Reach Out and Poke Someone

May 2, 2009

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Outreach

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.

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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.

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What’s The Point?

December 30, 2008

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The Point is the Association of Professional Piercers’ main member publication, and it’s an invaluable resource for anyone interested in body piercing.

All the issues can be found in .pdf format on the APP’s website.  Go to:  For Piercers and Their Advocates->Publications->The Point.

Since they are in .pdf format, they take a while to load, and you have to scroll down to read the articles, but they’re worth it!

Take a look!

For more resources on body piercing, take a look at my Books & Refs page.


Writing about body piercing–I’m doing it wrong

December 27, 2008
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doing it wrong

Oh Noes!

I don’t think James Weber, of Infinite Body Piercing in Philadelphia, likes bloggers.  He said, in a call for writers, that blogging isn’t enough, and that the preponderance of interview-style writings fosters an ego-centric atmosphere. In Issue 41 of the Point, he writes:

“Is it any wonder that we are an industry populated by huge egos?”

I don’t wonder–body piercing is, in the simplest sense,  about personal adornment and self-expression.  It’s hard to get away from ego when discussing the topic.

So I’m happily blogging away, doing interviews, thinking I’m so clever.  As I’m on vacation this week, and healing piercings, I’m laying about reading back issues of The Point, when I re-read this article.  Oh, shit, I think–I’m not doing it right.

In his opinion piece in, Jim also says some wonderful things:

Piercing–and all body modification–defies language and vocabulary.  Essentially, if we could verbalize or write about what it is we do, we wouldn’t need to do it.

I agree that there’s something transcendent and indescribable about body piercing.  That’s why our passion for piercing isn’t something that we can communicate well to our families and friends who just don’t get it.

Jim Weber has a point, though–most of the articles written about piercings are about us, not from us.  Although I’m sympathetic to Mr. Weber’s call for authors, and I’ve thought about submitting articles for magazines, it seems I could never come up with a worthy topic.   Yet I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of this blog format, so I guess I’m going to keep rockin along the way I want to!

If you think I’m doing it wrong, let me know.  If you would like me to feature something (or someone), let me know.

Some Meta Notes

Although you may notice there’s no interview this week, I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.  Now that there’s some content to organize, I’m beefing up the pages and categories, including the reference pages, cross-linking, etc.

I’m also working on a bit about Mayan body piercing, and an aftercare series, coming soon.


Dazed and Confused 2

November 9, 2008

So, I promised you some tips on how to make sense of all the conflicting aftercare advice out there.

—  First, and most important, is to use your common sense, and pay attention to your body.  Keep in mind the basic goals: You want to keep your piercing clean and free of infection. During the healing phase, you are going to want to protect your piercing and promote healthy healing.

—  Don’t think you have to “do” anything to your piercing to get it to heal.  Your body does the healing, not anything you do to it or put on it.  Concentrate on your general health.

— Do your research.  The links on this blog are a great place to start.  Check out the aftercare guidelines, for example, at the Association of Professional Piercers’ site.  This link describes the “standard” aftercare, as much as anything is.

http://safepiercing.org/bodyAftercare.html

— Listen to a good, professional piercer you trust–if you can find one! Ask questions, find out why they are recommending a particular thing, and make up your own mind.  Even if that person’s recommended aftercare regime is a little different from the “standard,” if you trust that person and it seems right to you, go for it.

— One place NOT to get aftercare:  Your friends.  Sorry, but after listening to a gazillion “but my friend said I should do [random crazy thing] to it”–this is the source I would trust least.  Piercers get extremely frustrated when they find out that their customers ignore their carefully explained aftercare instructions in favor of their friends’ crappy advice, and I don’t blame them.

— Remember, there is no one, right way.  People’s bodies are different–their habits, health, and environments differ.  What works for your best friend or your boyfriend in another state, or even for most people, may not be right for you.  The right way for you is the one that lets your piercing heal the fastest with a minimum of discomfort and fuss.

Good luck!