Teen attire nowadays is a far cry from when we were young.
What’s happening to a large portion our young people today?
It appears to me they are going over the edge. Piercing rings, tattoos, studs and freaky dress seem to be the order of the day for scores of teens. They start as young as Grade 7. These kids are just 13 and 14 and believe it or not, image and looking sexy seem to be a central focus for many of them. Those adults ahead of them who are leading the imaging fad no doubt have a big influence – adults like the guys I saw at the checkout in a Florida Wal-Mart, one wearing a tank shirt with a snake tattooed around his arm and up his chest to his neck while sporting several earrings in both ears. His buddy had purple hair, wore army fatigues with laced boots and had his forehead tattooed with all sorts of weird psychedelic designs.
A gentleman sitting nearby on a waiting bench noticing them remarked to me, “and to think one of those guys is a basketball coach in our local high school.”
When we were young, there is no way we would be permitted to dress with our pants hanging off our butt, and girls with studded and pierced-ringed belly buttons showing. No doubt you have noticed! Just go to the mall if you want real eye openers. They think they are hot, sexy and, God forbid, good looking.
We were cool with our hair flat topped (brush cut) and some wore their hair swept back into a ducktail; Wellington boots, saddle Oxfords, roll neck sweaters, (girls in mini-skirts) tomboyish hair cuts that made a statement, and some of us wore leather jackets with shirt collar curled up and tapered pegged pants or blue jeans.
The real question
The real question we should ask is what makes these kinds of displays so easily available? What affect are they having on our schools and where are the parents and teacher controls? Are we out of touch with young people today? It looks like it to me. Will all of this lead to more chaos in society? Is it a clear case of free will running wild, like those mod-hair tattooed body pierced teens I witnessed in a park in Florida recently, hugging and kissing, smoking and groping while it appeared to me they were on their school lunch break transported there on loud-coloured skate boards.
Tattoos and piercing are hip with thousands of other teens like those possibly led by celebrities who are getting highly publicized body art. Kids everywhere are cutting expenses by getting these procedures done by people who are not hygiene-conscious, under qualified, not certified and some are being body pierced in homes by school chums.
For those who rush into this world of image making with storefront hucksters, doctors insist on asking artists to see their sterilization equipment, and particularly ensure an autoclave – the device used in hospitals for sterilization, is being used.
The popular areas of piercing are the ear lobe, tongue, belly button, eyebrows, lips, nipples (even on men), and tattoos are placed on just about every part of the body – you name it they do it- some even on their genitals doctors report.
The risks of unregulated poor-hygiene body piercing and tattooing are enormous. Doctors say one in four develop infections; one in five have persistent drainage at the site of the piercing and one in seven have severe reactions to piercing dyes. Allergies, tainted blood on piercing needles often results in lifelong problems including blood-bone disease, AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, heart infection, syphillis, TB and sceptisis.
A physician in Florida said recently, “we found that commercially acquired tattoos accounted for more than twice as much Hepatitis C infections as injection-drug use. Tattoos can scar for life after they have been embedded into the skin. The removal of tattoos often leads to the need for medical help, psychology intervention and counseling,” he said.
Newfoundland is the only province without piercing and tattoo regulations, although the province’s department of health has completed a study – one that was commissioned two years ago by then provincial health minister Tom Osborne shortly after a young girl died after having her nipple pierced. The cause of death was toxic shock her autopsy report stated.
It will be interesting to see what Ross Wiseman the current Health Minister will do about regulating tattooing and piercing. Reports recently stated that his department has a position on the issue and Wiseman will put it before the cabinet for consideration. Up to this point, I don’t think there has been an official Cabinet statement on the problem.
Insistent teens beware
Doctors advise insistent teens to give as much consideration to what they are going to put on their body as they would any other big decision they make, and to absolutely look around for the safest, most experienced most artistic person one can find because the results will be important for the rest of their lives.
Unlike other more typical forms of self-expression – make-up, clothing, hairstyling i.e.) body art piercing and tattooing can lead to severe complications, even death. In one area here, there are posters on the sides of some school buses warning students to think before you pierce.
Hold your fire
Before the phones light up and the letters to me pour in, I want to assure <I>Compass<I> readers that I know without a single doubt that all of the above does not apply to all young people. Only a certain segment of our teens and young adults are piercing, tattooing and demonstrating weird behaviour in public.
The majority thankfully are balanced, intelligent, well behaved and are the pride of their parents, teachers and school friends who deplore piercing rings and tattoos.
However, even some of our finest young adults are involved in this crazy body-art fad with the consent of their parents. I know this is private and quite frankly some would say none of my business.
It is quite possible I am all wrong in these views in this column. But if I am I am not alone. There are doctors, politicians, teachers and youth counsellors who will support my opinions. I think I am in pretty good company you must agree, so hold your fire please.
He said to take a deep breath.
I closed my eyes.
The needle went through, and then a series of painful tugs. Then, that was it. It was over.
So maybe I won’t be able to donate blood plasma for a year – I can live with that.
What’s a little more devastating is the six-week no-kissing rule. Way to put a damper on my social life.
Despite the $60 and what felt like hours of nervous anticipation and clammy hands, I don’t regret putting a hole in my lip.
It’s something I have wanted for a long time.
I somewhat prepared myself for the pain by pinching my lip while I sat in the piercing chair. But I wish I had taken the time to be better prepared for the backlash I would get afterward.
