Losing Your Lobes: An Interview With David Kitts

A little while ago, we got an e-mail from a man named David Kitts. Having been around the body modification community for about a decade, he’d stretched his lobes to two inches, but recently underwent surgery to reconstruct them to their original state—the idea and process of which has left him conflicted at best. He felt like his story could be useful as a cautionary of sorts, and so we spoke to him. In our interview, he discusses why he went the surgery route, what the procedure itself entailed, the effects it’s had on him mentally and more—after the jump.

BME: First off, just for some background, what do you do for a living?

David Kitts: Well, I’ve been in and out of piercing and performing some of the heavier mods for about eight years now, working straight jobs when I couldn’t afford to work at shops. I have been, for several months, working for myself rehabbing old bikes, mopeds and motorcycles, and just got a decent job at a large-box sporting goods store.

BME: So, at what point did you realize body modification was going to be an important part of your life?

DK: When I was about 16, I heard about a local 4:20 shop in Lexington, South Carolina, that also had a piercing shop. I started hanging out mainly because of my parents’ hatred of piercings, and I read a book they had there—I can’t remember the name, but it did have a “pierced” cover with a large CBR—and was fascinated. (This was back in 1999-2000, before it really became fashionable to have “belly” rings and all that.) The day after my birthday, I got my ears pierced at 10 gauge and bought a set of eight gauges for when I could go up. There was a guy there named Lonnie who had a ton of facial piercings and a set of early monster CBRs that were a half-inch and 10.3 ounces each; I have them now. I loved the way it looked, and the impermanence of it was kinda nice. It didn’t hurt for as long as a tattoo did, but it still made the wearer, for the most part, beautiful.

Since then, I’ve had 257 piercings (I’ve kept track), including cheeks, three bridge, eight nape (that were 1.5-inches long point-to-point) and 1.25-inch-long surface bars vertically in the back of my arms, three each side. Also, the one that freaked the piercer out was a two-inch-long, 10-gauge madison done with Tygon.

BME: Now, the photos you sent in recently showed your ears post-surgery after having your two-inch lobes closed up. First of all, how long did it take you to get your lobes to that size?

DK: I got to one inch in a bit under two years. I got stuck for a while, because of jobs and lack of jewelry, but one day I tried to shove something in that was bigger and they went fast as hell after that. I went from a little bigger than a Coke cap to two inches in six months. My ears stretched on their own, probably because I played with them (unconsciously) during the day and slept with the earrings in. In fact, the large tunnels I had that were my “goal,” I wore for a week before they fell out.

BME: How long ago did you get your lobes up to that size?

DK: About eight, months or so. I got to two inches and was happy as hell; that was a “size goal,” as it were. I was already heading past it when I had surgery.

BME: It sounds like this was something into which you’d put some effort and of which you were proud, but we’re talking today because you’ve since had your lobes reconstructed. What led to this?

DK: Well, regarding that “goal” of two inches, I said that I’d consider getting them put back to “normal” after. So, when I got there, ironically, I was introduced to one of Charleston’s top plastic surgeons. We got to talking and he agreed to do the work, way before I realized what exactly I was doing, but I had a few months to decide whether or not to go through with the surgery due to schedule conflicts, so no big deal.

I had been out of a “real” job since December, and no one would hire me because of the piercings. The tattoos on my hands and arms were fine, the bats on my neck were OK, even my stretched nostrils were passable, but not the ears. And hey, I’m almost 27, so I sat down one night and went over everything: How I felt about how I looked versus “mainstream” people, and the future. This was a chance that I couldn’t pass up—having my lobes redone, that is—but I didn’t know if I could live with myself if I did. I felt like I’d be giving in. I’ve always been a fighter for individuality. I tried to make sure I stood up for people who expressed themselves differently, be they transgendered or just heavily tattooed, I didn’t care—it’s a choice. I just happened to go a little more into the deep end, as it were.

So, for about three weeks, I struggled with whether or not I would be OK with myself afterward, if my friends would be, and what would happen. For all I knew, I could do all this and never get another real job and be severely pissed because of it. But, I figured I could always redo the ears if time allowed, and that I’d be an idiot to not give the surgery a chance. So I went for it. It’s been hard dealing with day-to-day things now. Harder than I expected.

