Saying Goodbye… At Least for Now

It finally feels like spring! I’ve been drowning in so much rain lately that I was starting to think I had imagined warm weather, and that spring was some lovely pipe dream I had concocted. But now with some beautiful sunshine and warm breezes, it feels real.

The weird thing about spring though is that it never lasts too long. You have two, maybe three weeks tops, of blissfully perfect weather. And then suddenly you’re sweaty and miserable outside because suddenly and all at once, it’s summer.

As a college kid, summer is really fun because you have to get a summer job. And you spend all your free time running around like a crazy person, trying to make a little cash so you can afford food after you buy some insanely expensive and totally useful textbooks. Super fun.

Seeing this looming on the horizon, I think now may be a good time to bid you all farewell. Maybe permanently, but at least for the summer. I won’t have time to update regularly, since I’m anticipating running around like a chicken with its head cut off, so I figure it’s best to take a break.

If you find yourself in need of some piercing talk, never fear! Check out these websites:

Suspension.org
Tribalectic
Painful Pleasures

Free Piercings!!

So the other day, one of my roommates and a few friends decided to go get new piercings! Kinda random, since it was a Tuesday… but they had a solid motivation. Lucky’s Tattoo and Piercing parlor in Northampton was having a Free Piercing Day!!

Unfortunately, they didn’t quite get there in time. The shop was only open until 6:30 that day, so although they made it to the shop before it closed, they weren’t able to get anything done.

But not all was lost! The shop was super generous and gave them vouchers, good through Saturday, to redeem their free piercings!

I’ve heard of the free piercing days that Lucky’s has, usually once a month. I didn’t know that they offered vouchers though! But it makes sense – if a whole bunch of people come to support your shop, and you don’t get to them, you should still take care of them! Because then they’re happy, and you hopefully earn yourself a repeat customer.

And my friends really enjoyed using the vouchers that Saturday! My roommate said they had way more time to pick out the jewelry they wanted. No crowd meant all the space and time to check out the tons of jewelry options the store had. And they were all super stoked that all they had to pay for was the jewelry. They got great piercings, the shop made money – a win-win situation for everyone!

Moral of the story: when I’m able to get my next couple of piercings, I may check out Lucky’s free piercing day. And even if I can’t get it done that day, I won’t stress! I’ll just have to come back on an adventure to cash in on the voucher!

Zombie Boy

Zombie 2

For those of you who don’t know who this beautiful man is, meet Rick Genest, better known as Zombie or Zombie Boy.

Zombie is now a well-known artist, actor, and fashion model. But before his life in the lime light, Rico the Zombie’s life was very different.

As a young teenager, Zombie was diagnosed with a life-threatening benign brain tumor, and it did not look good. Surgery could save his life, but it could also severely disfigure or kill him. Lady Luck was on Zombie’s side it seems, since surgery through the palette left his face in tact and his life saved.

Forever marked by his brush with Death, Zombie left home and began his journey in becoming the walking dead. He roamed throughout Canada and slowly built his impressive collection of body art that reflected his Purgatory life view. After several years, his body modification began gaining him international attention, and here we are! Present day Zombie!

There’s a lot to admire about Zombie, but I admire most his conviction. Zombie knew from a very young age how he wanted to look. In a Dermablend spotlight, Zombie said this about his tattoos:

“They’ve been a part of me forever – before I even got them done. They reveal how I feel on the inside. I’m so used to how I look now that I don’t see them anymore. It’s like if you met someone with purple hair – after ten minutes you’d think, ‘ Oh yeah, they have purple hair. So what?'”

I really admire his indifference to social norms – I wish I could embrace that sort of ‘f*ck it’ attitude as much as he does. I don’t know what it is – his brush with death, his assent into fame, or just his personality – that allows him to be so callous. Whatever the reason, I hope I can get there someday.

I haven’t reached this point yet, but I have a feeling that one day there will be piercings (or who knows, tattoos) that I’ll want… that I’ll hesitate to get. And I’ll hesitate because of what ‘society’ and ‘people’ might think of me, and how it could impact the opportunities and successes I have in life. And that really sucks.

I wonder if Zombie ever had a moment of ‘should I do this? Should I cross this line?’ If he did, I wonder what convinced him to be true to himself.

What does any heavily modified person think? Did you ever consider not getting a piercing or tattoo because it may ‘cross the line’?

The Future of Body Mods Goes Digital

Body modification, for the most part, is a decorative practice. Which I don’t think is a bad or frivolous thing! Body mods can help a person feel completed and more like themselves, whether the piece is functional or not.

But imagine the nearly endless possibilities of functional body mods! Some people already are, with some really amazing innovations.

Take Anthony Antonelli, the man with the first ‘digital tattoo’: an RFID chip that’s implanted in his hand.

The RFID chip allows Antonelli to store digital art on his person at all times. Antonelli can access what’s stored on the chip using his cellphone and display it on-screen. He can also add and change content stored on the clip through use of his cellphone.

