other with similar modification get stares of horror and disgust.”

Had to stop with that last comment as it is such a great example of the amount of ignorance that infects so  many.  You are welcome to your opinion, but it is extremely unfair to assume that every single person gets modified for attention.  It comes with the territory, no doubt, and I have experienced both the positive and negative sides of it.  However, I can say with the utmost confidence that myself and most of those I know do not enjoy these “stares of horror and disgust”.  Being modified does not prevent one from being a parent, teacher, mentor or anything else, and I see tattooed people in a wide variety of jobs that extend beyond tattoo shops and alternative stores.  Oh yea, and I had kids in high school call me a freak long before you discovered your balls for being able to hurl it towards people you do not even know on a snark site.  Does what others do to their bodies really affect your life so much that you have to dedicate time to actively hate on them?

This sort of behavior does not stop at the Internet, nor is it exclusive to children or teens who find pretty much any excuse to bully others.  An even more ironic thought is that making comments such as the ones above makes it seem as though those people are the ones who need validation of their existence through attempting to make the wittiest remark.  Congratulations, you earned yourself some eternal Internet glory and the prestigious honor of presenting this insight to the mentality of society.  There are far more important things to concern oneself with, and a child being interested in body modification is definitely not something I feel should be at the top of the list.  This is a subject I have presented my opinion on in the past which is relevant to this article as well, because there is this irrational fear that somehow tattoos and piercings will change someone’s character in a negative way.

A little bit of tolerance goes a long way, and not matter how weird, strange or even gross you may find someone else’s appearance, no one has been appointed with the authority to control the way individuals want to express themselves.  In fact, I feel it is a very important aspect of life that should be encouraged, not put down because others do not understand it.  Take five minutes to talk to someone and ask them polite questions – I guarantee that you will learn something and might even be less likely to assume things about people because of their appearance.  Projecting stereotypes does nothing but harbor ignorance and it shamelessly runs rampant among society.  While it may seem like bliss, I cannot imagine how unhappy people must be due to secluding themselves to a narrow-minded view and refusing to accept the fact that their opinions are pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Photo credit: 1 – oddee.com

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