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Cross My Ummmm...Toe

I had been wanting to brand myself for awhile, but the timing never seemed right. I really wanted to do a crisscross design around my big right toe – kind of like a permanent toe ring, but it seemed like I could never find a block of a few days where I wouldn't have to worry too much about walking on it, or when I was in a state of mind where I could take in what I was doing. Christmas break was supposed to be the perfect opportunity, but since we had company I had to give up my room...therefore losing any privacy I would have had/needed to do my work. I finally settled on the weekend after winter midterms in January. Since it was the end of the semester, I wouldn't have any work or worries, and would be relaxed enough to get the best out of everything. Exam week came and went, I was counting the days until I could do my toe.

Friday night came and I ended up going out. Saturday and Sunday passed as well, and I didn't do my branding. Monday was our last day off, and I had pretty much decided to not do it that night only because of school the next day...but of course things never go the way I plan!! Everything hit the perfect lull, my parents were out of the house, I was in a pretty good mood, so I went in my room and turned up my stereo...I feel like I always need loud music when I do anything to do with BM or anything spiritual, and that night was no different...I had Cradle of Filth going as loud as possible. Then I had to gather up my materials.

I use a candle flame as a source of heat, I know it isn't as hot as other methods, but I find that with repeated heating and strikes, I can usually brand as deep as I need/want to, and I like not having much heat at one time so I can have a teeny bit more precision with the strikes, I just build on the areas that need a lot to create the scar. In terms of metal, I use surgical stainless steel safety pins...again, they don't provide a huge surface area to brand with, but they give more precision...between the relatively low heat of the flame and the safety pins, it's a laborious process, but it gives me the results I want.

So I found a nice white candle and a handful of pins and some pens and matches and set them down on my bathroom floor. I decided to work in the bathroom since it would mean I'd have a ready source of water, peroxide, toothpaste, etc. without making a huge mess elsewhere in my room. I cleaned off my toe really well, dried it off, and marked the lines of the crisscross. I started on the inside of my toe and worked to the outside edge and the bottom, trying hard to connect with the starting point. Finally I was ready to begin the actual process. I took a deep breath and lit the candle.

I unbent one of the safety pins and stuck it in the flame until I could feel heat creeping up toward my fingers, then I bent down and...held it against my skin! It's always a weird sensation for me, when I feel my skin sizzling away...the feeling is so intense, but it's nothing that I could describe as pain. I think it's because pain to me is always a negative, associated with bad or harmful actions, and body modification for me is not bad or negative, and only harmful if something goes wrong. So I went once over the whole design, then started on the second time around. About halfway through, I was having some problems seeing my design, because the skin on my toe that was supposed to be burning away was blistering (one of the downfalls of using low heat and safety pins). So, making good use of my pins, I slid it in at the beginning of each blistered line, and pulled up quickly to separate the skin where it needed to be separated. I used the toothbrush to chafe away the ski n, and did another layer or two with the safety pin. When I got to doing the underside of my toe, my foot actually jerked away from some uncontrollable reflex of mine...it was the weirdest feeling, because I consciously did NOT want to jerk away, but there it went...so doing the underside was a bit more challenging than the other parts, but I eventually got through it.

When I finished the branding, I rinsed the whole area with peroxide, partially as an irritant, partially to hopefully prevent some infection. About this time, it did start to really HURT, so I just bandaged it and stuck my sock back on. The next day at school, I was completely unprepared for the pain...I had never thought about how much we, um, yes, use our toes when walking, especially up and down stairs. So I learned, oh yes I did!!!! Every morning and night I made sure to scrub with toothbrush & toothpaste. (My mom never noticed the limping, however she did notice the excessive toothpaste use...) After about a week a scab finally formed, which I promptly removed. It's been four months now, and it's healed pretty well. Since the branding overall was not very deep, the scar is already a bit difficult to see, but it's undeniably there and undeniably in the crisscross shape that I wanted. Of course, there's also the not so teeny detail that I haven't mentioned yet...

Hopefully as you read this, you said to your self "Goodness. That was all rather stupid of her." If you didn't, I'm saying to you: "Goodness. That was all rather stupid of me." Let's examine some facts...first, the sterility of my bathroom floor...give me a break. That's just all inviting infection. Sterility of the safety pins? Ha! I wish...I never mentioned being particularly careful about infection after the branding – because honestly, I wasn't. I was definitely in a mode of "I want this so bad I refuse to acknowledge that I am doing something that could turn out terribly for me and my poor toe." I can't in good conscience say to anyone that I would recommend doing what I did, because although by some lucky stroke everything turned out wonderfully for me, it's much better to let someone who can properly sterilize EVERYTHING and have a safe environment – and hopefully has some kind of true experience & training in modifications. I'm not saying I regret my branding – because I don't. But I will acknowledge that from a purely logical standpoint, it was not anywhere near an intelligent thing to do...and as much as passions or whatever may rule what people choose to do, it's important to fully realize that a)a scar is forever and b)creating a brand like I did (creating it in any manner really, but especially the way I did) is taking a huge risk...one of those "I may not want to have to explain this or live with this later" kinda risks.

Also to any people that are as young as I am considering scarification/mods – please think about it. I know that this is definitely something I don't mind having the rest of my life – even though that means explaining what "that thing" is to all my boyfriends, to all my (somewhat judgmental) friends, eventually to my parents, to anyone that sees it, which is something that can be pretty difficult at this age. And even though it means that I will have this for THE REST OF MY LIFE. Which hopefully is going to be a long time from now. And it will be a reminder of this time in my life. Those don't bother me and hopefully it wouldn't bother you, but please, I beg, if you have ANY kind of doubt about body mods, or even if you don't, you owe it to yourself to spend a long time thinking about what you are doing, and if you honestly want to be doing it and facing all of it's consequences. Beyond thinking, you owe it to your body to make sure you get any mods done in a safe envi ronment – even if it means waiting a few years. Would you rather have instant gratification followed by a large possibility of serious complications OR waiting awhile, which would also be a definite way to know if you really want it or not, and at the same time increasing the odds of having a healthy body for the rest of your long life? I love my toe ring – but after taking some time to think about it, I know I also love myself enough to take my mods seriously...and hopefully in the future, more carefully.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 06 May 2002
in Scarification

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