BME: Just to backtrack for a minute, you said that beforehand, you considered shrinking your ears back down to “normal” once you reached two inches. By “normal,” do you mean a smaller diameter, or closed up as they are now? And what was the motivation to reach two inches if you had already decided it could just be a temporary thing?

DK: I was referring to getting surgery when I got to two inches. I knew it’d take a while to let them shrink, and I think I was well past being able to go back to something “socially acceptable.” I wanted them forever—it wasn’t a temporary decision. When I got to two inches (I figured it’d be quite a while), I’d evaluate my life and see if anything needed to be done. If life was good, I’d keep them. If not, I’d figure something out—either let them shrink as much as they’d go, or surgery. Basically, I’d get to two inches and see where the lobes fit into my life and deal with them accordingly.

BME: Got it. So obviously, they were interfering in a way that was complicating your life. How did you end up meeting the surgeon who did the procedure? Had he done that specific kind of work before?

DK: A friend of mine introduced us at some function; we got to talking about it and he said he’d be willing. Not too sure if he had done this specifically, but he had mentioned he’d worked on some people who had ripped lobes (like little old ladies). But, he provided me a good service. He’s strictly a facial surgeon—he does a lot of charity work for children with cleft palates, making them more “normal” and all. He works from the neck up, and there’s another doctor in the office that works from the neck down.

BME: Was it an expensive procedure?

DK: It cost me $1,300, and I got a good deal.

BME: What did the procedure entail?

DK: Well, at least one week before, he wanted me to take the jewelry out so that the lobes could relax some. (I didn’t label them like I wanted, but in those pictures, the ones where my lobes look all fat are the day of, right before surgery.) When I went in, pictures were taken and I was led to a “recovery suite” to wait. When we finally went up to the O.R., it was all very quick. After being covered and cleaned, he injected a shot of local anesthetic in each lobe that had a vascular constrictor in it to slow blood flow. I couldn’t feel anything past that.

He started by taking surgical scissors to the right lobe and just cut 80 percent off. I may have had about a quarter inch on each side left. He had to cauterize the right lobe because the constrictor wasn’t fully effective yet, but the pain killer was (thankfully). After some measuring, he trimmed the ends a bit (where he already cut) and skinned my inner lobe into an upside-down “U” to remove the skin that used to sit on the saddle of the jewelry. That was done so that when he sewed me up, there wouldn’t be any little holes where healed skin was left. He repeated the same steps for the left side, but the skin in the front of my lobe near the tragus was thinner than the right lobe, so it went faster with a lot less trimming needed. I think it’s the more normal-looking of the two.

After all was cut, he sewed me mostly with dissolving stitches—about eight in each ear, I think he said. He did add one stitch from my lobe to my neck to promote them healing “down,” and he forgot to test the area on my neck to see if it was numb before that. It wasn’t numb, but the pain wasn’t bad. Afterwards, beyond NeoSporin, there were no special instructions. They healed almost completely in a week, and I went to the beach in a week and a half. And thats it! Fun. The weirdest part was being awake the whole time and hearing the scissors cutting. It sounded like cardboard.

BME: That seems pretty straightforward. And how long ago did you have it done?

DK: Two weeks ago, and I got hired to a good position at a sporting goods store after putting in two applications on Thursday of last week. So yeah, I’d say it worked.

BME: So you feel comfortable attributing that quick turnaround to the surgery, then?

DK: Oh, yeah. I asked about a job before and the manager rejected me and told me why. Then I came back after the surgery and he said he wanted me to work there now that my lobes were back to normal.

BME: But even still, you say it’s been hard to deal with.

DK: Yeah. More personally than anything.

BME: How so?

DK: Well, for years I’d had these stretched ears. I always got the, “Did that hurt?” question, and had come-backs for just about anything people could throw at me. I also had a reason when people stared at me. I knew why, but when I went out without the lobes, people still stared, and it felt like I lost my shield. I felt defenseless, and it scared me. I still feel the same way, and it bothers me now more than ever when people give me weird looks. It used to be easily written off—now, not so much. And when I look in the mirror, I’m not happy. It looks like a fake me, like someone else, and it really bugs me. It was such a big part of my life, now that they’re gone it really bothers me. I’ve lost a few friends too, and now I have to go through explaining to everyone that knew me before why I did this. And I still get asked if it fucking hurt.

