Sunday, January 06, 2013


Just TRY and tell me she isn't beautiful!
I've long-since gotten used to (and even comfortable with) the reactions of society and its occupants in regards to my appearance. Since the first hole was punched through my body, I've acknowledged that my decisions would be met with varied opinions, and that those opinions would not always be in my favor (let alone kind). Piercings and tattoos, as a lifestyle rather than a momentary fad, represent the wearer's acceptance that they're visibly separating themselves from the standards of a society that that has yet to see the relevance in the gesture (cultural or aesthetic).

So who's the antagonist in this tale?

Who is wrong and who is right?

This is, of course, where it is expected of me to veer off into a biased rant of the sheer and unparalleled awesomeness of taking needles and using them to force ink or metal into the skin. But since when have I been the predictable type?

While I may not agree wholeheartedly with it, the mass' standards for how one should look is based on an understandably primitive approach on naturalism. The human mind, on a subconscious level, is usually opposed to elements that go against a preset "grain" of what their senses are programmed to understand. Because many cultures approach physical appearance as one of "cleanliness" and symmetry, elements that contradict those notions of what is "attractive" conflict with their standards. Because those that are conflicted by such visuals will very rarely acknowledge that they're simply reacting on cultural brainwashing and push past their programming, it becomes the fault of the subject in question.
Wearing a smile... and some big-ass tunnels.

Long ago, this sort of response may have proved essential in one's survival (seeing a potentially questionable stranger with many scars or foreign markings may illustrate a dangerous individual that should be avoided). However, as societies have evolved, their citizens have not, and what we end up with are people trying to avoid an invasion/attack when there's no threat to begin with.
Others view piercings and tattoos as a sign of ignorance or a lack of education, but, while I feel compelled to ask if any would call me ignorant or poorly educated, I'd rather illustrate my point with a question:

Which is more ignorant: exploring other avenues of self-expression and cultural understanding... or ridiculing those that do?

The issue with the naysayers, however, is not that they express a desire to not get pierced or tattooed, but that they choose to project their opinions onto others who have chosen that lifestyle and label them as "wrong" or "ugly".

So is society wrong for not understanding the body modification community? Not at all. To be honest, it is not for the understanding of others that those who practice the lifestyle seek; it is for the understanding of themselves.
The beliefs of the masses have ALWAYS been true, not because they're factually accurate, but because it is what the majority claims to be so. If 99% of the world is POSITIVE that the earth is flat, it becomes an indisputable battle as to that fact (no matter the facts or reality of a situation, in the end it is which side has the greatest number of followers that will be written as "truth"). And, though we're still some ways away from society's total acceptance of an individual AS an individual, the tolerance for intolerance has most certainly diminished. Though the battle for equality wages, the understanding that it IS wrong for somebody to be made to feel inadequate for ANY reason has been instilled.
I have found a certain pleasure in playing with our culture's misconception of what sorts of people go under the needle by (*gasp*) being myself. When I go out, I hold the door for those coming up behind me (not to prove a point, mind you, but because I was brought up that way), and the confused looks I get from those I extend the gesture towards is nothing if not entertaining.
It has, however, on several occasions, illustrated to what extent a person's intolerance will take them.
More than once, when holding the door for a stranger, I've seen them look at me and stop--not pause or linger or slow; STOP!--in their tracks and, if there is not another set of doors to take, wait for me to step inside so that they can enter without a "freak's" kindness reeking up their sense of personal perfection.
Now, while I could be bitter and hateful towards such things, I've come to find a certain sense of justification in my own choices.
 Can I fit a finger through my earlobes? Yup. Does it look like I have facial shrapnel? Absolutely. Do I have five ADDITIONAL pairs of eyes littered across my body? Eerie-but-true. Am I a tapestry of nature, horror, art, and entertainment? You bet your ass I am! Do disposable plastic cups ever get hooked on the inside of my lip studs and make for embarrassing situations in public events?

