Body Art in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

December 12, 2009

The female Jedi of  Star Wars really kick ass.

While watching a recent episode of Star Wars The Clone Wars, I was struck by the abundant body art on many of the characters.  It  had me speculating on the origin and significance.

I don’t know if there is a formal ideology or more explanation for the art; but I wouldn’t be surprised–perhaps someone nerdier than me can tell me.  I can tell you that several of the characters bear obvious tattoos,  brands, body paint, or similar graphic symbols on their skin. Maybe the animators just enjoy drawing them that way.    (Yes, I do realize these are just cartoon characters.).

Barriss Offee

Sparkling like Diamonds

Diamond shaped tattoos seem to be a theme.  Barriss Offee and her mentor, Luminara Unduli, have what appear to be tribal tattoos. (There are good pics of Ashoka Tano and Luminara Unduli on this page.) Barriss has a scattering of diamond-shaped markings across her face and her hands, and Master Unduli has facial markings on her chin similar to a Maori moko. (Moko @ Wikipedia).

Ashoka Tano

Obi-Wan’s padawan, Ahsoka Tano, has very interesting facial markings, but it is unclear to me exactly what they are.  Are they organic, similar to tiger stripes?  Perhaps they are white body paint, or battle paint, but they seem to be inherent.  I wonder if that blue striped and green coiffure is cosmetic or hair or an appendage or what.  She seems to be of the long appendagy-type people like Jabbas’ lieutenant, who appeared to have filed his teeth.  (You can tell this post is really well researched, eh?)  Whether the white markings on the cheeks, above the eyes, and on the forehead are painted on or not, they are very striking.

There are other examples of this predilection for body art in the Star Wars franchse.  In the episode  I saw recently, in which Ahsoka and Barriss try to penetrate a droid factory, at least one of the male characters had a forehead marking (a brand?). Come to think of it, Princess Amidala was fond of elaborate geisha-like makeup with a ritualized markings.  And then there are the markings and horns on Darth Maul.  I haven’t seen any piercings yet on the denizens of that galaxy, but they may be out there.

My poor drawings do not do these much more talented animators justice, so be sure to check out what these characters really look like by going to the official Star Wars site. You can watch episodes of The Clone wars and see for yourself.   You’ll notice that one of the header pictures on this link is of a female character with spiral dot tattoos on her shoulder.

All these dots and diamonds remind me of these awesome dot tattoos I found on Flickr. Dotwork Tattoos by Damian. I’d say there’s a convergence between art and life!

Image above from Crave. Drawings belong to me.  Star Wars and Clone Wars belong to George Lucas.


Art from My Body

November 29, 2009

In honor of The Pierced Consumer’s one-year anniversary, I’ve been doing some cleanup and some tinkering.

I’m excited to add the Flickr widget, which will show the latest photos from myFlickr account.  It’s not very flexible, they seem to be added as I add them.  They show up on the right, under the links and stuff.

Right now I did a series of photos from my own tattoos with my iPhone.  The iPhone is notorious for having a crappy camera, but you can do some really cool things with it regardless.  I think this set came out really fantastic! Check out my Flickr stuff here:

Art from My Body by Cloud.

More Meta

–I’ve also changed my header, as  you can see.  That’s my beautiful Maya Organic “Earn Your Wings” earrings which I’ll probably feature more once I can wear them, lol!

–Edited the About Page and added new  photo of me getting pierced at the bottom.

–Overhauled the Body Piercing Basics Page, with new photos and new blurbs.

–The “Links” and sidebar were getting too cluttered, so all the links are now consolidated under “Click Here.”

–am trying out the cloud tags.  Appropriate, don’t you think?

–finally, I’ve added a widget to my delicious bookmarks.  I’m still tinkering with this!  The first one you’ll see there (right this minute) is a gallery I did of black and white body art that uses other people’s photos.  Since most of these are not using creative commons licenses, please click the link:

Gallery:  Body Art in Black and White


There’s an App for that?

August 5, 2009


I love my iPhone; I do.  But if there’s an app for everything–as the ads claim–then why isn’t there an app for keeping track of one’s piercings? I think that would be great, considering it’s so hard to keep track of stuff like:

  • –When did I get it?
  • –Where?
  • –How much did it cost?
  • –How much did my jewelry cost?
  • –What gauge? Length? Diameter? Material? Manufacturer?

It is so hard to remember that stuff, and so very necessary when it comes to jewelry changes.  However, a check of the App Store for piercing shows a dismal lack of useful applications for us.

There’s one–iLocate–Body Piercing, which touts, “There is nothing like finding a new body piercing store just when you need it.”  Right.  It’s nothing but a “find it” application, showing you the names and addresses of the nearest tattoo shops.  Okay, it has maps, but it’s the same as Google Maps, Google, Where, or other similar applications.  Oh, and it costs $0.99.

The other things that popped up were things like, “Sexy Girls,” “Perfect Girls,” and “Hot Sport Girls.”  Hmm.  Not very useful for me.

