After reading my posts on tattoos and piercings, I am certain that you are curious: you must be wondering where this is going. When I started writing, I had a good idea of where I’d end. However, as I’ve written these posts, I’ve wondered if I’ve presented a contradictory viewpoint. And, I’ve come to the conclusion that my personal opinions are not as “liberal” as I thought, and I’ve journeyed to someplace I didn’t think I’d go.
Typical piercings, for the most part, don’t bother me. Personally, I would define a typical piercing as ears (including cartilage), nostril (but not through the septum), eyebrow, navel, lip and tongue. Of course, I may have missed something, but I think you understand my thoughts. Some of the jewelry that is placed in those piercings is extreme (in my opinion) and that is where my level of acceptance diminishes. Let me be clear, it is not an acceptance of the individual, but an acceptance of the piercings. And I am curious, in the case of gauges, how someone could do that to their body. A friend, who posted a comment on my Facebook page regarding my post on gauges, has a daughter who has removed her gauges and remarked that the earlobe does seem to return to its original state (mostly) when given time. However, I do wonder if that is the case, when the gauges are large enough to reach the shoulder.
When I reflect on my inward reactions to the “extreme” piercings and jewelry, I realize that I do have some difficulties getting beyond the appearance of the person. It isn’t that I am necessarily making generalizations about people with piercings or have preconceived notions about who they are. I think that it is more that I have difficulties understanding how, in their own quest for individuality, they ended up instituting such a drastic change in their appearance. Are they attempting to push the norms of society? Are they showing their uniqueness? Or do they just find their appearance, with piercings, to be aesthetically pleasing?
The other portion of my thought relates to the passage of time. Will they someday change their mind and be unable to return their body to a state that is more mainstream in society? Do the young people making the decision to pierce their bodies even consider that possibility?
It is truly a complex issue both for mainstream society and the people choosing to get piercings.
If you go back a re-read what I’ve written regarding piercings, you can generally replace the word piercing with tattoo and I think it still expresses my beliefs. However, when writing about the lady at the airport, I discovered something very interesting. For all my insistence on eliminating double standards for men and women, I have prejudicial beliefs regarding men and women and tattoos.
I’m not saying that I believe women shouldn’t get tattoos. But, in the past it has been much more acceptable for men to have them. For example, men who were enlisted had tattoos, were in biker gangs, or worked in construction. I realize these are stereotypes, but they have been commonly held in society and I am using them to explain my thought process and prejudices. Women, that wanted to be considered ladies, would never dream of getting a tattoo. Many women who got tattoos picked small designs and placed them in areas where they could be covered up. As they became more popular and more women got tattoos, they still weren’t considered something that ladies did, as evidenced by the slang term for a tattoo on a woman’s lower back: “tramp stamp.”
At the airport, I realized that I made assumptions about the lady with all the tattoos based on the fact that they covered much of her upper body, neck and face. If it had been a man, I believe that I would have been less judgmental. This is not to say that I would have treated them differently; I would have treated both of them with respect. However, in my mind it was more acceptable for a man to have tattoos covering his body. Why? I’m not sure that I can say that it is simply a double standard. It is a complex mixture of intertwined beliefs. While I wholeheartedly agree that a woman can do anything that a man can do, society still has differing expectations. Somehow I’ve bought into those expectations with the ideal woman being one who does not have her body covered in artwork.
As I said, I didn’t expect to be here. I didn’t expect that this post would have me reconsidering my ideas regarding gender expectations in relation to tattoos. I feel that acceptance is something that is important, especially when people are different. I am surprised at my discovery regarding my personal prejudices in relation too this topic.
I do not believe that anyone should be judged on their outward appearance. I do not agree with some of the choices people make when getting piercings and tattoos, but I respect that it is their right to make those choices. I respect that it is their right even though I do not understand their choices. I believe these things and they are part of who I am and who I want to be. How have my own beliefs and my prejudices managed to collide creating such a contradiction? I’m really not sure. What I do know is that I’ve discovered I am not quite the person I thought that I was as I am not a accepting as I profess to be. And I wonder, what would my mother think about the duality of my beliefs? I believe I have to do some additional self-reflection and work to change my personal perceptions. I believe that my mother would think that I was on the right path and she would be proud of who I am and who I want to be.