BME: How old are you and what do you do for a living?
G.C.: I’m 23 and I work in a foundry. I mix the alloys, and transfer and pour the molten iron — it’s not your everyday job but it more than pays the bills and allows me to live the life that I love. I just want to enjoy life to the fullest, with no regrets. My dad always told me to work to live, not to live to work — I think that’s sound advice.
I love to fish, which is when I do my best soul searching — if I catch a fish it’s a bonus. I just love being outside with nature, which leads me on to survival camping, playing Frisbee down the beach, and music is a big part of my life… I couldn’t live without that. It could be said that I like to party a lot, although I’m down to one night a week now… That’s a whole ’nother story. My friends and family are very important to me.
BME: Did you have this job when you started stretching, or did you get it with the piercing in place?
When I started the job, if I remember right, my lip was at 15mm. I suppose I did most of the stretching while I’ve been working there. My employer obviously thinks I look weird and was a bit of a risk to employ but gave me a chance and has since said that I have proved him wrong. Thankfully now they judge me on my work and have said I have a job for life if I want it. I think if I did have to find new work it will hinder me somewhat, but I’d hope from the reference I would get from my current employer it shouldn’t be too difficult to find more work. I have good experience in the industrial trade, plus multiple fork truck licenses.
BME: What got you interested in body modification in the first place?
Probably like most people, the old National Geographic magazines. When I was a kid my dad had a subscription, and since then I’ve always been more interested in tribal culture than just seeing modified people around town.
BME: What made you decide to start pushing your modifications past most people’s borders?
When I was twenty I got offered a well paid job as an engineer for Honda, but I would have had to move and take out all of my piercings. I didn’t want to, but it was such a good opportunity that I did it… I just felt like there was a part of me missing, like I was living a lie. I was incomplete. This might sound sad to some people, but although my mods don’t define me, they are a big part of who I am. I made the decision to stay true to myself, and that has included “going extreme”.
BME: How do most people respond?
My family doesn’t really like it, but they accept it, which is all I ask. Some of my friends think I’ve gone too far, but the outcome is the same — at the end of the day, when they look at me, all they see is Chris. You can tell this when they look you in the eye when they talking. I’ve gone out with mates from work, and someone will come up and ask a question, and afterwards my mate — who isn’t into piercings or tattoos at all — will say, “I forgot that you’ve got all that in your face… I see you every day and you’re just Chris to me.” When someone spends the time to get to know you they realize you ain’t weird at all — strangers can be abusive, but I take that in stride.
BME: What did they think about you in Africa?
A pretty good one really. I was on the west coast in southern Gambia where they don’t and never have, as far as I know, modified themselves, but most didn’t even bat an eyelid. Just instant acceptance — it was really refreshing.
BME: Does the radical stretching affect your dating life?
Not a lot. I still live in my hometown with a big alternative scene, but my last girlfriend didn’t even have a single piercing or tattoo… I’d like to think being a fun person and not being above making a fool out of yourself helps.
BME: How did you do your lip stretching?
It’s been a long time, so hopefully I remember everything right… I got my lip pierced by Sarge at 1.6mm (14 gauge) about six years ago. It healed in a couple months and then I just started to play around with it — just pulling on the labret, really… After four months I went up to 2.4mm, and had loads of room to spare so I went straight up to 3.4mm, then 4mm the next week which finally filled the gap. I think I stayed at this size for about four months — this was also the last size at which I wore jewelry made specifically for a lip until I reached 24mm (1”) some years later. I didn’t get on the Internet at all until I reached 2ga, so I didn’t even know that people made large gauge lip jewelry and just made do with what I could get.
I got a 5mm bullet retainer and just pushed it in — I didn’t use any tapers. It bitched a bit, with a little swelling, but after a week it was fine. I won’t lie though, it was an uncomfortable week. After another week it was looking good so I put in a 6mm tunnel that I blocked with wax and left it in for six months. Then I started stretching again, going up 1mm every two weeks until I was at 15mm. By this time I was using acrylic plugs and cutting a groove around one end for an o-ring to sit in so it didn’t come off all the time. I must have stayed at this size for over a year while I got used to it and before I went past the “point of no return” where I couldn’t downsize any more.
I obviously decided this was for me, and bought a 16mm plug and upsized 1mm every two weeks until I reached 21mm where I stayed, again, for over a year. This was mostly because I couldn’t find suitable jewelry as my lip was getting fatter and the plugs I was using did not have enough wearing surface on them. Then I discovered BME through friends who were already here and I met Karl (iam:MobyK), told him about my plight, and he said he could help and sent me three plates — 22mm, 24mm, and 26mm. I went straight to 24mm, with Diddy’s help who scalpelled it for me. That took a month to heal and I put the 26mm in with ease, and within six months I was at 32mm and left it there while I went to Africa.
