The Pros and Cons of Self Expression in the 21st Century

Cripes, and here I thought letting your best friend pierce your ear using a sewing needle and half a potato was unnecessarily risky! But it turns out, as do-it-yourself ear alterations go, the needle-n-tater trick is actually on the “Silly but Relatively Harmless” end of the Self-Mutilation Scale. What we have here is a slideshow that puts things into the proper perspective by showing us an example that resides closer to the “I Sure Hope You Know What You’re Doing” end.

For the record, I’m not trying to hate on the girl in the slideshow. As long as no one else’s rights are violated, I have no problem at all with people making themselves resemble preternatural storybook creatures. There does seem to be some intricate knife work involved, though, and I suspect the more discerning World of Warcraft fanatics would opt to have the procedure performed by someone who has been through medical school, but who am I to judge? After all, the guy this girl got to cut on her ears has been in the piercing industry since 2000 and has even completed a training seminar!

Anyway, I got to thinking about the different ways in which people satisfy their artistic and/or autophobic impulses by manipulating their very flesh and how, just like everything else, there are both good examples and bad. From tattoos to piercings to sub-dermal implants, there are those who have modified themselves with artful skill and there are misshapen, butchered atrocities.

Tattoos

We’ve all seen great tats and we’ve all seen grievous ones. Perhaps the hardest part about looking at someone’s new ink is the fact that most people who have really shitty tattoos are completely clueless to the fact. It seems like the more someone has to explain what that misshapen blue blotch on their calf is, the prouder they are of it. You’ll often hear them gleefully declare “I designed it myself!” and then go into the story about how, despite the tattoo artist’s repeated suggestions, they insisted he refrain from changing it one single bit.

But when construction workers and prison inmates leave tattoo design to actual artists, we find that the human body can be decorated quite beautifully. The best pieces I’ve ever seen were invariably ones where either 1) the artist was given complete control or 2) the customer drew a basic design and allowed the artist to come up with the final interpretation. 

Piercings

You can give yourself a lace-up torso or put new openings in your head so large they can accommodate birds and small rodents, but when it comes to body piercing, the only way to truly impress me is by aerating those body parts society has deemed as private – not so much because those places also tend to be the most sensitive (though that certainly factors in), but because voluntarily punching holes in one’s own genitals represents a level of commitment seldom seen in the human species without having pure evil as its primary motivator. Hell, I’d even go so far as to say that suicide bombers haven’t got anywhere near what it takes to sport a Prince Albert.

Sub-Dermal Implants

Even though I don’t know a single person who has deliberately embedded anything in their body, I still feel compelled to formulate opinions on the subject. And in my opinion, objects placed under the skin…

…to expedite the unpleasant dialysis process = A+

…to simulate body parts that have unfortunately had to be removed or severely diminished = A+

…for the purpose of securely carrying imperative medical data or necessary identification = B

…so that the subject appears to have devil horns, rudimentary tentacles, or Cardassian facial structure = C+

…to keep from misplacing them = C-

…in case Monty Hall ever offers you $100 in exchange for anything you have to slice yourself open to get at = D+

…to render the subject susceptible to total brain control by the government and/or vicious alien overlords = F

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About kirkstarr

I draw pictures for a living.
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9 Responses to The Pros and Cons of Self Expression in the 21st Century

  1. Artzy Lady says:

    Spidey is incredible, the rest are whackos with too much time and money. And I have a natural pixie ear, no going Van Gogh on myself. Who does that?! (Well, besides the artist who has really lost it this time?!)

  2. arbed says:

    This kind of thing has always fascinated me. People are shocked when they find out what I know about this stuff – lol. I can still remember when I first found out about meatotomies. Anyway, when I was researching a place to get my tattoo, I came across one place here in town that does the whole deal – tats, implants, piercings, scarification. Check out some of this guy's portfolio, and the vid of the suspension. And of course the leading site for this stuff. Plus, I had come across a site where, among other things, they were rectifying old/bad tattoos, piercings, and other mods. In some ways, they actually were more qualified than a doctor or surgeon, as odd as that sounds. Unfortunately, I didn't mark it and no longer remember the site. It actually made me queasy and I had to stop looking. That's quite odd for someone who enjoys surgery shows and, as I said, finds this stuff fascinating.

  3. jaypo says:

    One should never get this kind of stuff done when you're: – suffering a phase of egotistical self-admiration which may end. – depressed. – feeling invulnerable. – being unrealistic about the effects of age on the body. – too inexperienced to understand any of the above.That said, I wonder how the Cougar Man is doing, the guy I saw on TV a few years back who was having his whole face altered–including filing his teeth into points–to look like a cat. It's interesting. I have to wonder, too, how Lace-up Girl is going to deal with all that once she's out of her 20s and puts on a pound a year until she's middle aged.OTOH, people have been altering their bodies for thousands and thousands of years. The only real wonder to me is how many different ways they come up with. Endlessly creative…

  4. Laurie says:

    That Spiderman tattoo is awesome — until that guy also starts getting a paunch as he gets older.

  5. Yoj says:

    While I could never get it done (I'm not a super hero fan), that Spider-Man tattoo is pretty bad ass. The lace up on the side my stomach do a flip flop, as did those discs. But hey- that guy could walk around and serve nuts & mints off his arm no problem!

  6. grrrace says:

    i think i gagged a little bit when i saw that elf (or whatever) ear. that spiderman one is effin' amazing, though.the lace and tentacles pics really made me feel ill. oy vey.

  7. Budd says:

    The lace one is kinda hot, in a really freaky way that I do not feel the need to explore. Really the same reason I thought Julie from return of living dead 3 was kinda hot.

  8. Toe-Knee says:

    I love your take on this. A few years ago I read a comic series called Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis, and in it he goes into great deal to describe the lengths that people will go to, to alter their appearance. He describes transgenders, people who alter their genetic structure to appear partially or more wholly alien, he even delves into the idea that people willingly upload their consciousness into a swarm of nano-machines. People impart "traits" on themselves like they buy shirts, which are basically altering you genetics. Wanna be a smoker? Better take the anti-cancer trait first. Wanna swim with the fishes traits can give you gills and perhaps even counteract the bends. The stuff detailed in the book seems farfetched at times, but I think 90% of it will happen. Check it out if you get a chance.

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