Living In A Frowning World
Let me start by saying that though I am not an incredibly attractive woman, I get my fair share of friendly and flirty smiles. Let me also say that I have a total of 17 piercings and once dyed my hair pink and white. Until yesterday, I was treated with general kindness.
Until yesterday, I only had ear piercings, (6 on each, with a 7th on my right) and two small studs in one nostril. My body modifications were not obvious nor glaringly offensive. However, yesterday, I got a Medusa and Labret piercing and had to go home by bus. The second I stepped out of the piercing parlor, I was appalled by the looks I was getting. People were staring at me like I was some kind of show: a woman up for display, some figure that you can gawk at and judge.
I don't know when I put a sign of "You can hate me just from how I look!" on my forehead, but I certainly didn't want to. My elation at my new piercings was quickly dampened by the looks I got. Even my mother commented on how she didn't want to look at them because they scared her and made her think of pain. I got not a single smile the entire day after being pierced from someone who didn't know me.
Sure, I live in a small town (Northeast Philadelphia, 10 minutes by car from the closest Walmart) but that doesn't mean that people can be small MINDED. Even when my hair was pink and white, I was only treated with mild amusement and slight apprehension, even a hint of awe from those who didn't know me personally. Even though the piercings were new yet not swollen, even though they looked normal on my face and even made me look BETTER, I was given venomous looks that made my happy spirit start to welt.
Why? Did I suddenly change, become less sunny when I got a piece of metal jammed through my lip? Did I, somehow, become a criminal, a fearsome 17 year old girl, not even 5 feet 3 inches in height in a pink T-shirt? I don't understand why I had to be treated with the disrespect I was given.
Even when convincing my family of my desire for metal, they looked aghast at my suggestions. Once, my father roared that his daughter will not ruin herself with something like that. My younger brother, 14, told me that even a tattoo would be better than a piercing. Upon asking him why, he said "You can get tattoos removed at a doctor's office, but piercings are forever."
Is this the garbage they teach the youth now? Is this the trash they feed the populace? I am not dangerous for having a stud in my face, I am not your enemy.
That being said, I am also not a cruel, judgmental persona, and when I accidentally bumped into someone on the bus, I apologized with two quick "I'm sorry’s”, only to be glared at when the person saw my appearance. My mother, though doing the same thing, was not given such a look. Though I embrace individuality and compassion, understanding and genuine outreach to other people, I couldn’t help but dislike them and their treatment of me.
Why? Had I done something wrong? Have I suddenly given people a free pass at staring at me? Yes, I may look a bit different from others, but that is no reason to dislike me or judge me. On the bus ride TO the piercing parlor, I was given happy looks and was regarded as a human being.
The same can, obviously, not be said for the ride home. My brother commented on how he liked the Medusa better than the Labret, that I looked strange, and asked, again, why I did it. My mother looked morbid and unhappy, wondering why she had given me permission and telling me that everyone will call her a horrible mother. My father took one look at me and promptly said “I don’t know why you insist on making yourself so ugly.”
Why the intolerance? Why the judgment and the rudeness? Because they are my family, I forgive them, I love them after all, but I can’t help but feel stung. It is not fun being treated differently. Whether male or female, tall, short, gorgeous, plain, dark skinned or light, EVERYONE deserves to be treated with respect.
I guess that’s one reason why I love the body modification community so much. Regardless of your appearance, despite your sexual preferences, forgoing your racial background, you are HUMAN and you are not shunned. We are a more tolerant and accepting group, one that, I’ve found, prefers peace to violence. Why the cruelty? It stings. One shouldn’t be unkind to others.
So the one hint, the ONE advice I can give is this: when a random stranger stares at you, gawks, or glares, just smile at them.
One day we can make their eyes narrow from how wide their grins are.
submitted by: DollParts7
on: 11 July 2012
in BME Editorials