While currently limited to personal remote access, Antonelli is working on expanding the chip’s capabilities. He is working on an app that will allow him to download the chip’s content onto an Android device without being online. He also plans on using Arduino, an open platform, to make interactive objects using the chip’s content:

“With Arduino I can build stand-alone digital displays that can receive and showcase the chip content. The GIF storage is using just one possibility of the implant and there are lots of others I’m excited to explore.”

Another digital modification innovator is Jim Mielke. Mielke has designed a wireless, touch screen dermal implant that, get this: runs off blood.

That’s right, the man has created a smart phone designed to work under your skin because it’s powered by blood. Talk about being unable to disconnect!

Jokes aside, this is pretty cool. The screen is made out of a thin sheet of 2×4 silicon that is tightly rolled up and slid into a small incision and slowly unrolled until flat. Two tubes attached to the screen are connected to an artery and a vein to power the small blood-fueled power cell and maintain natural blood flow.

And this biologically-powered tech is capable of taking and displaying video calls, communicating with other Bluetooth devices, AND is touch screen. Although it’s not currently headed to commercialization, the excitement is real.

One final digital body mod that I’m super excited about are electronic tattoos. And while that sounds like morphing digital tattoos, they’re actually medically based.

The name electronic tattoos is slightly misleading, since they are more akin to temporary tattoos. More correctly called epidermal electronics, these patches are composed of coils of tiny silicon wires that connect to all functional portions of the device. Being silicon-based, they are able to stay on the skin for several days.

Early epidermal tattoos monitored muscle, heart, and brain activity, and the developers are working on expanding their capabilities to pregnancy motoring and muscle stimulation. Developer Dr. John A. Rogers has also made them implantable, able to stretch the electronics onto a balloon catheter to insert into and monitor the heart.

While these epidermal electronics are not widely available, Dr. Rogers has high hopes for their future. He sees them as being huge assets in rehabilitation, in improving the use of prosthetic limbs, and in controlling machinery. If Dr. Rogers’ predictions are correct, the line between man and machine will be significantly blurred.

But that is part of the thrill of body modification – blurring the lines between what’s natural and what’s possible.

Fixing my Face: Getting the Body Jewelry You Really Want

I had a vision for my nose: two beautiful flat studs, shiny and demure. They’d be snuggled up to my nose, one on each side, parallel and perfect. A matching set, and the only symmetrical piercings I’d have (besides my ear lobes).

And I got them! Two matching shiny baubles for my face. Only not the lovely flat studs I imaged. The girl working the counter at the shop I go to told me that people usually got flat studs only for work requirements. And maybe it wasn’t a good option for new, healing piercings – or maybe her own opinion made it seem like it wasn’t an option, not for someone who loved piercings. Either way, I picked out two cute little amber gems instead.

Don’t get me wrong, they were nice! And they worked very well while my nose was still healing. But they didn’t sit the way I wanted, those little pronged gems. And they would twist, showing differing amounts of the stone and catching different amounts of light.

My vision for myself wasn’t fulfilled. And with double or triple the healing time under my belt, I decided to change that.

Haven Body Arts

The store that helped me complete my vision ended up not being my usual shop, but one near my college: Haven Body Arts, located in the wonderful mecca of a city known as Northampton. I had talked to some people who’d been and had done some online research. It had great reviews and the jewelry looked fantastic, top of the line.

I decided to give it a shot and go out of my comfort zone. I am a fan of sticking with a shop you trust: one strongly recommended to you, one with all the necessary awards and certifications, and one you’ve had good experiences with. But since I was only looking to swap out jewelry and not punch another hole in my body (for the moment), I figured I’d give this new one a go. And hey! If I was lucky, maybe it’d be a shop I’d feel comfortable getting a piercing at. Options are always a good thing.

I have to say, I was impressed – the shop was beautiful. It was a pretty decent size, with an open reception area filled with cases of gorgeous jewelry. And the piercing room where one of the guys swapped out my studs was spacious, clean, and well-organized. All the things you want to see in a shop, and then some.

And the jewelry! I only saw a small portion of their selections, since I had already figured out what I wanted: two flat gold studs to nestle into my nose. But the jewelry I picked out and what I saw in the case was STUNNING. If I had money, I probably would have gotten several new holes just to house those beautiful little pieces of art. Absolutely gorgeous.

The staff  at Haven was great: helpful and professional. The girl working the counter listened to what I wanted and showed me exactly what I was looking for. And the piercer who swapped out the jewelry for me was very nice – told me exactly what he needed me to do and was done in no time at all.

So if you happen to be in western Massachusetts and are looking for a quality piercing studio – check out Haven Body Arts. They’ll help you get what you’re looking for.

Because me? I couldn’t be happier! The vision I had always had for myself with nose piercings was FINALLY a reality. It couldn’t have looked more perfect!