A search for “tattoo” in the app store shows once again piercing is the poorer cousin in terms of body art. There’s “Tattoo Shop” which lets you add a tattoo to any photo in your gallery.  (“Ink yourself, your grandma, even your pets!”)  “Tattoo of the Day” which lets you download new tattoos being done at New York Adorned; several wallpaper and Japanese tattoo applications; and of course, the aforementioned, Hot Girls, Sexy Babes, et al.  Still, at least some of these are a bit cooler than the iLocate one for piercings.

Get your thinking caps on!

So, I say to all you geeky modified entrepreneurs out there–here’s a golden opportunity. Make an application for a gauge card, or a jewelry keeper, or a piercing of the day; or a healing progress chart.  How about a virtual piercing app, where you could try out different piercings on a photo of your body?


May 5, 2009

I want to point out a couple of items of interest today:

Listen: Angel Podcast

Jordan Ginsberg at BME has written a review of The Piercing Bible, and  interviewed Elayne Angel in podcast format.  The podcast is kinda long, but worth listening to.  Angel talks about the book, about Katrina and moving to Mexico, and most interesting to me, a lot about modern body piercing history.  You can find all this at BME here:  Elayne Angel Podcast and Book Review.

Donate: BME Scholarship

Speaking of BME, they are urgently seeking donations–even of $10–for the college scholarship they give to one deserving member, based on essay submissions.  Times are tough, of course, and always pretty tough for college students, but this is a worthy cause. Here’s a message from the scholarship administrator:

I’m sending you this message because right now, the BME Scholarship Fund really needs your help. With two months to go before we award the scholarship, we have $109.58 sitting in our account. Several people who have given us a lot of help in the past have agreed to donate again this year, but even with their support we’re still going to come up short.

We need your help.

If you can help out with even a $10US or $20US donation, or become a major donor for $25US or more, it would go a long way to help us help a bright, hardworking college student make their dreams a reality. In addition, those who give $25US or more to the BME Scholarship Fund will also have the opportunity to help us read all the essays, judge the applicants, and help us select this year’s winner.

You can find out all about it, and make your donation, at

ETA:  Okay, I donated $25.  Paypal makes it easy.  How about you?


Reach Out and Poke Someone

May 2, 2009



I’d like to highlight the remarkable and important work that the APP (Association of Professional Piercers) has done in educational outreach.

It seems that every issue of their journal, The Point, has a report about their participation in events designed to educate and inform, but if you don’t read The Point regularly, you might not be aware of it.  Representatives of the APP make regular appearances at national public health and nursing conferences, spicing up convention centers and educating about body piercing.  They make their own conference (going on next week!) available free of tuition to health inspectors.  And they have stepped up their international outreach efforts, too, trying to boost all piercers’ professionalism, and educate as many groups as possible about safe body piercing practices.  Along with educating piercers themselves, this is the other, very important task the APP has set itself.

Consider this quote from Didier Suarez, who recently attended the American Public Health Associaton conference in San Diego:

. . . many attendees were unaware of the dangers of ear-piercing guns; that they cannot be sterilized, that the jewelry is an inferior material, and that a blunt stud is used to puncture the tissue.  Just that information was an eye-opener to almost every attendee I spoke with personally.

And these attendees were medical professionals,  public health workers, educators, and students.  These are pretty important segments of the population to educate about body piercing!  Other conferences which the APP appears at include those of the American College Health Association (ACHA) and the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA) and the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA). (I’m sure there’s an important nursing conference, too, but right now I can’t find it.)

Here’s the link to the latest issue of The Point (.pdf), from which the above quote comes from.  The Point is always worth reading, and I notice the online version has all color pictures, which is nice: The Point Spring 09

I don’t know if this kind of outreach is unique in the body modification world; the above-quoted article suggests that the conference attendees were hungry for tattooing information, too, but that there were no similar efforts by tattoo professionals.  Connections have also been made with international body art conferences, such as the Italian association of piercers and tattooers (APTPI) and the BMXNet events in Germany.  I like that the Italian conferences end in a “traditional debate of the . . . Board members and Conference Participants,” (The Point, Vol. 38 p. 6).  That sounds . . . lively.

I do know that the APP has been involved in an extraordinary exchange of information in the recent annual conferences in Mexico. There’s a huge interest in piercings in Mexico and Latin America, and the APP has been running conferences in Mexico City for the last few years, despite many obstacles, not the least being the language difference.  From reading the descriptions in The Point, the piercers and public health officials there soak up the educational offerings like sponges. (The APP is really stepping up their efforts in the Spanish language in the US, too, making classes and brochures available in that language.)  Danny Yerma, of Wakantanka in Mexico City, is the International Outreach Coordinator and he’s a fantastic piercer, who has produced his own body art magazine in Mexico and really worked hard to get the word out in that country.

Now that would be an interesting conference to go to!  And, by coincidence, I happen to speak Spanish pretty well.  I wouldn’t want to go alone, but if I could find someone to go with me, I’d love to volunteer at that one.  As long as they lick that pesky swine flu thing, of course.

As you can see, there’s a lot of public education still needing to  be done.  I wish all Pierced Consumers could do more in that endeavor. I like to think that what I do is a kind of outreach, but I’d love to have an APP presence in my town.  Maybe I’ll look into Border Health conferences; there’s got to be something . . .

