Women piercing and tattoos

It mind boggles me why anyone would want to attack one’s body with needles. Possibly because I’m petrified of needles; which includes anything that minutely resembles a sharp object entering my skin involuntarily. Having said that, I am awed, intrigued, and even mystified how one can sit for hours allowing oneself to be drilled and punctured like a pin cushion. The current popularity of body piercings and tattoos especially among women is unexplainable, especially to me. When I ask the reason behind the leap into the body “art” I generally get the sheepish answer of “I like it.” When I ask if this quasi permanent art would still be liked at 90, I get a shrug. Why do young women find it necessary to taint and mutilate their bodies?
A few weeks ago a young mother of two walked into our business donning purple hair and ear piercings that numbered in the dozen. Besides the fact that I could not take my eyes off her ears because I was expecting them to fall off; I was also wondering why a mother would subject her children to a blatant display of ink and steel. Is she really advocating her children get tattoos and piercings when they grow up? Is this her mentoring strategy? As women we encounter enough challenges in life without adding body mutilation to the list. So far when asked, not one woman has ever told me why she inked and drilled. I have received many an evasive answer which brings me to think that maybe this is a question of emulating rather than instinct. Of course there is always the odd pseudo intellectual reply that tattoos and piercings are an expression of “art.” Balderdash! Tell that to the corporate executive looking for professionals. Do these women really expect to be marketable as serious executive material looking like the Sistine Chapel and with enough nose rings that could tie a horse?
Some young women coquettishly reason that “body art” should not make a difference; “it’s the brain that counts.” They point out NCIS character Abby, the Goth in large tats that also happens to be a forensic genius. My question to these women: Are you for real? Is that how far we have sunk; we do not know the difference between a TV show and reality? Pauley Perrette, who stars as Abby owned up to the fact that the large tattoos “belong to CBS.” She does have small tats on her arms and fingers. Nonetheless, Pauley Perrette is an actor playing a character and “that” as they say is what she will remain for the rest of her life; an actor playing roles. I am not disparaging Ms. Perrette’s acting abilities or the fact that she is an actor, but in reality the job market is a different story and competition is tough. Regardless of discrimination laws and fair hiring practices, a serious organization does not hire clowns. It pains me to think that the sacrifice of so many women throughout history is being washed aside in ink and piercings. Women like Marie Curie, Helen Keller, and Amelia Earhart, who had to fight against stereotypical ideas and notions that women are not to be taken seriously. Add to the equation spider tattoos, nose and tongue piercings and you have a recipe for dismissive reaction by a prospective employer. The old adage that “it should not make a difference” is again total rubbish because we are still living in a society where impressions and conceptions lead to thought and mindset. If you look like a fool, then in my opinion you would be a fool regardless of how deep your intellectual gray cells might be. Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck. Walk into an interview looking like a biker from Hell’s Angels and I doubt that you will be the first consideration for the Chief Financial Officer position!
What frustrates me the most is the complacency of women who take on a decision when they are young without thinking through consequences. One of my favorite comedians is Carlos Mencia who had a stand-up routine called Mind of Mencia. Carlos is fearless, raw, and non-discriminatory when it comes to comedy. In one routine he was deriding tattoos for basically the same reasons I have already described. He hit on a popular tattoo often seen on celebrities: barbed wire around the upper arm. He was eloquent to point out that the barbed wire at 30 will turn to a picket fence at 80! How true, and how visionary!
My almost 98 year-old mother was always telling us that “only those people” had tattoos or piercings. I have already discussed the nebulous “those people” remark by mater, but in this context she was referring to women of lesser breeding. When we were kids, the women she referred to either served liquor behind the bar to sailors, or served sailors in other capacity. That motherly conclusion remained imbedded in my mind. Everyone has choices in life, and those who chose to be or remain “those people” will most probably also remain within that social level and standards. Which brings me to my seething frustrating curiosity: Why is it that women today want to emulate Pauley Perrette and not Condoleezza Rice? Why do they want to look like Snooky and not Audrey Hepburn? Why do they want to settle for pseudo idealistic freedom instead of a successful career? Why do they look for inspiration in Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, and Lady Ga Ga instead of Mother Theresa, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Margaret Thatcher? Why are they settling for the vulgar rather than the elegant? What has changed since we were children when mothers mentored us and encouraged us to reach for the gold?
Maybe I am too conservative, old fashioned, unbending, and set in my ways; but for certainty the women that I looked up to did not find freedom and intellect in tattoos or piercings. They found it in their families who instilled values that would launch them into a successful life. They found it in books and stories about great heroines like Helen Keller, Marie Curie, Florence Nightingale, and others who opened up a world of possibilities to young girls. Is tattooing and piercing just a fad? Will it pass like painted eyebrows and curlers? Or is Carlos Mencia right? Are we going to be looking at a generation of sagging, faded, octogenarians with “picket fences” or worse? Ugh!!!

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