This goes to show you – don’t let anyone talk you out of your vision for yourself. Body modification is all about making yourself into what YOU want to be – not what anyone else thinks you should do. Especially potentially snooty counter girls who should be working to make you happy – not judge your piercing and jewelry choices.

The Piercing Itch I Just Can’t Scratch

There is a piercing I desperately want and most likely, probably, almost certainly will never get. 

I adore labret piercings. Love them. Can’t get enough. Though after the initial piercing healed, I would definitely substitute a ring for the original curved barbell.

For those I’m losing in some of the technical elements, let me back up. A labret piercing, very loosely defined, is any piercing attached to the lip. However, it usually means a piercing centered below the bottom lip and above the chin.

What I’m crazy about I think would be considered a vertical labret. This means that a curved barbell would be used to fit around the lower lip. Centered along the lower lip, the piercing goes just below the bottom of the lower lip and comes out to rest above the top of the lower lip. Some even seem to exit through the bottom lip, but I personally would not choose to do that.  Here are some examples of what I’m talking about.

So despite my love for this piercing, especially when the initial barbell is replaced with a nice silver ring, I don’t see myself ever indulging in this piercing. Here’s why:

  1. I tend to bite my lower lip a lot. I find myself doing so when I’m stressed or concentrating on something, or when I’m being coy. And having a piercing there, especially when it’s healing, would cause some problems.
  2. Taking care of a labret piercing means taking care of an oral AND surface piercing. This means cleaning it two different ways. Knowing myself, I would get lazy once the initial healing started and would have some major problems to deal with down the line.
  3. I’m not sure if it would mess up my bottom teeth. My parents waved goodbye to a LOT of money so I would have the nice smile I wear today, and I would not want to mess that up after everything they did for me.
    (Additionally, my parents are not the biggest fan of facial piercings. And while that wouldn’t completely prevent me from getting one, it would be a double slap in their faces if it messed up the teeth they lost so much money on.)
  4. I like kissing. QUITE a bunch. And lemme tell ya, I have some quality full lips – perfectly kissable and perfect for kissing. Just saying. Though I’m in love with the image of a beautiful silver ring wrapping around my fat bottom lip, I’m not sure if I’d be willing to sacrifice their kissability for aesthetics .
  5. I’m a Communication major, which hopefully means that someday I’ll land a job in critical media production. Which leaves the possibility open that I may be a spokesperson for my future/potential organization or cause someday. And unless current attitudes around piercings and professionalism change quite a bit, there’s a good chance I won’t be taken seriously and could damage the advancement of my organization and cause.

There are a lot of factors I’m considering, and at the moment they’re all holding me back from dashing to a piercing parlor and decorating my lip. But maybe someday, when I’m a little older and a little more established, I’ll shout ‘The heck with it!’ and find out if my dream piercing is everything I ever hoped and wished it would be.

Tattoos and Piercings are BFF’s

I am a piercing enthusiast without a single tattoo. And that makes me feel really strange sometimes.

Piercings and tattoos are like PB&J; the just are meant to be. Yet despite having a dozen piercings and plans for more in the (hopefully) near future, I have no solid plans for tattoos.

Don’t get me wrong, I think tattoos are fascinating. There have been many a day where I browse the internet, spending way too many hours just looking at wonderful body art and tattoo designs.

(I mean, check the saturated colors and detail in this – beautiful!)

And I love chatting with my friends about potential tattoo plans. But always, my friends are like, “This is so totally going to happen when I can/ when I have money”. But for me, I’m always like, “This would be really awesome, but I don’t know if I’ll do it”.

And you know? I’m not really sure WHY I haven’t had a tattoo I wanted to commit myself to (and have it committed to me, I guess). I mean, I’ve committed to so many piercings, it would only seem logical that I would find some sort of ink I wanted too.

It’s not any sort of health or medical issue that’s holding me back. As I found out and explained in a previous post, tattoos are easier to manage than piercings when it comes to healing and aftercare. So that’s not it.

And it’s not that I don’t like how tattoos look, but I LOVE it. I think there’s something almost magical in having this solid image or pattern or color on your skin, but having it flex and sway and move as your flesh pulls and your body moves. It’s almost mesmerizing.

I think it could be that I feel too young or too unresolved. I don’t feel like enough life has happened to me yet, despite the different trails and struggles life has handed me. I don’t know if life has impacted me so much that I want an imprint of it on my skin. Granted, there have been things that have shaped me as a person, things that I will never forget. But those are things I’m not sure I want to commemorate on my body, or are too abstract to begin to figure out how to express them as an image on my skin.

Maybe an idea I have floating around in my head will solidify into a definite ‘yes, I want this,’ someday. Maybe something so monumental will happen to me, or an idea so powerful will slam into me that I’ll need to record it on my body. But I think until then, I’ll just continue admiring and dreaming.

A Look into Piercing History and Culture