COLLEGE WRITING FINAL PAPER

COLLEGE WRITING FINAL PAPER - Body Piercings, Tattoos, and...

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Body Piercings, Tattoos, and PERSONAL Identity College Writing Fall 2007 FINAL PAPER
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Body Piercings, Tattoos, and Personal Identity I remember when I was in Kindergarten at P.S. 191. It was late 1993. Our class had “monitors,” who were fifth grade students that were in charge of taking us outside during recess and watching us during lunch. One of my monitors, Jackie, had long, brown hair. One day at recess, she pulled her hair back into a ponytail and revealed three sparkling earrings in each ear. My eyes were glued; it was as if someone was dangling a million dollars right before my eyes. I put my hand on my own ears, which each had just one single stud. Shortly thereafter, I was playing with the kids on my block when one of them, a twelve-year-old girl named Donna, stuck out her tongue at me. She had gotten her tongue pierced! I tried to imagine the procedure but drew a blank. From then on, the idea of body modifications intrigued me. I really had no idea that it was possible to have more than one earring in each ear, let alone a barbell going through one’s tongue. My experience seems to be a common one. I grew up in the 90s; I remember the good ol’ days when Kurt Cobain was still playing live on VH1. America was drifting away from the 80s, and the grunge era was taking over. Adolescents struggled to establish their identities in extraordinary ways. Much to parents’ dismay, teens all over the world were aching for body piercings, and even worse, tattoos. I had a friend in elementary school whose father was a professional tattoo artist. Fast forward to 2007 – he has tattooed almost all of my friends, and some of their parents.
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the rise since the early 90s. Even Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean had a labret piercing (pronounced LAY-bret; a facial piercing under the lip), and a handful of tattoos. This must have been part of his “bad boy” image, though it was easy to find quite attractive when I was a fourth grader who was obsessed with the Backstreet Boys. I, of course, spent the next few years begging my mom to let me get a labret piercing. Luckily for most, parents can only say “no” for so long; piercings and tattoos seem to be most common in college undergraduates, who are “free” for the first time (Guimarin 1). They use body modification as a way to establish their personal identities. They also have the legal right (the state ID needed) to get “inked;” many college students get tattoos on their 18 th birthdays. Body piercings and tattoos are often performed to commemorate milestones in one’s life – birth of a child, death of a loved one, anniversary, engagement, graduation, etc. Each modification has meaning to the person who receives it. In fact, no two people have the same modifications. Even people who have similarly placed piercings probably do not wear identical jewelry, and it is highly unlikely that any two people have identical tattoos, unless they obtained matching tattoos on purpose. This makes each
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This note was uploaded on 04/04/2008 for the course LWR I taught by Professor Taubenfeld during the Fall '07 term at SUNY Purchase.

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COLLEGE WRITING FINAL PAPER - Body Piercings, Tattoos, and...

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