*indecipherable garbling*

Vampire tattoo
BUT--and here's the part that makes me smile (cup hanging from my face or not)--though they have the pleasure of knowing their flesh is unmarred, I have the pleasure of knowing my mind is unmarred.
My body art is more than just an expression of "ooh! I want that in my body NOW". It is all connected to a personal philosophy of how to illustrate my exterior in a visual manner that parallels what I feel on the inside. I am a lover of language--it comes with the territory of being an author--and, as an enthusiast for speech, I adorn my lips (over 15 piercings in my lip ALONE over the course of six years). Because I like to listen to others' stories and take in wisdom from any source I can, I gauge my ears. As a lover of food I have worn nose rings in the past--the sense of smell having a strong connection to that of taste--and as an enthusiast for the visual I've had a dermal anchor near my right eye (sadly both have had to come out for some reason or another, but I would have both redone in the blink of an eye if given the chance).
Tattoo of Xander Stryker

Furthermore, all of my tattoos have AT LEAST two symbolic connections to important aspects of my life. The tiger on my left forearm--my first piece--represents beauty, grace, and strength as well as being my Chinese Zodiac sign, my childhood nickname, my favorite animal, AND symbolic relevance to my upcoming novel, Crimson Shadow: Noir, that I can't delve into here and now. The werewolf/therion bust on my left shoulder--a job I got done at the first Roc-City Tattoo convention--represents two sides of one entity: the tame man and the raging beast, a tie to nature despite any attempts to rip myself from it, and the obvious connections to my writing. My vampire bust--on my right shoulder, opposite the werewolf/therion--represents an insatiable thirst for life and an inescapable connection to darkness (and, of course, my writing). My Xander Stryker tattoo is... well, read book #1 on May 1st and you'll understand. Finally, and hardest to explain, is my (unfinished) Deadpool tattoo on my left leg: a symbol of relentless pursuits (no matter how crazy) and a refusal to do ANYTHING without being entertaining while doing it.
My views and my art are my own, and while I take pride in me and mine, I am hardly the face of the body modification community.
Allow me to introduce Tattboy Holden:
They don't get much more badass!

In late 2011, as my budding writing career was causing me to expand my networking reach, I came across this groovy Aussie with a tattooed eye for a lifestyle that he has LITERALLY defined himself with. Globally--and I do mean GLOBALLY--recognized by an ever-increasing following that spans beyond the tens-of-thousands, Tattboy Holden has spent many years transforming his body to mirror the complexity of his soul. A visual, musical, and literary artist with a unique-yet-familiar philosophy on life, love, and acceptance that is nothing short of a daily-dose of inspiration and happiness to any who follow him. My fortune in crossing paths with Tattboy has allowed for an understanding of what it means to alter your appearance to such extents, and, in doing so, has given me a greater understanding of my own motives; seeing every piece of jewelry and every layer of ink as a road map that will, in time, define ME as an individual.
Moreover, he's shown the world what it means to be who you want to be despite the cruelty--and even violence--that that self-expression can invite. While everyday life for an inked-up American may be inconvenient or irritating, Tattboy's life choices (and the misfortune of being in the wrong place to make those choices) have earned him constant harassment.
Despite being ostracized for his appearance, not a day goes by that Tattboy doesn't share a piece of himself, his wisdom, or his humor on his many networking sites that illustrate him as every bit the beautiful human being beneath the flesh as he's made himself on it.
Through all the bullshit--the good, the bad, and the ugly--this awesome Aussie plows through society's standards and expectations with a simple-yet-elegant motto: "Ink me up!"
Tattboy can be found on both Facebook and Google+.
Body modification may not be for everyone, but--for people like me and Tattboy Holden--it's a lifestyle that helps us to define who we are and feel at home inside our own skin; skin, as Tattboy would say, that is the perfect canvas to tell one's life story.

No comments:

Post a Comment