Body modifications represent individuality


Erica Gudino, Editor-in-Chief

Everyone has a different form of self expression, whether that’s fashion sense or humor. However, some choose tattoos and piercings which, although painful, serve as tools of self-expression.
Junior Shannon Aguilar, who has 10 piercings and 13 tattoos, many she did herself, says that her body modifications make her a walking museum where she can wear her story without having to tell it.
“I like the idea of body modifications because it shows [people] that this is my body, and I’m able to do what I want with it,” Aguilar said.“My favorite tattoo is the one for my cousin [who passed away]. It is a heart that goes into a heart rate, and then it flat lines. It has his name and the day that he died on it. It’s to remind me every day of who he was as a person.”
Junior Bethany Ramey, who got her first piercing at 14, says that she second-guesses her decision before she gets her piercings, but then she overcomes that fear and goes for it. She has five piercings, including her tongue and smiley.
“I think piercings show a different sense of somebody and [show the] different levels of pain they can handle; that makes them who they are,” Ramey said. “I don’t really care about the pain much.”
English teacher Lindell Palmer, who has two cartilage piercings, says what he likes most about piercings is that they aren’t permanent.
“You can change your look or commemorate an event in your life, but you’re not stuck with it,” Palmer said. “I enjoy art in general, so I find that piercings and tattoos are art forms, but with piercings you’re not as committed to it. I’ve had several piercings, throughout the years, usually to commemorate an important time in my life that I want to remember.”
Even though piercings and tattoos are creative ways to express oneself, there is always a possibility of complications. Ramey advises anyone who is thinking about getting a piercing to research how to care for them.
“Your skin could be sensitive, and if you irritate or touch it too much, it can [be rejected] from your body,” Ramey said. “Definitely know how to take care of them; you want to think about what could happen.”
Tattoo parlors provide instructions for caring for a tattoo and what to apply to it. Senior Jewelea Shubert, who has two tattoos and 10 piercings, used a saline gel to keep her tattoo moisturized and clean. However, she was surprised at how much her tattoo scabbed and itched afterward.
“Scabbing is kind of like when a sunburn peels, but imagine it being more itchy and dry; kinda scaley,” Shubert said. “[Your piercer should] give you steps on how to keep it clean, and as long as you maintain keeping everything clean, you shouldn’t have a problem.”
Although piercing guns are frequently used, needles are the safest strategy when getting a piercing. Shubert says that she has always used needles.
“A lot of people say that if you use a gun to pierce yourself, then it shatters [all the cartilage in your ear],” Shubert said.
Despite the appeal of body modifications, there are disadvantages to having them, including disapproval from family.
“People have told me that it’s gross and that they don’t like them, but it’s on my body and it’s my choice,” Aguilar said. “We are still human [even though we] have a different sense of style; we deserve the same respect as someone who doesn’t have tattoos and piercings.”
Junior Victor Roman says that, because he is Roman Catholic, many people don’t approve of his tattoo.
“They ask, ‘Don’t you think that’s going to affect your future or look bad when you’re older?’” Roman said. “[I tell them that] I don’t care; it’s what I want to do, and I feel like if I hadn’t done it at this age, I would have regretted it when I’m older. I wanted this, and I’ll be glad that I’ve had this experience.”
Before getting a tattoo or piercing, Roman advises teens to do research on different tattoo parlors and look at the artist’s previous work for reference.
“You have to go to a clean shop, one that you’ve heard multiple good reviews of,” Roman said. “If your artist charges more, you know you’re going to someone professional. Make sure you are getting something you’re willing to put up with.”