When I got back from Africa I put in the 34mm, and then Karl sent me a 36mm, 39mm, and 41.5mm. I put the 36mm in for a month, and then taped it up to 39mm over about a week, which I kept for about eight months, and finally, taped up to the 41.5mm plate which I am wearing now!
G.C. fishing in Africa, and being explored by his snake.
BME: How do you normally wear the piercing?
I wear the plate every day with the lip permanently down. It’s where it is most natural — if I lift my lip up, it hits my nose and I cant close my mouth, hahaha!
BME: How did you stretch your other piercings?
My lobes I did over a period of about two years stretching 1mm at a time. I was very cautious as I snapped my left lobe previously by — to be honest — stretching too quickly. Diddy dermal punched my conches at 5mm where I’ve left them. He did the same with my flats at 8mm, but I’ve stretched the left to 13mm and the right to 17mm, I’ve since downsized to 16mm because I kept losing the plug. I did this stretch over two and a half years. My septum I stretched up 1mm every two to four weeks, up until about 5mm. I left it there for about a year, and then up to 6mm for six months, and then up to 7mm where it’s been for the last year and a half. My nostrils were punched at 8mm and then stretched to 9mm.
BME: Are the different piercings different to stretch?
I would say just different types of pain really, but you come to know them all as old friends… I’ve tried to apply the same stretching ethics to them all — “if it ain’t ready, don’t put it in there, and if it is, woo hoo!”
I would also like to say that after about 20mm or maybe sooner the lip becomes extremely stretchy — far more so than any other piercing, and you can stretch it very quickly if you want to.
BME: Tell me about how your wrecked your lobe?
I’ve had big time trouble with my lobes. I had quite small lobes to start with — non-lobes, really — so it was hard work from the start. It took me a long time to admit it to myself, but I stretched my left lobe too quickly, going from 25mm to 30mm in about a month. Unfortunately I was not blessed with the most stretchy of lobes and this was too much for me. I had a bad blow-out, and instead of removing the tunnel to heal I left it in the lobe, started to lose circulation, and before I knew it, it was too late, and it split. A rookie mistake, from a rookie at the time, but I quite like what I have done to it now and it taught me a valuable lesson: to listen to what my body is telling me! I have had no such problems since, and now I downsize at the first sign of danger.
BME: Any stretching issues with other piercings?
I only had minimal blowout with my lip — nothing more than a cat scratch with all the scarring on the inside of the hole. I had a bit of trouble with my septum. Stretching up to 7mm it kept tearing so I kept going back down to 6mm until it went in nice. It took about four goes but it’s a nice clean hole.
BME: How far will you continue the stretching?
I don’t really have an end goal size — I’ve moved those goal posts so many times. I once said that I was only gonna stretch my lip to 5mm. I don’t think I will know how far I’m gonna go until I get there. But saying that I have always said if one of my mods starts to become a hindrance then I would stop, but this has yet to happen — whether you believe it or not.
BME: Do you have plans for other modifications as well?
I have plans for more scarification in the near future, and have considered subdermal implants down the line and apart from a full tattoo suit, nothing more as yet — but never say never! Evolution is a beautiful thing.
BME: I hope you don’t mind this questions, but some people have suggested that there’s a line past which stretching is no longer visually appealing, and moves into freakish territory — what is your feeling on how aesthetics are interpreted at the borders of how humans express themselves?
I believe in the old saying, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
What one person calls freakish is another person’s normal. I think if you read into it more than that you’re just pushing your beliefs onto someone else. People have to live their own life to be truly happy.
BME: What defines your own personal aesthetic? Is this something you find attractive in others?
I don’t know if I could define my aesthetic. I think its just something that’s evolved with me.
Of course I think women with lip plates of all sizes are very attractive, but it’s not important to me. As I said, my last girlfriend had no piercings or tattoos, but I think that did put a strain on the relationship as she was not used to all the attention. Like Toph had said, it would be easier to date someone with mods because they would be more used to the reactions.
BME: Do you have a reversal plan if you change your mind? I know Toph said he’d just let them close up if he wanted, but you’ve had yours a lot longer and I doubt they’d close.
I don’t think my lip will ever stretch back enough to do a decent repair job on it, although maybe I could with some of the other piercings. However, I am 100% positive that would never happen. This is the path that I have chosen and am most happy with. I did not take this decision lightly. I thought about it long and hard before going too far to turn back. Although my mods don’t define me they are how I feel most comfortable in life and worth all the sacrifice.
G.C. drinking and eating.
BME: Do you have to do things differently with the big lip plate?
When I kiss I take the plate out — I can leave it out for half of the day and have it go straight back in no problems. I drink using my tongue as a bottom lip… and if I’m going down on a girl I turn my head sideways and stick the plate right up there (oh no he ditant!!!). I eat with a knife and fork just the same as everyone else… honestly, there really isn’t a lot of stuff I can’t do now that I could before and my speech is still perfect.