BME: Without getting too Dr. Phil about this, why on earth would you lose friends over something like this? That seems ridiculous.

DK: I know. But to them, they viewed me as a sellout. In one’s words, I “turned my back on them,” which is B.S., but whatever.

BME: B.S. indeed. Before the surgery, did you expect your personal adjustment would have been easier than it has been?

DK: Yeah. I figured I’d miss the “old me,” but I didn’t think it would be anything like it is now. You know the biggest insult I’ve gotten so far? “You look so much better now!”

BME: So, between not quite feeling like yourself minus your stretched lobes and having others call you a “sellout,” what do you think? Do you consider yourself a sellout or anything like that?

DK: A tiny bit, yes, because I don’t think I should have to change for a job. I’m still as good an employee with the lobes, and I feel that I, and everyone else, should be accepted for who we are. It’s not like I got all this shit done to not get a job, you know? I just wanted to be beautiful, the way I saw it. I could still sell stuff or do any number of jobs, but because of the way I looked, I was prejudged as a “bad person” and unemployable. There are only so many Hot Topics in an area, and working as a bouncer kinda sucks. But I am doing what’s best for me and my future now that I’m a little bit older and wiser.

BME: Knowing what you do now and how things have turned out, do you regret stretching your lobes that big in the first place?

DK: Not at all. The friends I’ve made, the conversations that have been started with them—hell, I even won a trip to see the Jerry Springer show because of them. I hope to have opened some people’s eyes to this type of modification. I’ve spoken at some schools on the right way to get pierced, and the importance of waiting (pre-surgery) and plan on doing the same after. My ears did get me a job at a few haunted houses. Imagine a 250-pound, six-foot-tall tall guy with running chain-saws attached to his lobes running at you.

I will continue to advocate modifying yourself as you see fit, so long as it is in a safe environment. And I will still get modified in other ways. There’s plenty left for me to do, and now I can say I’m an amputee of sorts—I nullo’d my lobes [laughs].

BME: Before we wrap up, anything you’d like to add?

DK: Sure. The main reason I came to you to put this out there is because I know there are a lot of young readers on BME, and this experience is for them. People like Allen Falkner and Erik Sprague don’t need to hear this, but the ones that go on ModBlog and who do see the glory and beauty in modification, there can be a harsh reality that, if you don’t plan on it, can come back and bite you in the ass. I just want people thinking about doing this to know there are consequences, but I don’t want to divert anyone—I just want to show both sides. I wouldn’t change anything I’ve done at all. I loved my lobes when I had them, and I miss them and am dealing with the emotions without them now, but I stand by my choices.

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81 thoughts on “Losing Your Lobes: An Interview With David Kitts

  1. Good story but the guy’s only 2 weeks post-surgery so I hope he will feel better about it soon. It sounds like he had solid reasons for wanting to get his lobes cut off and it’s been beneficial in terms of getting a job. If you need to eat you need to eat. That’s not selling out by any means. And if you have friends who will stop being your friends if you change your appearance – whether for getting mods or undoing them – maybe it’s for the better.

    IMHO young adults who aren’t sure that they can find a work environment which is very tolerant of body modifications should hold off on stretching lobes. I don’t plan to go beyond the point where a plug would look like a circular stud earring. I can always wear tunnels or big hanging glass things on the weekend. =)

  2. looks like someone couldn’t handle the social consequences of his hasty actions. way to give in to peer pressure.

  3. I own my own business, selling tools to mechanics and shops. I have my hands tattooed, my tongue split and septum pierced. For almost a year I sported a 6″ tall mohawk. I have had people tell me flat out, “We can deal with all of that stuff, but if you ever show up with those big stretched out ears, that is it! We’d toss you out.”. I am not sure why but that as the dividing line seems to be pretty common. I am just glad I have found a place to be that lets me be myself and still have a career.

    Some people need to think about that.

