Piercings receive unjust stigma

Kali Croke, Co-news editor

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I have ten piercings: nine in my ears, one in my nose and who knows how many more (if any) will be added in the future. No, I’m not trying to give a middle finger to the “system”. And no, I’m not exhibiting intense teenage angst, characterized by the rebellion of what is “normal” by society’s standards.

These assumptions, while they may be applicable to some, are the kinds of harmful stereotypes that define public perception of individuals who accessorize themselves in unique forms. But if we destigmatized the way we perceive stylistic body modifications, we would eliminate the connotation that pierced individuals are productive members of society.

Drawing conclusions about an individual because of the type or amount of piercings they have is like equating the amount of books someone carries directly with their level of intelligence. I understand that some piercings can be overly ostentatious and misrepresentative for certain types of situations, but these types of responses are merely from social constructs.

I also realize that reforming embedded prejudice is wishful thinking. To think that we can change social assumptions by selective propaganda or case study is near impossible. But it is too easy to create a life narrative for people based on how they look. No matter how distasteful you find it, there’s no justification for assuming everyone with excessive amounts of body modification is somehow “strange” or “scary”.

The source of this misthinking is hard to pinpoint; maybe it is the whole “nonconformity” thing that makes people uncomfortable. Or maybe it’s that piercings muster up visceral feelings of lawlessness, criminality and distrust that has expanded to characterize all people of similar aesthetic. Whatever the association, it comes from a place of unjustified stereotypes and stigmatized imagery.

My piercings are my way of accessorizing myself. In fact, I enjoy playing with how I look because it allows me to break the stereotypes I know people use to label me. When someone makes a split-second judgment of me as unlawful, careless, or irresponsible, there’s a certain amount of pride I get in proving them wrong.

I’m proud to be part of a community of individuals who give a new meaning to the word “normal”. I find the ability to change myself, or add to my aesthetic, particularly liberating. When life becomes so routine, piercings have become a way where I remind myself not to take life too seriously.

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