Why young people need body modification [The Publisher’s Ring]

This Article Is A Thought Crime:
Why young people need body modification

“Ninety-nine out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.”

- William Torrey, US Commissioner of Education

One of the dirtiest and hardest to break urban legends in body modification is the idea that there’s some physical reason why young people can’t get piercings. The fact is though that there is no physical reason why people of all ages can’t get tattoos, piercings, scarification, or even more “extreme” modifications. Not only that, there are no valid reasons of any kind unique to minors barring them from body modifications. None. Yet nearly every area bans all or some modifications for those under the age of eighteen, and even more surprisingly, this ban is supported by the vast majority of professional piercers who rationalize it for a variety of questionable reasons.

Like Father, Like Son

I was tattooed as a minor and I was pierced as a minor, including genital piercings. All of these things had a highly positive effect on my life, and I believe were instrumental in helping make me an independent adult capable of thinking — and doing — for myself. I’d like to now take a look at a few of the reasons presented by people opposed to piercing and otherwise modifying minors and break them down, and then propose what I believe the reason for this ban is, and why it’s fundamentally wrong.

FALSE: Young or growing bodies can’t heal modifications.

While an oft repeated lie, this is simply false. For most of human history people have engaged in tattooing, scarification, and piercings to mark puberty and coming of age rites, these acts taking place generally between age ten and fifteen. These modifications “survived” well into adulthood with no ill effects from either the youthfulness of the body or its subsequent growth. If anything, a young healthy person may heal modifications with more resilience and positive results than an aging individual. In any case, there is no functional or biological reason why minors can not successfully be pierced, tattooed, or otherwise modified.

FALSE: Taking care of it is too much for a minor.

This is fundamentally insulting, but it is a reason that’s presented very regularly. First of all, “taking care of” a piercing or tattoo is very easy and it’s well inside the grasp of even a fairly young child. It’s no more difficult than wound care in general (ever cut yourself as a kid?), and certainly far easier than tasks we expect a minor to be able to handle such as taking care of a pet, doing chores around the house, and so on.

FALSE: It’s too big a decision for a minor to make.

It’s somewhat difficult to pinpoint exactly when a person has experienced enough of life to be able to make major decisions, but luckily this is an issue that we’ve had to face in far more grave scenarios than — gasp — a navel piercing. We allow people to drive cars (which actually kill people when things go wrong) in their mid teens. Education decisions that will affect a person’s life far more profoundly than a little scar from a regretted piercing start getting made by people in their early teens. We allow people to marry and have children in their teens — you may disagree with this, but the law does allow it. As decisions go, the potential negative outcomes of a piercing or tattoo are dwarfed by the potential outcomes of many, many other decisions that teens are forced (and permitted) to make.

FALSE: It’s too sexual for a minor to have.

The fact is that minors are out there having sex. Like it or not, it’s rare for someone to “wait” until they turn eighteen or get married. Some people do, but it’s not normal, nor is it legally mandated. Pop music and youth fashion is highly sexualized (and publicly so), far more so than a navel piercing or even a genital piercing (which is private) when it comes down to it. Without a radical puritanical overhaul of Western society such an argument is hypocritical at best.

FALSE: It’s depraved, and young people need to be protected from depravity.

        …or to put it more simply…

FALSE: As long as you’re living under my roof, you follow my rules.

Certainly one can make these sorts of subjective arguments about what’s appropriate behavior and what’s not, but let’s first mention that when you look at human history, body piercing and body modification is normal — our modern Western society is an odd-ball in that we don’t embrace it. In any case, while parents certainly may have some right to control or at least guide their children’s behavior, the government has no place stepping in and making the rules for them. If a parent wants to punish their child for getting an eyebrow ring, they can do so, but it’s not the State’s place to restrict the practice.

So now that we’ve seen that the presented reasons are deceptions, or at best ignorance, let’s talk about the real reason body modification for minors is illegal.

Allowing minors to engage in body modification risks them breaking the bonds of artificially extended adolescence, and helps free them from the bonds of slavery. Modern society is built around a large “slave class” of workers who are subservient to the social machine, and people are kept loyal to it through fear and blindness helped by never allowing individuals to fully move out of childhood. This makes them dependent on the State and the corporation, afraid to strike out on their own into a world that makes individuality and liberty extremely difficult to obtain.

I’ve written in the past about the education system and its goals, and this article is in part a rehash of some of those points. To simplify, the purpose of the education system is to slow down people’s ability to learn independently, making them easy to manipulate and enslave. This was done after the excellent education Americans received in the 1800s started resulting in “class jumping” where poor but well educated and bright individuals became wealthy, and those that were unfairly abused by corporations had “discontent” due to their awareness — a smart, informed person doesn’t like being a slave, they discovered, and it’s hard for rich people to stay so much richer than everyone else without slaves (or as they put it these days, indentured servants low wage employees).