BME: As it’s getting more common, what advice would you have to people considering doing this?
I don’t know how qualified I am at giving advice, but listen to your body and take things at your own pace. If people have questions they can write me.
BME: Thanks for chatting about this!
Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings!
G.C. when I first met him,
before most of the stretching.
G.C.’s stretching begins.
In the time that I’ve known Duff (iam:Duff), she’s gone from a very traditionally and “mainstream” pretty Russian girl, to an absolutely striking woman that’s pushing the boundaries of aesthetics. Both her and her husband now wear lip discs — hers is at 32mm (approaching an inch and a half) — and, with the aid of translation software — my apologies for any errors that have crept in — we talked about her plate as she’s one of the few women in the Western world currently wearing one.
BME: How was your lip piercing made?
Duff: At the Moscow tattoo convention in August I decided to do this, and cut my lip up to 10mm and began stretching. I did the stretching gradually, in one or two millimeter increments, using tape to increase the size. Assisted by my husband (iam:pjevl), I stretched to 32mm over six months.
BME: Was it easy to stretch?
It was only difficult in the beginning. Once I passed 16mm, it went very easily.
Duff before the lip plate
BME: How far do you plan on stretching?
Oh, haha, I have already heard this question probably a million times! In all fairness, I don’t know. For now, it’s interesting and I like it and I don’t have any plans to stop. I keep stretching my lip, but it hasn’t torn yet!
BME: Do you have future body modification plans?
Yes, certainly! I want to continue stretching my lip and my nostrils, and I’d like to re-stretch my earlobes. I took the tunnels out because Moscow is very cold — it’s simply intolerable! Your ears freeze if you don’t wear a scarf and a hat.
I’d like to get more microdermals as well — I already have three in my breasts, but want more. I have many plans — but many are secrets! Definitely I want more tattoos. Ever since I was a child I’ve dreamt about being a mermaid, and I’ve been haunted by this dream until now. When a master tattoo artist that I’m waiting for arrives in Moscow we will begin on this project. Other than that, I also want to get a series of implants in my hands.
BME: What happens if you change your mind?
I am not going to change my outlook — never. I am very sure of it.
In Russia, a lot of people have pierced themselves, stretched very quickly, and are now taking those piercings out and sewing them up. For me it’s not so simple — for me this is my world, my culture, and my happiness. In the beginning, my family was against me doing this, but I’ve been modifying my body since I was very young. My parents never expected me to look like this — they thought up one life for me, but I ignored it and created my own life.
BME: What do you do for a living?
You may be surprised to find out that [I did this at] age sixteen! I study, but I don’t enjoy it. People are wild, and this is not a natural environment. In the spring or summer my husband and I are looking forward to moving to his hometown, far away from the noisy capital, where we plan to save up money so we can travel, which is a dream for both of us. We’d very much like to meet people from all over the planet.
BME: How did you become interested in body modification?
I have been interested in “updating myself” since early childhood. My parents lived in Africa for three years, and I, being a child, read all about this continent and learned everything I could. I saw many modified people, and it was so beautiful to me. My split tongue comes from my love of snakes — our neighbors had a pet snake, and I wanted to share something with it.
I remember when I was eleven years old I asked my mother whether I could pierce my eyebrow. After many arguments, I was allowed to go to a professional. I don’t consider piercings to be a political act — it’s simply pleasant to me, and I find it interesting that by piercing the body I can strongly change it and make it so much more beautiful.
BME: What made you go so extreme?
I do not think that it is so extreme! In addition to the images I saw as a child, my husband had a 32mm lip — I looked at it, and it was so beautiful and unusual that I wanted to have it as well.
BME: How do people in Russia respond to modifications like yours?
I think you’ll be very surprised — even though I live in Moscow, the capital, it feels like I like in a small village where the people are primitive and have never seen anything before. When I walk on the street I have to cover up, or everyone stares with such amazement that it becomes unpleasant. Many people shout at me, ask to take pictures, and treat me as a circus amusement.
BME: You’re one of the only women I know with a lip plate. Do you think it’s different for a woman to do this, moreso a man?
I don’t believe there is a difference. We are all flesh and blood. The main thing that’s important is that a person knows themselves, feels themselves on the inside, and understands whether these body modifications are right for them.
BME: So you find this beautiful, both in yourself and others?
Yes, certainly it is beautiful and attractive. Updating my body also changes my soul, making it brighter and more beautiful, and with every body modification I become happier and happier. I would love to meet more people, and I hope that when we begin to travel we’ll have the opportunity to meet people like Toph, Karl (iam:MobyK), Zack (iam:SoulOfACokeDealer), and many others. I only wish I knew English better!
BME: And I wish I spoke better Russian! Thank you for talking to me.
Duff with her 32mm disc
G.C. today, at 41.5mm