Gimme A Little Skin...

Body art, body modifications, piercing, tattoos, scarification, cutting... What images come to mind when you read or hear those words? Most people I find tend to fall into two camps; those that view the aforementioned words as a means to show their souls on their skins, and those that either don't understand that desire or find it uninteresting or abhorrent. Myself? I most definitely fall into the former camp. I have been decorating my body since I was young and wanting to express myself in a way that I was at a loss to do with words.

Some people wonder how it all begins. I think that motivations vary widely. For some, there is an inherent frustration in being able to express strong emotions verbally. Others may find it a comfort (or a very powerful addiction) to modify their flesh in a variety of ways. There are other reasons, but I'm not going to point them out here as this is not the point of what I am writing about today. It has always interested me how our American society views "acceptable" versus "non-acceptable/weird" changes to our bodies and how these views have evolved over the last 30 years or so. Coloring your hair in "appropriate" shades is OK, but bright hues are strange. A single set of pierced ears was fine for women, but with each additional hole in the earlobe a cultural line was crossed in the sand. Too many, and you approach freakish standards. For men the earlobes with jewelry determined whether he was gay or straight. Tattoos were unusual especially on women, and I had my first at age 18.

When I was a teenager, nose piercings and brightly colored (blue, orange, etc.) hair was generally seen as odd or freaky. Go figure, I had both. I remember vividly walking down the street as a young punk (it was the mid 1980's) toward a mom with her young child. As they grew closer, the mom gave me a shocked look, then pulled her child abruptly close to her and well out of my path. To my own young anti-establishment self, I was both proud and sad of that moment.

It makes me happy to see the greater acceptance of altered bodies today. While I don't care for some of those modifications for my own body, I can certainly understand the desire to stand out in a crowd or to wear my beliefs on my skin. Why does all this come up? Last night I dreamed about tattoos. It was a rather frustrating experience actually, since I kept waiting and waiting for the person to show up. Then they kept putting the wrong artwork on my skin, and I wasn't able to voice to them that I really didn't want these designs on my hands, I wanted something different. I never did get the art done that I wanted, but I am not sure if my dream-self ever would have.

My waking self, on the other hand, I hope will eventually have the artwork on my skin that I want. I have been thinking of tattoo designs for many years, and I have finally come up with a few that I want sooner than later. Two of them I need to refine the drawing to fit me a little better. The others will have to wait until I can find the time (and eventual money) to accomplish them. Maybe I will even splurge on a tattoo machine for myself and eventually make some trades...

So, what are your views on body modifications, and how did you come to them?

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