    And society can be a bit more than “peer pressure”. We on BME love to say how everyone should just accept modified people, but it just isn’t how things are. Sometimes you need to think about others reactions to things and where you are going to work. Let me know how it works out when you can’t pay rent or find a job even doing crap work.

  4. I’m sorry but this is ridiculous. This guy contradicts himself all over the place. There were times that he had to slow down the process of stretching his ears because he couldn’t afford jewelry but when it comes to getting a job at A FRIGGING SPORTING GOODS STORE?! he has $1300 to blow?!

    Dude, you feel like you gave in because you did! You feel like a sellout because you are!

    I don’t see how someone can say “I’ve always been a fighter for individuality. I tried to make sure I stood up for people who expressed themselves differently, be they transgendered or just heavily tattooed, I didn’t care—it’s a choice.” And the turn around do this. You certainly are fighting for individuality.

    I hope this is a hoax. What a pathetic story.

  5. your not a sell out. and they obviously were not your “real friends” if they only liked u for lobes. idk. i feel really bad about this whole situation. and it has nothing to do with me other then i have measly 1/2 in lobes

  6. i agree with colin.. i think he is full of bs.. a piercer who goes to work for a sporting goods store.. whatever,,,,get a real job at 2 i would think he would of known better… im calling bs….

  7. “Selling out” is such a stupid term.
    He obviously needed a job. He seemed to be in a situation where it was, lose the lobes, or don’t work. Work brings in money (and, hopefully, satisfaction) and, to most of the population, you need it. Want a place to live, a computer? Well, its not free.
    Personally, I have no problem removing piercings, dying my hair, wearing long sleeves in July, or even closing my lobes (which I want to do anyways because they’re thin) to survive or do something I like.
    IMHO, its a priorities thing.

  8. Wow, chill out Colin. He can do what he wants. They are HIS ears and if he wants to make them normal sized again to better his job choices then he is well within his rights to do so. It doesn’t make him a sell out. Like everyone else he needs to eat, pay bills and have a place to sleep and if the ears were the only thing stopping him from such things then it makes perfect sence to get rid of them.. It’s a bitch world but most employers wont take you if you don’t look relatively normal, especially in Retail where it’s a customer relations based job. It intimidates people which means they don’t come back, which means the place loses money, which means people lose their jobs. Cruel facts of life.

  9. if it makes you feel any better, Mr. David Kitts, i think you look pretty awesome with or without the lobes. :D and thank you for this, i’m stretching my lobes now and i always think of how life will be when i’m older, so this helps me find a different outlook, since i only ever see ‘fuck the system’, ‘if they won’t hire you, they’re assholes’, etc.

  10. A lot of plastic surgeons offer financing… Maybe he did that? Ever think about that?

    And think of an education, “it takes money to make money”.

  11. Its funny how different employers view things. For example, I work in a bakery where Its mandatory for all males to shave everyday before work, no earrings or piercings of any kind, yet my full sleeves have never once even been brought up by anyone in management. Go figure?

  12. So because he doesn’t want stretched lobes anymore, he’s suddenly a sellout? I thought this community was all about personal choice. I must have thought wrong.

  13. He might have financed the procedure. I mean don’t plastic surgeons offer financing sometimes? I know some companies specialize in financing for like dental procedures.

  14. Im half an half on this. I wont say he’s a sell out but i would say wasn’t there anyway to find a job acceptable of mods? I dunno really i mean i suffer a similar issue, i have one large lobe an one split and heavy facial tattoo work an find job finding hard but thats more as im unskilled rather than modified, most jobs seem more tolerant here in the uk. But if i had the chance at a good job an faced a choice to lose my visible mods that would be a hard choice to make. As to the ‘friends’ they weren’t worth it if they leave for you chopping lobes.

  15. i love how people who have been getting tattooed or pierced, or shit, are simply on iam so they think they are such rebels, for like a year or two know so much about the world.

    getting pierced is a choice to modify your body. SO IS GETTING YOUR EARS SEWN UP. if you have had lobes for liek a decade and now you want normal ones, thats the same thing as stretching them in the first place. you are just doing what you feel you need to do for yourself.

    it sounds like some of you KIDS are the ones who are completely controlled by peer pressure. in the future, if you decide its right for you to, say, get your lobes reversed, are you not going to because then everyone on iam will call you a sellout and think you are uncool now?

    funny how you get so up in arms when someone criticizes someone elses mods on here, but you are the first to criticize someone getting shit reversed.

