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

–fin


Guest post: A Flowering of Sorts

April 8, 2009

pdbsg-picture-198Cloud invited me to guest blog (a major compliment), so I’ll try to keep this interesting.  She was the grand dame of Tribalectic when I first tentatively described my first piercing years ago, and she remains an ornery, insightful broad whose thoughts amuse, inspire, and inform.

My experience in the piercing community is that its members tend to be thoughtful, sensitive, even cautious.  Many, if not most, shows signs of empathy, and welcome whatever happiness or grief is re-membered, as in put back together, by their fellow community members.

By no means are all piercers or piercees suffering souls.  There are some folks just intersted in a better way to get off.  Will my tongue stud make her jizz?  You know what I mean.

But, there is that segment of the population which has been wounded in mind, or heart or spirit.  Something private and personal has been taken away, stolen, defiled.  It could be a beaten spouse.  It could be a raped adult or child.  It could be the jackass boss who never lets you be what you want to be.

When your identity has been stolen away, you can either give in or you can reclaim yourself.  Your pain is your pain.  How you ornament yourself is your choice.  Who you share yourself with is your choice. Piercing, for some, allows you to reclaim your body.  It’s mine, not yours you assmunch! In my eyes, this is a beautiful project a flowering of sorts, where you reclaim your body and let it grow from there.

Never let bad memories hold you back.

Namaste.

-pdbsg

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Taboo

April 6, 2009

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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.

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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.

fin

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Did you see that?

March 28, 2009

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Piercing as Architecture

Flickr has been my friend and assistant in my blogging venture.  You just never know what you’re going to find.  Like this pic of a building in downtown Torino Italy.  It’s pierced, and . . . it’s bleeding! This comes from agd82’s photostream, and this is the information that’s posted about the building:

You can see blood spilling from the piercing: red blood and blue one. The red one is supposed to come from normal people, the blue one from the aristocracy. This to show that in the past those building were rich aristocrats and now by common people.

And here I thought it was just an advertisement for a piercing studio, and it turns out to be social commentary. Some further digging indicates that this was an installation done by a group of young Turinese architects under the aegis of Corrado Levi, an Italian artist, architect, and professor. Pretty cool!

You can see another shot of it lit up at night here.

fin

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Two for Tuesday

March 24, 2009

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Yesterday, I had my biggest day of viewers on my blog so far,  so thanks to all my readers!


A couple of items for your reading pleasure today:

I got a nice note from a piercer in Newcastle, Australia, via my IAM page on BME, who said:

Hey Cloud. Your blog is really going well I see.  I want to say how much I enjoy checking it out. You  have a real way of conveying the information so its easy to understand. . .  An awesome resources site.  I have started to let my clients know about it. “

Wow.  I’m blushing! Thanks, Greg! So if any of you are reading me from Australia, give a shout out.

Second, for men with genital piercings, there’s a survey you can take part in. The group doing this survey is the same one which has done a study of VCH (Vertical Clitoral Hood) piercings in women, so it’s legit.

I urge you to support academic and scientific research about body piercing when you can, so here’s the link to participate in this survey:

Men With Genital Piercings Survey

It’s my understanding that it’s composed of basic questions about piercing and your lifestyle. Thanks once again to Elayne Angel for posting about this study on her blog.  I’m waiting with bated breath for the book’s  release, Elayne!

Thanks to Tambako the Jaguar for the lemurs!

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On the Younger Side Part 3: For Teens

March 22, 2009

Disclaimer:  I’m not a teen! And who wants unsolicited advice, anyway?  There’s a reason why Charlie Brown’s adults go, “WahWahWah” and you mostly see the grownups’ feet in E.T.

How Do I Convince My Parents to Let Me Get a Piercing?

Good question. And, unfortunately, I don’t know the answer.  As always, though, I do have a few thoughts on the subject.

My suggestions:

  • First, read How to Make Friends and Influence People,  by Dale Carnegie (Link to Google Book).  You can find it at any library.  Despite the cheesy title and dated anecdotes, the information and advice in that book is priceless.  I’m serious!
  • Try to negotiate with your parents, and be prepared to compromise.  Be calm.  Don’t whine.
  • Do your research, and present them with facts about piercings.  Be ready to answer their questions and counter their arguments.  Print out the FAQs  or the Piercee’s Bill of Rights from the Association of Professional Piercer’s website.
  • Show your parents you can be trusted with other stuff, and they’ll be more likely to trust you with this.
  • Use this time to plan, to ask questions.  There are several good discussion forums about piercings where the people will take the time to encourage you and respond to your concerns.  Learn about proper aftercare so you don’t get suckered by inappropriate recommendations from well-meaning friends or less-informed piercers.   Take a look at the resources on this site, or leave a comment here.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, back off and try again later.  Be patient.  Your body will survive without extra holes for a little while longer!.

