The art of body modification

London, ON, Canada / 106.9 The X

Piercings and tattoos are becoming more acceptable in most settings, but what most people don’t know about this way of self expression, is it’s history.

Lee Horton is a piercer at Legacy Tattoo in London, and says nose piercings have been around for thousands of years, “The nose ring predates Christ… That’s why you generally don’t notice somebody with a nose piercing right away, because we’re so used to seeing it in our culture.”

He adds that body modification was also once used to signify one’s place in society. Hunters would pierce the teeth of their kill, through their ears, to show they were better hunters than others.

But today, piercings aren’t used to show wealth, social standing or skill level; so why do people get them? The answer to that question varies.

Horton says some people simply envision themselves a certain way, so they get pierced, or tattooed, not unlike some who get plastic surgery or dress a certain way.

Anna Tripp is a student at Fanshawe College with multiple face piercings, and she says it all started as a form of rebellion, ” When I was little I always wanted to get my nose pierced. I thought it was the baddest thing. Chicks look so bad with a nose ring.” ¬†When she was 16 her mother took her to her nose pierced, and her love for body art has continued to this day.

Though standard piercings such as the nose, tongue and ears have been around for many years, there are a couple forms of body art that are still fairly new. One of them is what’s known as dermal piercings. A dermal piercing is when the jewelry is placed under the surface of your skin, rather than straight though a section of skin.

Subdermal implantation is another form of body modification, which is a lot less common in Canada. This is when a piece of teflon or silicone is implanted under a persons skin. They are often different shapes, such as stars, hearts flowers, or just balls. These often require a surgical procedure, which makes it a more difficult process, due to Canadian law. A piercer is not a surgeon, and Canadian surgeons are often not permitted to perform such procedures.

So if you’re looking to express yourself via body modification, there are a number of ways to do so. Horton advises people to always do your homework before hand. Research shops, look at portfolios and never price shop, “just like tattoos, a cheap piercing isn’t a good piercing, and a good piercing isn’t a cheap piercing.”

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