  16. ok, now that i have read the article, people put way too much importance on tattoos and piercings. do it for yourself, dont do it to be part of some online community or look cool. jeez.

  17. I’ve been having a huge personal debate lately about closing my 5/8 earlobes. Its funny that this was posted in the midst of that.

    In my opinion, for as much reason that stretching your ears is a personal choice, choosing to close stretched ears is also a very personal choice. It really surprises, and saddens, me to know that David actually lost friends, because of his choice. Almost like they were only your friend because of your modifications? If i do end up closing my ears, and a friend decides to not speak to me because of that, its clear that they were never a friend at all.

  18. Double u Tee Eef!? Where does this guy live? I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around streached nostrils being more welcome in the workplace then big lobes. I don’t think he made a bad choice either way. I can’t say I would make the same choices in his position bit it seems to me he is just doing what is right for him at that moment in his life. Still, I can’t help but think his situation odd. I live in the uber conservitive midwest and find that streached ears are far more widely accepted then anyother visible mods…

  19. some of the initial responses here absolutely disgust me. Facing unemployment because of your ears (as specifically mentioned by at least one potential employer) is as stupid as facing starvation because of your vegetarianism/dietary preferences.
    When it comes down to the bottom line, the very least we do with our lives is exist. When our ability to do that comfortably is threatened, sometimes we just fucking have to do things we don’t want to do. Ears vs. bills? I’d say maybe the ears have to go. The fact that people are looking down on Kitts for choosing this route makes me wonder what sort of luxurious situation you all live in that you can find comfortable jobs in this present-day economy without compromising your appearance and, on top of that, maintaining a condemning and self-righteous attitude towards others and their choices in modification.

    Fucking pathetic, is what it is.

  20. Lol… Ok, so to the people saying he is a sellout(which is so not even how you would describe this even if you think he is)… would you rather be a benefit bum if every single job turned you away because of your piercings(the things that aren’t permanent and can be done again and again) or suck it up, take them out and get a real job!!!! I have lots of tattoos, piercings and stretched lobes and if i was getting turned away from every single job because of my piercings or lobes, well gee, the intelligent people would take them out. Lucky for me I’ve never been unemployed!

  21. Stretched lobes intimidate people out of shopping there again? But having Mr. Charlie Burn victim dripping flesh on your sandwich doesn’t?

  22. so, i’ve been coming back, reading these comments and there’s a lot going on with the phrase “sell out.” i think this is a bad phrase to use in almost every sense i’ve ever heard it. yes, this dude made the decision to stretch his lobes and, yes, he made the decision to get them cut off and sewn up. i know a lot of people who have done this and respect their decisions. the problem that i have with this specific case is that it seems that his decision to stretch up (like lots of other folks that are stretching in recent days) was a hasty one. “I went from a little bigger than a Coke cap to two inches in six months.” That is ridiculous. Even the thought of stretching to an inch in two years, ” I got to one inch in a bit under two years,” is hasty, in my opinion. This dude stretched up so fast that he couldn’t even take the time to see how this CHOICE was socially effecting him. So, yes, stretching and surgery were both choices but it seems that the choice to stretch and, mainly, how quickly he chose to stretch (for him and many others) were BAD choices.

    mandic: i’m pretty sure the last part of comment #2 was geared toward me. many people in this community are quick to make decisions on getting work done (tattooing/piercing/implanting/etc) and are not thinking of the social consequences because mom and dad are still helping to pay the bills or whatever the case may be. i can see why this dude had trouble getting a job at a SPORTING GOODS STORE. however, i know a lot of modified people who have good jobs (other than piercing/working in shops) that make them a decent living. as for your specific attack (at, again, what i believe was targeted at me) regarding paying the bills/rent, i’m not worried. my ducks are quite in a row… but thank you for your concerns. and, yes, we on BME love to say that being modified is great and blahblahblah but, you’re right, society doesn’t necessarily agree. if you’re going to be visibly modified and would also be able to leave your home, then you’ve got to have a strong will and you’ve got to try extra hard to be accepted in our society (generally speaking). had this dude taken his time in the stretching process, he might have realized sooner that he didn’t have a strong enough will to get to “two inches” and be “happy as hell” for less than two seconds.