Sadly, there will be parents who will never agree.  Some parents can be persuaded, others never will–too stubborn, too prideful, too religious, or just opposed.  Body piercing is not for everyone, and there are always people who react with revulsion or disgust no matter how old you are.

In fact, body piercing may not be for you, either,  so take some time to think about who you are and what your lifestyle is and will be.  Don’t be like the girl in Part 2 who stretched her ears at age 13, only to need surgery later when she wanted to enter the Air Force; or the young guy who had always wanted to be a fireman, only to be told he was disqualified because of his ear piercings.

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Some things to consider:

The key to getting a good piercing is to find the best, most experienced professional piercer you have access to.  Don’t settle for just anyone at the first tattoo studio you walk in to.  Reputable professional piercers will not pierce you without a parent’s permission, and will never pierce a minor’s nipples or genitals.

Who is going to pay for your piercing? Save some money or earn some extra cash so you can show your parents you are serious. Don’t use this an excuse to self pierce.  Who will pay for medical care if your piercing gets infected?

Good jewelry is not cheap, and you may need more than one piece.You should buy the best quality jewelry you can afford for your initial jewelry.  It isn’t cheap, but good quality jewelry makes a difference.  Implant grade stainless steel or titanium will protect you against most skin sensitivities.  Well-made jewelry is also highly polished and free from irregularities that could trap bacteria, and internally threaded and well-machined, well-fitting ends mean fewer lost balls and beads.

Don’t touch it; don’t play with it; and don’t change the jewelry too soon.  Leave the initial jewelry in as long as you can.  Just do sea salt soaks and keep it clean.  Never touch your piercing with dirty hands!

Don’t count on hiding it from your parents, your school, your coach, etc.  You need to keep the metal jewelry in there as long as possible while it’s healing, and even clear retainers are visible.  Taking it out and putting piercings back in for an activity, like sports, isn’t recommended either–that will only irritate the piercing and keep it from healing well.

What if I can’t get their permission?

If you can’t convince your parents, then your alternative is to wait until you are 18 or the age of majority in your location.

Please don’t pierce yourself!

It’s unsafe, because you don’t have the equipment to sterilize anything; you don’t have the knowledge or experience to get a good piercing, not to mention the awkwardness of trying to pierce yourself in a mirror, without leverage, or a good vantage point.  For more on this, here’ s my post on self-piercing.

When you at last own the rights to your own body, you can treat your piercing as a rite of passage. Make it mean something to you, and come out the other side a different person. Just know that parental disapproval (and concern) never goes away, even when you are adult, so you may be trying to hide that jewelry from grandma at age 30.  Some people will never understand.

***

This is the last in a series of posts on piercings by age group.  Here’s the list of the others:

Teens and Piercings: How to Avoid the Worst Case Scenario

On the Younger Side Part 1: Babies

Too Old for a Piercing?

And, for fun:  How to Sound Like the Charlie Brown Adults from Wikihow.

Thanks to mod complex at Flickr for the lip piercing pic.

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Teens and Piercings: How to Avoid the Worse-Case Scenario

March 21, 2009


On the Younger Side Part 2: For Parents

Jessica Bitner stretched her ear lobe piercings to about an inch when she was 13 years old.  Now she wants to join the the Air Force.  Oops.

She says now, “I love them, but when you get serious about your life, you can’t do stuff like that.”  Here’s a video from a CBS news story, about her plastic surgery to reconstruct her stretched lobes:

As unfortunate as this story is (and I can’t help but think how much her parents are paying for this surgery), this isn’t the worst-case scenario when it comes to teens and piercings.  That would be reserved for botched self-piercings, infected, neglected piercings, and family-come-to-blows piercings.

I love piercings; I think that’s very evident.  I can still remember (in the dim reaches of pre-history) wanting my ears pierced so very, very badly.  I begged my parents for years until they finally relented at age 15.  Not only did my Dad think it was “mutilation,” but there was a social stigma attached to ear piercing at that time.  My mother, in particular, regarded it as a low-class practice which only Catholics indulged in (and she did not like Catholics!)

Nevertheless, I don’t like to see very young people permanently alter their bodies with large piercings, like the young lady in the video, or with visible tattoos before they know for certain what their path in life is.

Most of the information you will find about teens and piercings is of the sort I term “health class” information, i.e., piercings are bad, piercings are a fad they will grow out of, teens are just rebellious.  This kind of information, and there are several books about it, is not what I’m offering here, because I’m not part of the PTA, a health care worker, or anything else like that, and again, I love piercings.

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For Parents

Note: It’s  not my intention to tell anyone how to raise their own children.  Just like with the babies’ post, if you are a parent, I encourage you to do your own research and make up your own mind about what is appropriate for you and your family.  The following represents only my own personal opinion.  (And a further note:  if you have babies or very young children, you can read my post about them here.)

