Body Piercing: Reclamation, Enhancement, and Self-Expression

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Body Piercing:

Reclamation, Enhancement, and Self-Expression


Jason C. Hillman

In America the practice of body piercing is everywhere, especially among young people. who are getting several parts of their bodies pierced either as an affirmation of their personal individuality, as a means of sexual gratification or stimulation, a reclamation of their bodies from physical or emotional trauma, or for as a means of adornment. Whateverthe reason, it's widespread. Body piercing is the piercing of the ears, nose, septum, cheeks, lip, tongue, nipples, navel, clitoris, labia, penis, and scrotum. Says California State University anthropologist James Myers, Ph.D. body piercing is "possibly as old as genus Homo." (Todd, Richard, p.1) Body piercing studios are popping up all over the country in a response to the growing demand for having a needle poked through your skin. Contrary to popular belief, body piercing is not being performed by freakish subculture deviants. In order to be a reputable piercer one has to take a rigorous course of education in the principals and methods of body piercing. This is a step toward the acceptance of body piercing in mainstream America, where it is still viewed with mistrust by many. Body piercing allows a person to express their individuality in a new way: by putting a needle through yourself, you mark your body as your own (Delaney, Jim, p.3). By exploring some of the motivations behind body piercing, onediscovers that it's not an unhealthy practice (unless performed in an unsterile environment or the piercing is not adequately cared for by the piercee- both of which are heavily discouraged by piercing advocates). Indeed, body piercing is a healthy way to express your individuality or improve your self image.

In the nineties, more and more young people are sporting rings through various parts of their bodies. This is known as body piercing, and it has made a considerable imprint on young people. Body piercing is the practice of piercing the ears, eyebrows, tongue, nose, septum, lip, cheek, nipples, navel or genitals for varied reasons. It's becoming more and more common: Body piercing shops are cropping up all over the country and business is booming. Says piercer Kent Fazekas, who owns Indianapolis-based Body Accents Inc, " ...I think it's here to stay." (Eckert, Toby, 1) The practice of body piercing among young Americans is part of a quest for individuality. Brooklyn body piercing studio Modern American Bodyarts owner Keith Alexander says piercing is "...experimentation with the one thing you truly own: your body." (Keith, Alexander, p.1) Body piercing is their way of saying that they do not want to be like everybody else on the planet. Of course, the reason for body piercing also carries other connotations such as rites of passage and sexual gratification. Still, the body piercing movement is gaining momentum throughout America. It's not at all uncommon to see pierced navels and noses anymore, even in largely conservative regions like Indiana. And young people are feeling the need to be individuality-minded in the fast paced nineties. It's a conscious effort to repudiate the conservative mindset of their parent's generation by differing from that which is said to be normal in our society. This is where piercing comes in. When the piercing movement first started to gain momentum in the eighties it was frowned upon as a method of body ornamentation practiced only by "deviants". This is partially due to the popularity of piercing in gay and Sado-Masochist circles (Leo, John p.2). But now piercing is done for different reasons. Many teenagers get pierced during their college years, mainly because they are away from their homes and therefore don't have to worry about parental reaction. Indeed, some piercers say that piercing is becoming part of the college experience (Howard, Dylan, p.1). Many young people enjoy piercings in body parts other than their ears, especially in the nose...
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