If you go into just about any piercing shop anywhere around the country the piercer will probably tell you, in general, business is as good as ever and a stereotype of the average pierced patron is as diverse as it has ever been. Body piercing purportedly no longer carries the stigma it once bore in the past. But who cares. The important thing is that now more people accept it. And more people like it. Teenage boys and girls flock to their local piercing parlors to equip themselves with tongue studs and nose rings. College girls and middle-aged women get navel piercings to add a regal flavor to their Saturday night style. And the frenum is one of the most increasingly popular piercings among men over 25. It is no wonder that piercers are renovating their shops, cleaning up their booths, or moving on to bigger and better places altogether.
So the eternal question again surfaces. Is this just a drawn out fad -- clinging to generations of societal misanthropes -- or is piercing a flourishing complement that envelops physical beautification and inspires self-awareness? Obviously, being both pierced and a devout advocate of this particular form of expression, I would argue the latter. From the beginning through the end, a body piercing experience is one which can be revered highly, both as an enduring test of one's standards and limits as well as a showcase of a person's unique appearance and style.
Every aspect of the piercing process differs form person to person. From the initial decision to get pierced, through the actual sensation of the piercing, to the sensations (physical, psychological, etc.) of the piercing for the duration of the time you have it, your piercing affects you in a unique and discernible way. A piercing even bears on you if you choose to remove it. Whether it is a barely noticeable scar, a nerve twinge that rushes through you upon the slightest touch to the closed piercing, or a faint memory of your jewelry adorned reflection, the intensity and implication of a body piercing experience is truly long lasting.
One of the most distinctive positive aspects about the permanency of a piercing is that your piercing can be whatever your mind makes of it. One girl may be satisfied with her 14 gauge nipple rings, while the next guy is cowering a Prince Albert stretch up to a double zero. Either way, both piercings will be fun while they are worn, and if they become undesirable, simply remove your piercing to virtually restore your body's original condition. Granted, if you remove a ½" thick piercing that has been in for 10 years you will leave a larger blemish than you will by removing a one-month-old nostril screw. The point is that, if cared for correctly, a body piercing will most likely bring only beneficial experiences.
Body piercing is not for everyone. If a piercing is easily agitated, prone to being snagged, or the source of discomfort and pain, it is probably not the healthiest thing to maintain. Past condemnation of body piercing can be attributed to a few general arguments. One is that piercing embodies a potential health risk that can result in infection or disease. Another source of dissent rests on more socio-pathological foundations. Proponents of this argument see pierced people as a thereat to their personal values of lifestyle, mannerism, and appearance, and are rapidly becoming whispers of the past.
In my eyes, the only legitimate criticism of body piercing lies in the areas of sterility, professionalism, and aftercare. This is quickly becoming a non-factor, as piercers within the industry are constantly raising the standard for themselves and their peers. Unfortunately, there still exists a dying breed of straight-edged people that become aghast by the sight of a pierced-back individual. It affronts me to think that a person could be dismayed by the thought of their grocery clerk or their college intern wearing an eyebrow ring or a labret stud, when they have no second thoughts about being drugged up and put under a knife to reduce the appearance of wrinkles on their face. But this is obviously a loaded example. Unlike some of the other conventional forms of physical modification prominent in American Society, body piercing is one that solely empowers the recipient and leaves few to no residual after-effects. Body piercing does not represent a denial of one's innate form or true self, but rather serves as an extension of the soul manifested during a split second of the needle and then embodied by an ornamental trinket.
Piercing can teach you novels about your perception of sensation, namely the absence or awareness of pleasure and pain. At the same time piercing affords the luxury of a style with aesthetic, psychological, and physically tangible promises. We, as the pierced community, must fight to have our voice heard and endeavor to educate those who look from the outside in with the demeanor of unsightly shame. This attitude should extend beyond our expression of piercing and envelop our outward expressions of ourselves. And when we are able to display ourselves and scrutinize others without a hint of prejudicial influence, we will be indefinitely closer towards an ideal of universal utopianism.