Dear Judge, Jury and Executioner,
There is something about being a part of the pierced, tattooed and modified club that comes with an immediate and infinite feeling of belonging. A club that exists because the world knows nothing but judgement; a club of people that have to constantly defend themselves to the masses regarding their personal choices, decisions and modifications.
Let me make this as clear and cliché as possible, we do NOT judge you for not having piercings and tattoos and you have no right to judge us in the reverse.
But you will.
And we know you will.
It is sad that the world we live in is still one of exclusion and judgement to those who take the initiative and originality to be different, to be unique, to stand out above the neutral. My own modifications ensure I am subjected to that expected judgement daily, yet I continue to make changes to this body knowing it will incite prejudice. Why? My own happiness with my body is more important than the insignificant commentary of the unmodified, judgemental bystander.
It is a daily struggle to disprove the common misconceptions of the modified human being:
- Yes, majority of us have actually done our research and our homework on the modifications we intend on having done.
- No, we are not unemployable degenerates without ambition or direction.
- Yes, we are well aware that visible modification breeds contempt.
- No, we don’t care for your unwanted advice, opinion and ideas on how our choices affect our lives and our futures.
While you have our best interests at heart with your suggestions and opinions on our bodily appearances, know that anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of modification law. This is not your body, this is not your choice and you are guilty of judgement even if you don’t believe your advice on the subject to be so.
I am who I am now, with piercings and tattoos, with stretched earlobes and soon to be dreadlocked hair, as I once was before I started to change my appearance. The only differences are the aesthetics and the confidence that comes with those modifications, the confidence to adopt the ‘not give a f@#k attitude’ and adorn myself with metal and colour for the world to see.
But you see, I do give one; I care about how people see me if they are seeing me as something I am not. If they choose to see me as a freak, it is my goddess given right to defend myself, to defend my choices and the irrelevancy of their opinions. In fact, I will argue that I am not a freak and that I am surer of myself than anyone because I have the courage to wear my skin as I choose to see fit. This makes me strong; this makes me unique; this makes me a Queen.
The ways of the world are deep rooted in an irrational fear of the unique, of the different and of the brave. It is a sad yet irrefutable fact that corporate companies refuse to employ more than suitable (if not better suited) candidates for a position based on their pierced and tattooed appearance. It is disappointing to me that the art we choose to bear continues to define our work ethic, ambitions and morals. In my 15-year working career, through all of the years I have spent covering my tattoos and hiding my piercings, the most beneficial engagements were made when my modifications were on display and prompting conversations.
- The best deals were made without any influence of my nipple piercings.
- The best situations were resolved without any input from my stretched septum.
- The most profitable contracts were signed despite 80 hours of my personal time spent in a tattoo artist’s chair.
I spent most of my working career on the phone to the very people who would chastise me in person if only they knew of my appearance. They were able to do business with me without question and without prejudice, purely because they did not know what I looked like. Imagine, a world where everyone could get along because we hide our true selves from one another.
This is it.
We are already here, welcome to society.
While the modified club holds your contempt in very low regard, we are still people with real emotion and feelings, unchanged by the outer confidence we portray. Perhaps the multiple piercings I have in my nose gives you the idea that I can handle your judgment a little better than someone else would, perhaps because I walk around with almost two fully tattooed arm sleeves I am waiting for you to hurtle abuse in my direction? Or perhaps I continue to modify myself in the hopes that you will ridicule and mock me in public because I enjoy the interaction.
Perhaps you have gotten the idea that because I modify my body with ink and metal, you have earned the right to tell me what to do with it.
Never have you been more mistaken.
For those who do not know me, it is important you understand who I am outside of my modifications. I am an educated, ambitious, intelligent woman with a passion for writing, reading and intellectual conversation. I have worked hard, so very hard, all of my life and am always looking for new ways to improve myself. I am a mature, adult female who has the life experience of the ancients. Despite my strong, extroverted and confident exterior, I hold dark and deep emotional weaknesses. Like anyone else, I too have insecurities and self-doubt that plagues me when I look in a mirror. I deal with mental health challenges daily and my anxieties and worries are just as important to me as anyone else.
You adorn yourself with jewels and precious metals, lipstick and war paint, hair gel and setting spray.
I adorn myself with metal and ink.
We are no different, we only choose different armour.
I would not dream of addressing the blank canvas in the room to a non tattooed person. Never have I ever judged someone for not having earrings, stretched lobes or piercings. Nor is it my right to pass comment on a non-modified person’s choice of makeup, jewellery, clothing or hairstyle.
I would implore all non-modified people to be mindful before casting your judgement on someone who has made modifications to their body at their own will. These aesthetics do not define us but are a conduit of our expression.
We are a part of an ever-growing club, an inclusive one. There is no need to be tall or short, rich or poor, employed or unemployed, you are welcome no matter your circumstance. This is a club that applauds expression and celebrates artistry, a club that chooses to support one another instead of tearing each other down. A club that recognises freedom and acknowledges uniqueness, a club I am more than proud to be a part of.
The next time you pass my decorated body in the street, perhaps it is YOU who should take the time to get to know me before you pass your judgement, play your part in the jury and execute my originality.