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Looking the Part - nonmodifying mods

Even though in today's world it seems there is more and more of a tolerance for those who live a more alternative lifestyle be it a slightly modified lifestyle or one that is more extreme, there is, ironically, a taboo aura that seems to follow those that choose to live a more altered existence. Like any taboo, it seems there is a following for various reasons, one being the full experience of having the modifications done to just experiencing the culture and community. For me personally, owner of 1 tattoo and double pierced lobes (non-stretched), it is definitely not about the physical experience. In fact, it is hard for me to make my way into a full modified culture due to several reasons including my extreme fear of needles. I never thought my ear lobe piercings to be anything other than just that, by far a body modification - but my tattoo, a memorial to my father, put my first foot into the body modification world and opened my eyes up to all the possibilities. Recently on BMEZine I read an article about a few individuals who were having difficulties finding a job due to their body modifications. My first reaction as a person is "who is this company to tell their employees what they can or cannot do to their bodies," but, as with all first thoughts there is the 'but.' A company/organization can dictate what image they portray to the community and I suppose it is their right to pass up qualified individuals for something as ludicrous as a piercing or tattoo. This brings me to my main point of this article - how can a person that wishes to be accepted into both communities, the mainstream and the modified, get along? Or someone like me, who really isn't into the whole needle thing? There are several non-piercing solutions as well as non-permanent. One of the most famous forms of a non-permanent tattoo is henna. Henna got its mention in the Bible in the Book of Solomon and has since been grown to dye the skin. The dye is obviously not permanent and will wear away. It is a sign of beauty in many Middle Eastern cultures with women dying their fingernails, skin and hair. Black henna is primarily used for the soles of the feet and palms of the hands while red henna is used for the tips of the fingers and toes. The coloration left by the henna will last for approximately two or three weeks. Another form of modifications without the modification are non-piercing jewelry including, but not limited to tongues, nipples, genitals, naval and ears. There are many different means in which this jewelry can "stay put" such as suction is used for the "tongue ball" while slip nooses or tension for nipple rings/shields. Clips are a popular form of non-piercing jewelry as well. The only real preparation is to set time aside the first time you use your jewelry to ensure that you are comfortable with the fit and can adjust accordingly. Nothing more embarrassing that fumbling with your jewelry and have your lover point out that it is not on right, crooked or you find yourself in a world of hurt... literally! I would like to touch on one major benefit to non-permanent modification jewelry or ink - teenagers. I have seen many articles and surveys regarding whether or not a teenager should be allowed to make the decision on their own to get non-traditional piercings or tattoos. Many, even those in the modified community, feel that a younger teenager is too immature to be able to make a decision on whether or not they should permanently modify their body with a piercing or by getting ink. These non-permanent modifications can almost bridge a gap between parents and young teens by allowing them the freedom to look as they want to look without the worry the parents have of their child changing their body into something they may hate in 5 years. I can speak from experience here - I might be young but I have a now 18 year old that lived with my husband and me for nearly 5 years. She moved in when she was around 12 years old and in that time have dealt with the conversations surrounding tattoos and piercings. It is not that I forbade it - I was meerly worried, as a mother, what if she did something with her body that she would hate by the time she was twenty-five? Obviously, many laws were in my favor as the parent with the requirement of a parent's signature for non-standard piercings and tattoos. We had one experience with getting our 2nd lobe holes done together for her 15th birthday, but that is another story in itself. In the time she was with us, she was able to experience henna, different types of earrings in different locations as well as a belly button ring. She was very happy with the middle ground we were able to find. Now, at 18, she has (I think) 1 tattoo, an industrial bar in her ear, several other ear piercings as well as a belly ring. She made these decisions in the last few months and I think by waiting, she gave herself more time to mature and allow herself to make a more informed decision on what she was doing with her body. In summary, what can these modifications do? Why would anyone use them?

Freedom from a permanent body modification Freedom to remove an item for occassions such as work or social events where modifications may other wise not be completely appropriate Allow a person who is wanting to get a true modification a chance to see what their body will look like prior to the appointment A chance for someone with "true" modifications to do more and experience more with their modified look Give a "middle ground" to parents who would rather than teen not get a piercing or tattoo

I'm not writing this as an article to detract anyone from modifying their body via tattoo and piercings - I have done it too but, in a way, these temporary modifications are just as true as any other out there and can provide the same overall look as something that is more permanent.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 18 Nov. 2005
in Culture

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