Stop shaming people with body modifications

Yes, I have a septum piercing — leave me alone

In the year of 2016, I continue to wonder why there are still so many people who throw scrutinizing glances and nasty comments at me simply because of a small metal ring in my nose.

Yes, thank you for not only making a derogatory comment to all people who have their septum pierced, but actually dehumanizing us as well.

Please tell me how a small, decorative ring in my nose makes me objectively a worse person.

According to a Pew research in 2010, four in ten millennials have a tattoo, and one in four have a piercing somewhere other than their ear. Young adults are embracing self-expression, and I believe the popularity of body modification will continue to rise as time passes.

Of course, there is a negative stereotype embedded in history that modification equals mutilation. The horrifying foot binding practices of China come to mind, but that fell out of popularity long ago. Corseting was also popular in Western countries during the Victorian era, but an arguably safer version of”waist training” has seen a resurgence ever since celebrities like Kim Kardashian have raved about it.

I only have tiny stick-and-poke tattoos and a septum, so I was curious to see how someone with even more mods felt about criticism. One of my friends Amanda Kane, green-haired extraordinare, offered some insight.

What do you have and why did you get them?

Currently, my only piercings are my triples on each ear and my lip ring. I got them because I’ve always been interested in body modifications and how people can experiment and individualize their image. I also recently got a quarter-sleeve tattoo of a skull and some roses. I love tattoos because they are literally just art on a human canvas. They’re a way to showcase what you find beautiful or interesting.

Have you had any negative reactions from friends, family, or even strangers? 

My parents are very open-minded when it comes to what I do with my appearance, but negative reactions from others are very common. Family-wise, my grandma didn’t talk to me for two weeks after I got my tattoo, saying I “ruined my body” or something like that. It’s a different generation though, so I try to cut people some slack. The rudest people are usually strangers, of all age groups. I’ve been pointed at, laughed at, scolded, and have even had my personal space invaded when a few decided to touch my tattoo or hair while lecturing me. That was uncomfortable on so many levels. I try to write off the judgement of others because I know that my appearance holds no bearing on my character, but it’s still frustrating that people can be so close-minded.


I’ve faced similar criticism for my piercing as well as shaving the side of my hair.

But here’s the thing: We’re not in the early twentieth century where having a tattoo meant you were a sailor or prostitute (like that would make someone a bad person anyways). Yes, some people regret tattoos or get a bad one at a disreputable place. Sometimes ears are pierced incorrectly and get infected, and they can rupture if they’re stretched too quickly. But there is a safe way to modify your body, and it is up to the client to do research and go to a responsible artist.

I don’t tell girls they are ugly if I think their eyebrows are drawn on too thick. They feel good, and my personal opinion does not make them any less beautiful. I don’t give mortified looks when engineering majors wear suits with running shoes. That really is an issue, but again, my personal opinion doesn’t make them any worse of an engineer.

Unless you have something nice to say, just leave us alone. Don’t stick your fingers in someones stretched ears or tell people they will never get a job with “those things” on their body.

Body modification is an amazing way to memorialize, celebrate our bodies, and make art. So let’s stop shaming it.

University of Iowa national-us