I know some piercers who have problems with the politics of the APP (committee politics is never fun), or their very strict and rather expensive membership rules, or who simply are not joiners.  But piercees can support these outreach and educational efforts without worrying about all that, either directly, by volunteering at the APP conference, by doing outreach in your community, or monetarily.  The APP website has a page which says you can make tax-deductible donations and get various rewards (bumper sticker, video) at various levels (though I don’t know anyone who does this).  You can also sign up to be a Patron Member for dues of $50 annually.

Even if you’re not a fan of the APP or don’t have the money, sometimes outreach for all of us is as simple as answering a friend’s questions, or recommending a really good piercer.  So think about spreading the point.


ETA: I think I’m channeling the APP because I’m missing the conference this year.  I also forgot to explicitly express my appreciation to all the volunteers and staff at the APP who make the above-described outreach possible.  Thanks!

Pic courtesy of Jam343 at Flickr.


Just an old-fashioned ramble

May 1, 2009


In lieu of an actual, well-thought out post (or a love song) here are some odds and ends.

Oh, CSI last night . . . body modification takes another hit.  Expect a full post on this one, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

I see Jared from One Tribe is back from his trip to Indonesia, because he’s commented.  Take a look especially at his comment on the Making Body Jewelry post, in which he talks about the company that was featured, the question of fair trade jewelry, and jewelry ethics.    I expect some great blog posts over at One Tribe, as well as some fantastic jewelry from him, as always.  Jared also posted that they are planning to open an implant grade only, piercing studio. Woo!

More blogs: Marisa from Needled has started a new tattoo blog, Needles & Sins. I don’t know what happened there, but all I can say is I wish I had a stable of contributors!  I also have come across some more body modification blogs, like this one: Multi-Colored, which has some thoughtful content, and this one, ToddBlog, which is pretty new, and doesn’t seem to have an About page yet, but might be worth checking out.

I just ran across a comment on another blog post (Absurd Body Piercings) which has me shaking my head:

I think a vaginal piercing says something negative about you. Cough cough, you’re a slut, cough. Guys are different, though. If you want your dick pierced it’s alright, but a vaginal piercing isn’t cool. It’s just the way it is. Anyone who disagrees, that’s fine. It’s my opinion!

Well, it may be your opinion, honey, but it’s an ignorant one.  Talk about a double standard!

Remember the unfortunate tattoo I highlighted in my post on Bellydancers and Body Art? Well, word finally got around to the dancer in question and she made a comment that she was embarrassed by my post.  I don’t blame her, really, since my language was pretty strong.  I wish to reiterate that this was my personal reaction and opinion, and that my intent was not to belittle her, but to point out that it’s a good idea for everyone, and especially for public figures and performers, to consider how their tattoos look to others, and from a distance.

That’s enough for now.  Let me just say that recovering from abdominal surgery Is.Not.Fun.  Although I think I’m doing okay, at 3 weeks plus now, I’m dealing with a host of minor but unpleasant, and personal symptoms.  I’d like to blame my not posting on this, but I’m really just a lazy slug.  Plus, I wanted to leave the interview with Angel about The Piercing Bible up for a while.  I hope you’ve all bought your copies!

Pic is my kitty Ivan’s nether regions.  He thinks he’s hiding.


April 6, 2009

13. IMG_1050.JPG

Is it taboo? Or is it just . .

Body modification?

“Over the ages, people have squeezed, stretched, and even mutilated themselves for their cultural group.”  National Geographic’s series, “Taboo” is, I think, in it’s third season.  If you’re not familiar with it, it’s definitely worth a look.  The series covers all sorts of extreme practices including, of course, body art.  Here is National Geographic’s main page on the show, and here’s a sample:

The latest episode, “Bizarre Bodies” highlights individuals who are extreme body art collectors and artists, including a man who is having the whites of his eyeballs tattooed (pictured above), a young girl getting horns in her forehead, and the art of extreme corsetry.  I was very interested in the scenes where the newly modded people showed their family members their new art.    The young girl with the horns showed her dad, who was very disapproving.  “You just hurt yourself again.”  The guy with the eye tattoing went home to show his wife and mother-in-law, who were interested, if a bit shell-shocked.   But even though their responses varied, what struck me was the sense of accomplishment, pride, and delight shared by the modded people themselves.  It’s this feeling that I think doesn’t translate well into words, and that is a major part of body modification for a lot of people, including me.  Even when their nearest and dearest Just.Don’t.Understand.


I like the show . . . and I don’t.  It’s valuable for appreciating the wide range of body modification practices world wide, like the neck rings of these Burmese tribal women, and the traditional moko (chin tattoo) of the Maori people of New Zealand.  It is valuable because it shows that widespread practices such as plastic surgery are body modification too.  However, the narration is done in a breathlessly hyperbolic style which gushes.  “And he’s doing it with [gush] no anesthetic! [heavyemphasis] but he insists he felt no discomfort at all!”  Nevertheless, it’s a very well-presented, informative series, that should be on every body art aficionado’s playlist.


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