Body jewelry

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04.12.08

The body is the medium

Posted in Piercing News at 8:48 am by admin

 The body is the medium

Nae Morris was 5 years old when she had her ears pierced.

Now 20, the University of Michigan student has 13 piercings, stretched earlobes with half-inch holes and several tattoos. She also has scars in the shape of flowers along the side of her torso that were created by having her skin cut with a scalpel, a process known as scarification.

Morris’ mother, she said, is the only member of her family who is speaking to her after her aunt found photographs of her on a body modification Web site six months ago. It has been an ongoing battle with her family over the past several years to explain why she chooses to modify her body in different ways.

“I’m trying to explain when is enough, when is it bodily harm, and what does it mean to me,” she said, sitting on a stool in the Lucky Monkey tattoo and piercing shop on South Ashley Street on the west side of downtown Ann Arbor. “Everything I have done has to mean enough to me to be worth it to stand up to my whole family. And I’m still going.

“It feels right. It feels like it belongs, every piece fits in. … I’m slowly getting happy.”

Body modification is done for many reasons, aesthetic, cultural, ritual and psychological. Intentional alterations to the body run the gamut from the more socially accepted ear piercing and plastic surgery to facial tattoos, implantation of jewelry under the skin, and the permanent modification of organs, such as tongue-splitting.

Modifying the body has been part of cultural rituals around the world for ages. Foot binding in China, lip stretching in Ethiopia, tattooing in Borneo, breast augmentation in the United States and female circumcision in Somalia are all forms of body modification.

Modifications available in the tattoo and piercing shops in and around Ann Arbor range from tattoos and ear piercing to implants under the skin, branding and stretching.

Read More 

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New California law gets the lead out of piercing jewelry

Posted in Piercing News at 8:44 am by admin

Hipsters beware: That naval piercing or nose ring may be hazardous to your health.

In rare cases, seizures, organ failure and even death can occur.

That’s the message from the California Department of Toxic Substance Control, which is enforcing a new state law that regulates lead in jewelry, especially piercing jewelry.

That law went into effect March 1.

“Body piercings may be particularly vulnerable to poisoning since lead can enter the bloodstream through the pierced areas,” Maureen Gorsen, director of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, said in a written statement.

To get the point across, officials from the department were in Berkeley on Thursday at Zebra Tattoo & Body Piercing shop to spread the word that jewelry must have less than 10 percent lead as of March 1 and less than 6 percent by Aug. 30, 2009.

If they violate the new law, they can face fines of up to $2,500 a day for each piece in their possession.

Kerrie Naslund, 34, a senior piercer at Zebra for 16 years, said she is confident her shop is lead-free because it gets most of its jewelry from American manufacturers who provide certificates showing the metals in piercing jewelry they buy.

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Body Piercing: Don’t Get Stuck With a Toxic Stud

Posted in Piercing News at 8:43 am by admin

If you need more ammo to convince your teenager that body piercing has its downside, consider these two words: lead poisoning.

That’s one point I hadn’t considered among the pluses and minuses of piercing. (My thoughts ran more to nasty infections, nerve damage, lifelong scars, and chipped teeth.) Thanks to California—the trailblazer, as always, when the news concerns nipple rings or tongue barbells—I’m now aware that when puncturing body parts, I should demand 100 percent lead-free hardware.

This month, a new California law aimed at getting the lead out of jewelry expanded to include body-piercing jewelry and adult adornments. Lead is now verboten in piercing jewelry and is limited to less than 1.5 percent in regular jewelry that doesn’t have a protective coating. Last September, the state launched the nation’s toughest standards on lead in children’s jewelry, banning jewelry that is more than .06 percent lead by weight.

That action came after multiple recalls of lead-contaminated kiddie jewelry nationwide. The toxic metal can cause permanent brain damage and resulted in the death of a 4-year-old Minnesota child who ate a lead-tainted charm in 2006. The effects on adults are less dire but include impotence, high blood pressure, anemia, and kidney trouble. Skin contact usually doesn’t pose a big risk for teens and adults, says Michael Berriesford, supervising inspector for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. But piercing is another matter. “We’re concerned about piercing jewelry because of the fact that the metallic posts come directly in contact with body fluids or blood flow and could carry lead directly into a person’s system,” he says. (That tongue stud just became even less attractive.)

Despite lots of ink surrounding the California law, the message doesn’t seem to be getting through. Last fall, state investigators bought and tested more than 600 pieces of children’s jewelry after the law went into force and found illegal amounts of lead in 18 percent of them. That included a pirate bracelet bought at a Universal Studios gift shop and necklaces bought at big retailers including Marshall’s, Macy’s, GapKids, Toys “R” Us, and Claire’s. One necklace, bought from a gumball machine at a Church’s Chicken restaurant in Oakland, had more than 600 times the allowable amount of lead. Investigators are now expanding their enforcement efforts beyond retailers, to manufacturers and wholesalers.

The rest of the country should follow suit. Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota have passed legislation similar to California’s; other states, including Maryland, are pondering their own bans. But it would be much easier for manufacturers, retailers, and parents if there was a federal law covering all 50 states. A bill that would create federal limits for lead in jewelry is awaiting action in the Senate. But for now, it’s still body-piercer beware.

Berriesford says clues his investigators look for include low price, things made of metal that are heavy for their size, and things with a dull metallic luster. “There’s really no way a consumer can tell just by looking at it,” Berriesford says, “which is why we’re going through a significant amount of effort.”

If you, or your beloved offspring, are determined to pierce, California offers a comprehensive list (.pdf) of what’s safe. Think surgical-grade stainless steel or titanium, niobium, gold that’s 14 karat or higher, solid platinum, or dense synthetics such as Teflon (PTFE). Sterling silver, nickel, and other metals often used in inexpensive jewelry won’t do because they can spark allergic reactions. Nontoxic piercing: What could be more California than that?

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