I had expected family members to be a bit judgmental, and I knew my friends would be shocked. I have been known to be the exact opposite of spontaneous.
However, I did not expect words such as “trashy” and “ugly” and a facial expression that I can only describe as one made when smelling rotten flesh.
When I attended the Miss UF Pageant Monday night, a woman asked if the seats next to me were saved. I politely informed her that they were.
She took one look at my lip, saw the fact that my hair was about 12 shades darker than everyone else’s and made a remark to her friend. She then pointed at my piercing, made a noise that sounding like she was choking on a hair ball and walked away.
What was that about? I tried to ignore the rude response, but I admit it bothered me. Later that night, I put my confusion and frustration to good use.
I did research and discovered that about half of people in their 20s have either a tattoo or a body piercing other than earrings, according to a 2006 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
I imagine that number has increased since then.
As the trend becomes more accepted in today’s culture, it amazes me that I feel like the victim of a widely held stereotype.
In some African cultures, lip piercings in women signify beauty. For ancient Mayan and Aztec men, the labret piercing meant they were of higher class.
Why in modern American culture do we feel it’s appropriate to deem the pierced as “gothic” or “just looking for attention?”
I have yet to tell my mom about my new stab, but I can foresee her reaction: “You’d better take that out before you start looking for jobs!”
It’s not like I tattooed my forehead.
But that’s not even the point. In recent years, employers have become increasingly lenient with their dress codes.
I worked at a restaurant in 2002 and saw a hostess get fired for refusing to remove her industrial piercing – the one that extends across the top of the ear cartilage. At that same restaurant today, at least four of the employees have facial piercings and a good handful have visible tattoos.
But I know there will always be those bosses who make a snap judgment and let it define who I am.
What I want to know is: How does a tiny stud in my bottom lip make me any less qualified to be a good writer or a hard worker? I could be 10 times smarter than the girl with the pink, cable, v-neck cardigan and pearl earrings.
Then again, she could be a genius.
This only proves my point – what we wear and how we express ourselves should not be the basis for what we have to offer.
Piercing-much like tattooing-is just one of today’s popular forms of “body art” and self-expression. Oral piercing is not a new phenomenon. In fact, history points to the Mayans, some of whom pierced their tongues to demonstrate courage and virility. The Aleuts and Eskimos sometimes pierced the lips of female infants as part of a purification ritual and the mandibular (lower) lips of boys to signify part of the passage into puberty. In some Third World countries, oral piercing are customs that continue to be practiced for religious, sexual, tribal, or marital significance.
Piercing may seem cool, daring, and totally safe because some celebrities use body piercing to display their particular style or attitude. Trendy fashion magazines and music videos will advertise it-that is until it’s no longer deemed the “in thing” and something else comes along to replace it. Piercing is no doubt growing among Western culture.
However, piercing the tongue, lips, checks, or the uvula (the tiny tissue that hangs at the back of the throat), is not as safe as some would have you believe. That’s because of your mouth’s moist environment. It’s home to huge amounts of breeding bacteria and is an ideal place for infection. If you’re thinking of about getting a piercing or if you already have one or more, there are some health risks that you should know about.
A mouth piercing can interfere with speech, chewing, or swallowing. That may seem like a mere inconvenience until you consider that it may also cause:
-Infection, pain, and swelling
-Chipped or cracked teeth
-Injuries to the gums
-Damage to fillings
-Increased salivary flow
-Hypersensitivity to metals
The harmful effects can happen during the piercing, soon after, or even long after the procedure.
An infection can quickly become life threatening if it’s not treated promptly. For example, oral piercing carries a potential risk of Endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart valves or tissues. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through the piercing site in the mouth and travel to the heart, where it can colonize on heart abnormalities. This is a risk for people with heart conditions and in the worst cases results in death.
After a piercing, the tongue may swell. There have been reports of swelling serious enough to block the airway. And it’s very possible to puncture a nerve during a tongue piercing. If this happens, you may experience a “numb” tongue, which indicates nerve damage that is sometimes temporary and sometimes permanent. The injured nerve may affect your sense of taste, or how you move your mouth.
Just touching your mouth jewelry (tongue barbells and lip and cheek labrettes) can lead to infection. Believe it or not, people who have piercings constantly touch them-which is a perfect opportunity for bacteria from hands to enter piercing sites.
The hoop, ring, stud, and barbell shaped jewelry can also hinder your ability to talk and eat. And food particles that collect around piercing sites can lead to infection. Some people have even swallowed the jewelry, which can puncture the bowel or intestine.
Some people also develop a habit of “biting” the barbells or “playing” with the balls which can lead to cracked, scratched teeth: gum damage and recession; and sensitive teeth. Sometimes, uncomfortable, protruding scar tissue can form around the piercing site from the stress of the metal against the inside of your tooth.
However, if you already have an oral piercing here are a few tips. Contact your dentist or physician immediately with any signs of infection such as swelling, pain, fever, shaking, or red-streaked appearance around the site of the piercing. Keep the site clean and free of any matter that may collect on the jewelry by using a mouthrinse after every meal. Minimize “clicking” the jewelry against teeth and avoid undue stress on the piercing site. Check the tightness of your jewelry periodically with clean hands because beads loosen on their threads. Checking can help prevent you from swallowing or choking on your jewelry.
Unfortunately, many young people with oral piercings don’t realize that these frightening side effects could happen to them. So consider removing your the mouth jewelry and let your healthy smile make your fashion statement.