The things that we learn as we graduate high school are within the intellectual grasp of the vast majority of ten year olds, given a functional education that is. I’m sure many of you reading this remember devouring books as a young child, and maybe even being told to “stop reading those books — you’re too young!” when you strayed into the science books (or whatever your interest was).

The truth of the matter is that once you hit about sixteen it’s all downhill from there as far as the way your brain (and your body) works. If you are conditioned before that point to be a slave, it’s harder and harder to break out the older you get. That’s why almost every “primitive” culture — which needed all of its members to help on the hunts, the food gathering, and so on — engaged in body modification and other “manhood” or “womanhood” or “warrior” status rituals at young ages. If people don’t define themselves as strong, independent, and competent people as youths, they will forever be constrained to relying on someone else for guidance and even food. How different is a person who’s been conditioned from birth to be dependent on their government and their employer and unable to go out on their own any different from a slave in the most traditional sense of the word?

While the piercers and parents who parrot these “rules” are largely unaware of this underlying reason, you can bet that the lawmakers are very aware of them and work incredibly hard to sustain this repressive status quo.

With that in mind, let us re-examine the above objections to modified youth.

Eleven years old, self stretched

TRUE: Young or growing bodies can heal modifications.

Young people tend to be healthier and better able to heal modifications than aging individuals. If you’re going to do things like stretch your ears, your body is far more accepting of it the younger you are. In simple terms, the younger you are when you start stretching your ears, the better they will look when you’re done.

TRUE: Taking care of it is easy for a minor.

Caring for body modifications is really quite simple. Even if a minor willfully ignores the care required, the consequences are almost always extremely minor, and can teach young people in a safe fashion what will happen to them if they are not responsible for their decisions.

TRUE: It’s an excellent way for a minor to learn decision making skills.

Body modification is both “minor” and profound at the same time. By taking responsibility over their lives and bodies in this way, young people learn how to take care of themselves and how their decisions affect them.

TRUE: It’s a good way for a minor to learn about their sexuality.

Too much of a minor’s sexuality is out of their control. The media tells them how they have to behave and dress and express themselves, and massive pressure is on them to engage in sexual behavior before they are ready. This is already happening, it’s legal, and it’s very dangerous — teen pregnancy (and abortion), rape, STDs, and other problems are frighteningly common. Body modification allows a young person — or an older person — to take personal control over their sexual identities and encourages responsibility in a safe and healthy way.

TRUE: As long as you’re living under my roof, you follow my rules.

Well, this one might be true as stated, if the parent has limited empathy for their child that is. Children do not always have the same beliefs or interests as their parents, and ultimately, as they start to assert that personality, parents have a choice of going to war over it, or learning to love their child for who they are and making compromises so they can remain a family. Simply saying “no” without real discussion is a poor way to parent and has resulted in far too many broken homes, a tragedy that could have been averted with nothing more than an open mind.

I hope I’ve helped clarify that the end result of allowing young people to modify their bodies is not only positive, but could help catalyze much larger and extremely beneficial societal change. We can move forward to a draconian future where immense government and corporations dictate how the drones lead their lives, or we can move forward to a collaborative utopia where everyone is valuable and everyone is allowed to express themselves, working together for both common and individual goals.

I believe that this freedom is an essential notion, and that unless we imbue it in the youth, our society becomes something far darker than it even is now. Piercers, I’m not asking you to break the law — I’ve already put myself at great risk by writing this — but please don’t keep repeating the lies. Let young people and parents know just how positive body modification is for a young person. Let legislators know that it’s safe and healthy and most of all improves people’s lives.

And young people, all I can say to you is that when I — and most of the current generation of “celebrity” piercers — were your age, there were no studios and we had to pierce ourselves. At least you have the benefits of resources like BME so you’re not running blind like we were! Write about what modification does for you, good and bad, and submit it to BME or your own sites and journals. Write about it for school to help educate your teachers. Try and explain to your parents why it matters to you. Get them involved even. If body modification is good, we can prove it through our lives, right?

But please understand this: This is an uphill battle, and as “mainstream” as body modification is, it’s far from accepted. Don’t join this army unless you’re willing to fight, and fight hard. If you get modifications that the public can see, you will have to work twice as hard to get your share of jobs and education. Do everything you can to educate yourself, both at school and outside of school. Get in shape, learn every skill you can — welding, flower arranging, everything — and just make yourself an amazing individual that can do a lot of things and think intelligently on a lot of subjects. The more “powerful” and independent you are, the more you can assert yourself as an individual, and the less power anyone else has to tell you how you can live your life.

Most of all though, don’t believe their lies, and don’t accept their prison.

Shannon Larratt

Recommended reading: “Underground History of American Education” by John Taylor Gatto. You can read it online for free here. This book will change the way you look at the Western world and its institutions. Read it before it’s banned.

PS. To the nutcases who are calling the FBI because of the photo at the start of this article, of course it’s a fake photo. We don’t live in a perfect world, yet.

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by BMEzine.com LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by BMEzine.com LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

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