If you are lucky, your son or daughter has come to you asking for permission to get a piercing; say, a nostril piercing or a navel.  You may think piercings are a stupid teen fad, are gross, unsanitary, or will just mar your precious little baby’s body.  Whether or not this describes you, I urge you to consider your response carefully. You do not want your child to go behind your back and pierce himself, or to a friend or non-reputable piercer who pierces in an unsafe manner, which is what may happen if you are unlucky, or your attitude makes you unapproachable.

Some things for you to consider:

  • Acknowledge that it’s normal for teens to want to be different than their parents and that they will experiment with style.  Relax and let them express themselves.
  • Most piercings can be removed with no more permanent consequences than a small hole, scar, or divot.  (Large gauge piercings or stretched piercings are another story.)
  • It’s true that piercings have more inherent risks than changing hairstyles or clothes, but with a little bit of knowledge, these risks can be minimized.
  • Lobe piercings heal quickly and are fairly forgiving of mistreatment.  This is NOT the case with most body piercings, including cartilage and navel piercings. These piercings can take many months to heal all the way through.
  • Piercings need regular cleaning and care throughout their existence.
  • If you are presented with a fait accompli, and your progeny shows up with a lip ring or eyebrow piercing, or something similar, watch for signs of infection.  Keep in mind that removing jewelry completely from an infected piercing isn’t a good idea, because it can trap the infection underneath the skin with no place to drain, creating an abcess.

Is your kid ready for a piercing?

Is it something they want and are willing to care for?  If they are considering any other piercing than lobes, they must be capable and willing to engage in an appropriate aftercare routine.   This means regular cleaning and soaking for the first few weeks, and maintenance care thereafter.  If your kid keeps up with routine hygiene tasks without being nagged, like brushing their teeth, cleaning their ears, keeping fingernails clean, and bathing regularly, they can probably be trusted to care for a piercing.  Take a look at the picture below:

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I like this picture of a Japanese Cosplay girl, but almost didn’t use it, because a close up look shows that the piercings are not clean.  (You can get a closer look at  theeruditefrog’s Photostream at Flickr.)  Although I don’t think piercings are disgusting, of course, I do think uncared for, unclean piercings are! Piercees, no matter what their ages, need to be meticulous about their personal hygiene and clean their piercings regularly.  Can your child be counted on to do this?

They must also have enough self-discipline and patience to Leave It The Heck Alone.  This means not touching it (especially with dirty hands!); not messing with or playing with it; and not changing the jewelry too soon!

Some Practical Advice:

DO NOT LET YOUR CHILD GET PIERCED WITH A PIERCING GUN. Just don’t–it’s not safe.  Those things were created for tagging cattle–they inflict blunt force trauma on the wound, the design of the jewelry traps bacteria near the wound, and most of all, the piercings gun can not be sterilized.  Even if they have “single use” cartridges, the plastic part of the gun itself cannot be sterilized and is often just thrown into a drawer.  Go to a professional piercer! A reputable, professional piercer will only pierce a minor with parental consent and presence.  Yes, this means venturing out of your comfort zone and actually entering a tattoo or piercing studio.  It can be intimidating, but you can do it!

Use the carrot and stick approach.  Negotiate with your child for positive behaviors and use a piercing as a reward.  Realize that all  people want control over their lives and their bodies, and you are empowering your teen by allowing them to have control over their bodies.

Proper jewelry for healing piercings is not cheap.  Buy good quality jewelry from a reputable piercer for starting jewelry.  The jewelry that a teen can buy at the mall, at Hot Topic for example, is not good quality and should only be used after initial healing is completed.  (I wouldn’t use it even then, but I’m trying to be realistic here.)  Understand that sometimes jewelry needs to be adjusted for proper fit and healing, and that may mean another trip to the piercer, and another piece of jewelry.  Accordingly;

Discuss money issues with your teen. Let them save money from their allowance or earn their own money for the piercing. One of the main excuses for kids to pierce themselves is they have no money for a proper piercer and jewelry. Unfortunately, a trip to the emergency room for an infected piercing costs far more.

Do your research about piercings, and encourage your son or daughter to do likewise.  The single most important thing to do to ensure a successful piercing experience is to educate yourself.  Check out the Body Piercing Basics, resources, books and refs, and links on this blog.  At a minimum, review the info on choosing a piercer and Piercee’s Bill of Rights posted by the Association of Professional Piercers.

Pretty much all that is needed for aftercare is sea salt and mild soap.  Hygiene is key! Do not let your child put stuff on it–no ointment, hydrogen peroxide, “ear care solution,” or, heaven forbid–Bactine!

It’s normal for a new piercing to be swollen, irritated, or red. You have to keep close watch for signs of infection, however, which requires diagnosis and treatment by a physician.

And finally try to relax about it!  The majority of teens who get into piercing do actually grow out of it.  On the other hand, some of us never do . . .

Yes, there will be a part 3 to this “Piercings On the Younger Side” series, for the teens. Pic above is from Shekynah’s Photostream at Flickr.  I don’t know how old she is, but I just chose that one ’cause she’s pretty!

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