body modification (tattoo, piercing, implant)

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This is a subject which I have to admit, intrigues me. Due to my birth defects, I underwent a total of 12 surgeries to correct most of the deformities that resulted. It was not a very pleasant journey, especially as a child.

My greatest desire when I was younger was to look ‘normal’, as in having a regular looking face, no scars, no braces, and seeing with both eyes instead of one. I became convinced that no matter what I did, I would always stick out from the crowd because of what happened to me. It made me extremely self-conscious about myself and I grew very depressed over it.

Learning to accept yourself is a tough road, especially if you’ve spent a lot of time hating yourself. I slowly began to deal with my circumstances. I’m not going to look like Angelina Jolie, no matter what I do. Though one guy said I looked like Drew Barrymore, but I think he was drunk when he said it. Anyhow.

So, how does all this tie into body art? I people watch a lot. I like to observe people, how they dress, how they act in public. I know tattoos are becoming more acceptable in public, even the full sleeves I’ve seen some folks sport. Some older folks frown on it, regarding it as body mutilation or desecration, behavior left to lower class people. I began to see myself as unusual, because of my experiences and looks, and if that was the case, I shouldn’t be so afraid to be out of the ordinary. I was fascinated by people who got the more involved tattoos such as full sleeves, big back pieces, extensive work that can’t be easily covered up. Every time I would see someone with major ink, I wanted to ask them about it, why, what it means to them, did they regret it? I also am drawn to the artistic angle, because I have seen some beautifully executed designs. Sure, you can go to school to learn this trade, but a truly gifted artist shows it in the quality of their work. Some of the designs are personal, or abstract. Some are inspired by classic art images (those happen to be my favorite ones).

Then there is the practice of body modification, and on this subject I’m a little more apprehensive. I…find it unpleasant to look at, especially coming from where I’ve been. We’re taking someone who is normal by most standards and proceeds to deliberately alter their appearance. People who have these nubs implanted under the skin to grow ‘horns’, branding, scarification. I can understand in some parts of the world it has cultural significance, but I sometimes wonder when people in first world countries choose to do it to themselves. I know they see what they’re doing to their bodies is artistic expression, but I think it’s a matter of personal taste.

I suppose in a sense what I went through was a form of ‘body modification’, but it was a necessity and done to correct what wasn’t right with me. The body modifiers are changing their bodies for their own personal meanings. I have heard some say it’s a sense of euphoria for them, that they enjoy the pain. That’s something I never truly understood. I’ve been hesitant to ask why, but I’m frankly curious. I like learning the whys behind people’s actions, because it helps me get a better sense of them than simply judging by looks alone.

As for me….well, that’s an interesting question. I’ve had all the body modification I could handle via my reconstructive surgeries, so my quota on that is filled. I have gauged my ears, though. Not too large, though. I used to have four piercings in each ear, but it got annoying after a while because my hair would get caught in them constantly and I let the fourth set close up. I have three holes in each ear now, the lowest pair being the gauged ones. They’re at size 10 at the moment, though I have pondered going down a size. I have my own sense of aesthetics, and I just don’t see myself sporting a pair of 00 plugs, to be honest. Not my style. Considering all that I’ve had done to me with operations, why on earth would I get tattoos? To be truthful, my surgeries hurt a heck of a lot more than the ink. I have two tattoos at the moment. My first is on my left shoulder, and my second is on the inside of my left wrist. Both have meaning for me, in art and spiritual context. The first is of a leaping stag with fanciful antlers; the original was found on the mummy of a Pazyryk woman dubbed ‘The Lady of Pazyryk’. The second is the Celtic symbol of Awen, or divine inspiration/creation. Looks like this /|\ and I added three dots at the top and bottom of the design. I am seriously contemplating more work, but only after lots of thought and suitable designs are made. Cost is always something to consider as well.

I would hope to those who read this, especially if there are any devoted tattoo fans, what they think of this. I wonder how they will see things after reading this. I’d love to talk to some of you out there on this, because I think it’s a very interesting subject to ponder. I look forward to feedback on this.