  23. edit: **would also like to be able to leave your home** not “would also be able to leave your home.” — sorry for the typo.

  24. rachel (granule) and mandic both make some good points, but my problem with this whole story is that this guy is trying to turn around and hype his story to bme like it’s some morality tale for all the youth out there. i’d have more respect for him if it was an aesthetic choice. yes, you may have to take drastic measure to live in the “real world” in spite of your modifications, but this is not some new revelation. moreover, having seen so many heavily modified people succeed in their lives regardless of their modifications makes this whole “morality tale” all the more repugnant.

  25. Colin and Cooley: This article is a brief summary of a part of his life. Not all details are going to be explained in full, so you have no right to judge. As Mandic said, maybe he got the procedure financed. Maybe he took out a loan. Maybe he’s making monthly payments.

    Also I’d like to express dismay over the prejudice directed towards his job. As a fellow blue collar American who doesn’t have mommy and daddy paying my way through life, especially during this rough economic time, I don’t see why he should be ashamed of making a living and taking care of himself. A job doesn’t have to be glamorous or fulfilling as long as it puts food on the fucking table.
    Yes, there are some of us that are moded that are poor and have to forgot self expression because when it comes down to having a mod or eating, we’d rather fucking eat. Sorry to burst your pampered bubble, but there’s a lot of us that will take what ever we can get. Bullying someone by calling them a “sellout” or “conformist” for having their well being in mind reveals how sheltered and unaware of what sacrifice truly is some people are.
    Saying moded people can get better jobs than that is just… fucking retarded especially considering a lot of even unmoded people can’t get jobs better than what’s available at their local Wal Mart (IF they’re lucky) in this day and age. Moded people aren’t all trust fund brats, yuppies or even middle class and financially stable. Hell, some of us aren’t even college educated (gasp!!).

  26. Self-righteous rants beget type-o’s and poor grammar. Forgot=forgo. I’m sure there’s others in there too. But in short, not everyone can pick and choose their jobs. Sorry.

  27. I think this is something that we are going to see a lot more of. Kids are way too hasty in doing these extreme body modifications. It has become more of a fashion than a passion. Body modifications need commitment. You need to think about your future before you undergo anything that can not be reversed or erased without surgery.

  28. Theres a fine line between commitent and being able to eat.
    On the other side of things away from the back and forth here, im having my split lobe repaired soon hopefully an i love where david says the cutting was audible and sounde like cardboard lol! Fills me with dread for my procedure haha.

  29. Anyone who still has that “I’ll never give up my mods for a job” mindset is either stupid, or too young to understand how things work in the real world. If it comes to providing for yourself, and possibly others, how could anyone let something metal in their face stop them from doing it? I’ve taken out piercings for jobs, and later on when I’ve gotten more accepting jobs, I was able to get them redone.

    I think that he made a very wise decision and I can’t believe he was cast out by some “friends” for being a “sellout.” How is doing something that will better your life like this selling out? Just because the size of your earlobes changed, it doesn’t change who you really are. I think it’s safe to say that those people were not true friends in the first place or they would still be there regardless of what mods you still have.

  30. Also, I am completely with Rose on this one. People living in the real world where they don’t have their mommy to pay their way have to make a living somehow. It’s easy to not be such a ‘conformist sellout’ when you aren’t footing any bills and your parents still take you to hot topic any time you need new clothes. I mean honestly, would you rather have a few body mods or be able to put a roof over your families head and be able to feed them. Not to mention pay the car bills, electric, water, doctor bills, groceries, and everything else that comes along with being an adult.

  31. where did all of this vitriol against so-called trust-fund babies come from? i know very few people (at least personally) who are in that position, and of the ones who are, NONE of them are modified, aside from the occasional “rebellious” tongue or eyebrow piercing. most of the more heavily modified people i know have had to pay their own way, regardless of whether they now make a living in blue- or white-collar type jobs. i’m not sure how economic status became a part of this conversation, but i think it only serves to distract from the real issue here and turn it into a discussion of “haves” vs. “have nots.”

