body piercing: jacquelyn’s story
from issue three: by Jacquelyn Curtis
My mum is pretty conservative by nature. She doesn’t smoke, loves Elton John and goes to church on Sundays. So you can imagine that when she called me at work one afternoon and asked me to come with her when she got her navel pierced, I was quite shocked.
“Hey, darling, do you still want to get your belly-button pierced? Because I want to get mine done too. Lets get it done together.”
This statement shocked me on two levels. Firstly, I was kind of annoyed that she even suggested the idea of having something pierced. I distinctly remember begging my parents to death when I was 16 because I desperately wanted to have my navel pierced. Unfortunately, my efforts fell upon deaf ears. I think the words ‘disgusting’ and ‘feral’ may have been tossed about in response to my proposed new piece of jewellery. Now, here was my mum, not even three years later, suggesting that she do the exact thing she herself so vehemently forbade me to do! Secondly, the fact that my 40-plus mother, who after bringing four children into the world was even contemplating a piercing, registered fairly high on the shock scale. (Don’t get me wrong: Mum can put a lot of 30-year-olds to shame.)
So, naturally, I declined her offer.
However, I didn’t count on Mum’s persistence, and over the next few days, she convinced me to change my mind. About five days later we were both sporting new navel-jewels and had incredibly sore bellies.
When I asked Mum what motivated her decision to get a piercing, she told me she ‘wanted to do something for herself.’ What perplexed me was how she could so radically change her opinion about body piercing! Not only did she decide that she no longer disapproved of the practice, she also decided that she liked it enough, accepted it enough, to try it herself.
I wasn’t the only person who was surprised at the uniqueness of our situation. The piercer who performed the ‘procedure’ said we were definitely the first mother-daughter combination to have requested her services. Although while surprised at the abnormality of having Mum as a client, she commented, “it’s refreshing to see someone who is not part of the youth generation embrace body piercing” and “who didn’t judge people who have a body piercing as the scum of society.”
It isn’t breaking news that a lot of our parents and their generation stereotype body piercers and people who have body piercings as the downfall of society. Often they have no justification for this belief, they simply heap all advocates of body-piercing into the ‘hooligan’ and ‘juvenile delinquent’ basket. Even in today’s society, that claims to be more tolerant and open-minded, it seems amazing to me that some people can still rationalise judging someone on their appearance alone.
It seems ridiculous, to say the least, to suggest that just because someone has a piece of metal through some excess skin they automatically become a disrespectful person who lacks any amount of conscience. While I’m not denying that there are people who have piercings that partake in activities society looks down upon, they do so because they want to, not because a piercing forced them to!
That is why (after coming to terms with Mum’s decision) I decided that I am proud of her choice. I am proud because she chose to abandon her ‘old school’ views of conformity and stopped judging people based upon how they look. The decision to have something pierced should be exactly that, an individual’s choice that they have the right to make without prejudice or discrimination.
In having her navel pierced, Mum was not only subject to a considerable amount of pain, she also did something to better herself. A lot of mothers and women out there might say ‘get a new outfit’ or ‘dye your hair,’ but I am pleased Mum chose to get her navel pierced. By embracing body piercing, she not only abandoned any misconceptions that she previously held, she gained a better understanding of what it is like to be judged by your appearance and the decisions you make. (Mum claims telling Grandma wasn’t a pleasant experience!)
But by far the best result of Mum’s navel ring is that she is now more tolerant and accepting of other members of society. While I don’t suggest that you start convincing your Dad that a nipple ring would look great on him, perhaps the lesson to be learned here is ‘don’t knock it until you try it.’