Why we shouldn’t stereotype tattoos and piercings

Austin Sumter, Campus Carrier Online Editor

On Oct. 13, Matt Forney, a writer for the website Return of Kings (ROK) wrote a post entitled “5 Reasons Why Girls With Tattoos and Piercings Are Broken.”  If you are ever unfortunate enough to actually click through to other posts on the ROK site and the personal blogs of the site’s writers, you will find equally horrifying articles claiming that women should not receive anything higher than a high school education, should dedicate their entire lives to finding a higher purpose through serving men, are better for having low or no self-esteem and other misogynistic viewpoints.  While all of these posts are reprehensible, Forney’s post about piercings is extremely personal to me as I have a total of 13 piercings in my ears and two in my face. 

I understand that many are skeptical about body modification.  I mean, we came with the holes we have.  Why add more?  Every person who goes under the needle has different reasons, and I cannot speak for them.  However, my piercings are purely about aesthetics.  I like the way they look and how they make me look.  Having a few extra holes above the norm is just how I choose to make myself feel pretty.

Forney’s article states that women who have piercings and tattoos are fundamentally boring, selfish, lacking foresight, sexually promiscuous and mentally ill.  Forney is basing all of his claims on a woman with tattoos and piercings he once dated and is described as generally a disaster of a person. 

On the count of lack of foresight, I can very truthfully tell you that I am extremely aware that not everyone is going to accept my piercings.  I am a marketing major and expect to work in an office setting one day, and I understand that my piercings make it harder for me to fit the corporate image expected of me.  That is why I deliberate for at least three months before getting a new set of piercings to decide if they are what I really want that’s worth changing my body. I also make sure that once the piercings are healed I can adequately hide them by either taking them out or inserting a piece of plastic to make sure that they do not close up. 

Over the summer, I interned at a market research company in Buckhead and needed to make sure that I was what they were looking for in an intern. It added more time and a bit more stress to my day, but I’m willing to make the sacrifice to keep my piercings.

Next, Forney believes that all women with piercings are selfish.  To my chagrin, I would have to say that Forney is right on this count.  I am being selfish about my piercings.  My parents have spoken plainly about their dislike for my extra holes and shiny bits, but I keep them anyway because they are how I choose to express my individuality.  However, Forney is wrong that being selfish in self-expression is only limited to those with body modifications.  The clothes you wear, the perfume you spray every morning and the haircut you decided on are all elements of self-expression.  You choose them because you like them and not for what everyone else thinks.  My piercings are, to me, just another accessory to wear every day.

On the subject of a lack of personality, I would say that it is all subjective.  Mr. Forney believes that “most girls are dull as dirt, but tattooed and pierced girls are aggressively dull.”  When preparing for this article I decided to ask my friends if I was boring, and I have been assured that I am not.  I may not have the most happening of social lives but I would like to believe that I can carry a conversation without making the other person want to stab their eyes out. 

Next, Forney believes that all women with tattoos and piercings are sexually promiscuous because his ex-girlfriend with body modifications cheated on him.  The logic behind this baffles me.  A woman should be able to have as many or as few sexual relationships as she desires, and body modifications are not a factor in this.  I have known girls who are sexually promiscuous and do not have body modifications and vice versa.  Body modifications are not some sort of “slut signal” that will let you know approximately how many sexual partners she has had. 

Lastly, Forney believes that women with extra piercings and tattoos are mentally ill.  Just like with the count of being sexually promiscuous, body modifications are not an indication of a person’s mental wellbeing.  Mental illness can come in many different forms and in all different types of people.  Having body modifications says nothing about a person’s mental health status, and the thought that you could determine something as serious as that with their body modification choices is preposterous.

No matter how you feel about the subject on body modification, I am just here to tell you that Forney is wrong.  I am not boring, mentally ill or sexually promiscuous.  I may be selfish, but aren’t we all?  I am just a person trying to express herself in today’s world.  Not everyone has to accept or understand my choices, but just know that there is nothing wrong with me.

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