There's something inherently inspiring about the honesty and purity in a child's curiosity. Neither biased nor conditioned by outrageous standards of social graces, they have no qualms about staring at things that intrigue them. In this case: a little girl playing near a resting area in the mall that I've perched in who was gazing at the piercings adorning my face.
Unlike others, there was no eye of disgust or repulsion--no blatant joy or entertainment elicited from her observation--but simple and pure intrigue. Noticing this, I offered a smile from over my laptop, and the gesture was happily returned.
The truth of the matter is that those who practice body modification aren't rebelling or trying to offend; they are simply utilizing an alternative means to enhance a sense of self. Much like a hairdo or an article of clothing, tattoos and piercings are not a means of sparking a rise among the masses--or, rather (as there's always THOSE people), they SHOULDN'T be--but a means of putting on the outside an aesthetic representation of what exists on the inside. Much like the hairdo or the clothing they can be adored or despised by others, but to treat them--and, by extension, the wearers--as somehow divided from society is a far greater faux pas than being noticeably intrigued.
For the most part, if somebody has tattoos and/or piercings, they're not only aware that they'll attract attention (both the good and the bad kind; don't fool yourself, haters, you aren't the first to cast a glare and you won't be the last--you'll remember my face LONG after I've forgotten your scorn) but that people will be curious about what it all means.
Like the child in the mall, don't make an ass of yourself trying to follow some convoluted sense of etiquette; simply be aware that--no matter how many layers of ink or metal or wood or bone might divide your wandering gaze from their core--there IS a person lurking underneath.