  32. To all the people who completely missed the point:

    I completely understand and agree that it was his own will and right to close up his ears. The problem is that this isn’t a story about a guy who wanted the procedure because he personally didn’t like his lobes anymore. After the procedure he says ” when I look in the mirror, I’m not happy. It looks like a fake me, like someone else, and it really bugs me. It was such a big part of my life, now that they’re gone it really bothers me.” and “Yeah. I figured I’d miss the “old me,” but I didn’t think it would be anything like it is now. You know the biggest insult I’ve gotten so far? “You look so much better now!”

    And as far as calling the guy a sellout goes, he called himself a sellout. “Do you consider yourself a sellout or anything like that?

    DK: A tiny bit, yes, because I don’t think I should have to change for a job. I’m still as good an employee with the lobes, and I feel that I, and everyone else, should be accepted for who we are.”

    Did you people even read the entire interview?

    The aim of the interview is all wrong. Or at least the moral is. Yes, you should think about all mods seriously before you get them. Perhaps the true moral of this story is put your $1300 towards job training instead.

    I’ve been paying my own way since I was 17. I had my lobes pierced with 8 gauge needles when I was 19 and at 28 my they’ve been at 1″ for about 5 years. I’ve never had any problems getting a job.

  33. Alright, I’ve been reading this for a little bit now..and while I didn’t really care to post before in regards to the ear reversal, I feel at this point I probably should make some comment.
    I think his decision to stretch his ears was not thought out well. I don’t think he is a sellout and I feel bad that he lost friends. All that I have to say in regards to his decision is what he already said…people need to think out their actions and not make hasty decisions when it comes to modifications that require surgery to repair.

    I am a blue collar worker, I have worked in a few different factories, and I am now working as a welder. I have not had my parents support me, I paid my own way through the training that I’ve had, I pay my own rent/utilities/car payment/insurance/etc. I bought all of the cars I have owned without help from anyone else. Now, keeping all that in mind, I have 2 5/8 inch ears a few piercings in my face, horn implants, and my hands tattooed. Sure, I take a bit of abuse at work, and everywhere else I go. But I wouldn’t give up my ears/tattoos/implants for anything. There are a couple of piercings I would take out for a job, but the things I care about are staying.

    The thing that I think everyone is overlooking is that just because you are a blue collar worker doesn’t mean that you can’t have the modifications that you want. You just need to be skilled enough to create some demand for your abilities. I know that even though I look “weird” to pretty much everyone in my chosen trade, I will always be able to find work..and so can anyone else. You just need to put forth the effort instead of taking the easy way out if it is something that you truly care about.

    My wife, granule (Rachel) and I both work really hard to get what we have. I don’t have a college education (I barely made it through high school) and she is going for her masters degree in metalsmithing this coming spring. In terms of jobs/education, we’re very opposite. The point is, we both make this work because we’ve thought our actions through and attained modifications slow enough to understand the social consequences that we were getting/have gotten ourselves into.

  34. #22, #26

    I agree with alot of what you have to say. I recently gave up my 1/2 labret because it was too much to have it and try to find work. Luckily mine shrunk down to a 4gauge and my facial hair covers the hole, I don’t slobber on myself so no big deal to me, if I could afford to have my lobes closed I would do that too, some of us that have mods are’nt kids anymore and we never had big plans on being the next big tattoo artist like on miami ink. To those of you criticizing him, grow up, the world will not work around what you think should be acceptable and no one is going to cut you any slack because even though you look like Pually Unstoppable you might still be a nice guy.

  35. And I wasn’t trying to attack blue collar jobs when I specifically referenced to the fact that it was a sporting goods store. It just seems like a lot of money and sacrifice for job that is very interchangeable. It’s not like he was trying to get into nasa. Go apply somewhere else.

