Friday, May 25, 2012

A photo that accidentally turned into a bit of a soapboxing

People who know me know I used to work as a piercer for years before coming to vet school.  My next door med school neighbor decided that she needed some piercings before she left for her 3rd year rotations in Washington. Here's what she decided to do:

That's three 7/8" titanium surface bars - one vertical, and two diagonal.

When it comes to "professionalism" and body modifications, I've always felts like I have to be an ambassador for countering negative stereotypes.  I've always felt like because I have piercings and tattoos (and sometimes fun hair colors,) that as a result, I have to be "more" than everybody else.  I have to be more polite to strangers - holding doors, smiling for no freaking reason, and more tolerant of the stupids.  I have to be more successful than other 27-year-olds.  Basically, I feel as if by having my sleeve or piercings visible, I have to give off a positive impression to the public at large, in order to make body modifications more acceptable for the next generation.

We're getting there.  At the veterinary hospital I worked at, every employee had at least one tattoo (including the owner/veterinarian,) some of us had sleeves, and I pierced most of my co-workers, (once again, even the owner.)  Clients never had a problem with it, or if they did, they never said anything.

My next door neighbor will be a physician in two years - a physician with a pretty massive surface piercing project.  That's a big step up from some of the physicians I've come in contact over the years who have been completely ignorant of anything related to body modifications.

When I worked as a body piercer, I personally pierced police officers, doctors, lawyers, judges, nurses, coroners, a nun, you name it.  Last time I looked at the statistics, I think about 13% of americans overall had at least one tattoo, and in some age ranges, the numbers are as high as 40%.  Strangely, I've never seen similar statistics for body piercings.

It's kind of nice, thinking that probably within my lifetime that the taboo surrounding body modifications may be completely lifted, especially in professional settings.  I can guarantee that it's not that professionals of all stripes aren't modified - in fact, those with better jobs can afford amazing full-body tattoos that are conveniently hidden under their suit and tie.  It will just be nice when we feel that we don't have to hide under long sleeves or dermablend.  We're getting there.  As older generations die off, the power and perception is shifting.

One thing I've always tossed around is the possibility of specifically advertising your business to the body modification community.  You know how there's tow truck companies, or dry cleaners, or whatever that have the christian fish in their ads?  (Which, incidentally works on some people.  Tyler's mom apparently will chose a Xian company over a non-Xian company with lower prices or better service.)  I wonder if restaurants, or retail stores, or doctors, or vets advertised, or let it be known that they were mod-friendly (to their staff and their customers/clients,) if it would gain them an advantage by targeting a previously ignored demographic.  If it'd be possible, I have some pretty awesome ideas for hiring Erik Sprague and Dennis Avner for a business card/billboard photoshoot.


  1. thanks for this. have you ever gotten crap at school or did you pretty much have to abide by their 'professional attire' standards? i'm going to keep this piercing on, even during rotations, just to see how long i can go without someone harping on me for it.

  2. I've never had a problem with anything. Everything is visible during normal classes, but for rotations, I take out all my facial piercings, put solid plugs in my ears, and usually wear long sleeves to cover tattoos. My nape piercings may still show, depending on the collar of my shirt, and my hair. My sleeve may poke out if I'm wearing scrubs or 3/4 sleeves. Nobody's ever said anything, but I make it a point to be respectful of their dress code. Now's not the time (for me at least) to make waves.

  3. I'm hopefully going to vet uni soon but I'm worried I might have to lose my lip piercing as best I can do to hide it is a retainer. Do you think it would cause problems or not? And I'm thinking of getting my nape done but again the vet side of things has made me think about it twice. All my other piercings are easy to cover up or take out