  36. bird: sounds like you made some hasty decisions like this dude in the interview. and, you’re right. the world won’t work around you… if you want to be modified, you have to find a way to work with what the world has to offer you. for most people in the modification community that are visibly/heavily modified, that means working in a piercing/tattoo shop. but for a lot of people that are visibly/heavily modified that don’t work in shops (i know a lot of heavily modified people that hated working in this industry and left); being good enough at a skill/trade or being educated enough makes the world not care what you look like because they care more about what you have to offer.

    colin: i like the way you think.

  37. anyone who gets “extreme” mods on public skin (face, ears, neck, hands etc) has to have put a lot of thought into it first, because it WILL change your “social” status. it will make people see you differently.
    i’m wondering why he didn’t realise this when he started to stretch his lobes and set his goal on 2 inches.

    i agree with what he says, you shouldn’t have to change yourself for a job, unfortunately that isn’t the way the world works. i also agree with a comment colin made, he had to stop stretching because he couldn’t afford the jewellery but paid out $1300 to have them reconstructed to apply for jobs that he still may not have gotten.

    i dont believe he is a sell out i just dont think he thought about everything from every angle before he actually did it.

  38. I’ve been slowly stretching my ears for several years. Going slow due to working as an xray tech. At 3/4″ I get questioned daily about them. I’m working in a small town hospital now, and it has mostly been positive so I feel pretty comfortable going further with them. Sometimes I can see patients staring and about to say something possibly negative, so I beam a bigger smile and try and make them laugh (depending on the situation…), and that disarms most negativity. Funny how far a smile goes. I am lucky to have managers who see my professional abilities before my appearance. I hope that will always be the case.

    Thanks for the article.

  39. Meh, I think Charleston is one of the few places people seem to be accepting of “alternative” a modded people. I love it there. I don’t really believe what he’s preaching.

  40. I have a question, Why would you go to a doctor and pay 1,300, When you could go to someone like Decker and pay alot less. Seems silly to go to a doctor and a waste of money.

  41. You do what you gotta do sometimes. I feel for the guy. I’ve been asked if I thought having stretched lobes made me more beautiful, to which I replied no, but it does make me more satisfied with my appearance. I imagine that’s how he’s feeling, not satisfied with his appearance any more.

  42. I can somewhat identify David. I had my lobes at two inches for 3 years and I recently had them closed ($500 here in CA.). I had several reasons, but it boiled down to this: when I stretched my ears, I did so to emulate the cultures that had been stretching their ears for centuries before America was “founded”. I was reacting to the lack of “culture” in my town. My ears stood for something noble, powerful, and beautiful. Now, In my town (Orange County), stretched ear lobes have no substance.

    Yes, I could have kept my lobes stretched and informed people about my choice to live a culturally rich life. But we are slowly cultivating our own, wonderful culture of body modification right here in my town. After doing this for 15 years now, I have my own set of Ideals that are linked to my modifications. I don’t need to borrow as many of these things from others.

  43. in a community where freedom of choice is so highly valued, and the opinions of others shouldn’t really matter, i am surprised at all the bashing david is taking here.

    knowing david, i am sure he made the decision after careful consideration based on the personal needs he had at the time. to call him a sell out, or someone who gave under peer pressure seems harsh. i am sure that your modifications, as mine, came from some inspiration received by witnessing another person’s expression of art, beauty, or (for some) shock value. though we are not mainstream america, we are a subculture that is growing in numbers so great, that soon only the very extreme mods will turn heads. the rest of us will blend into the woodwork, like it or not.

    each time i make another modification to my body, being it piercings, tattooing, etc. the choice is weighed by not only my desire to create and express art with my being, but by the impact my mods will have on the socioeconomic system in which i and we all exist. i have to feed my child, bottom line, and if my art will keep food from the table, i will reverse what i have done.

    i am lucky, as i am financially secure (although i live on little) as a self -employed artist. many of my mods have been written off as performance costuming. not everyone has that luxury, and they shouldn’t be shot down because they have to make an adjustment in their appearance to make a living. i wish it was different, but that’s the world we live in. the more we, as a subculture, educate the general public, the more the acceptance of our art form will be received.

    to make this extreme step, and to publicly speak out about it is a testament to david and his character. he shared his story so that other people considering the steps that he has taken to know that it is more than just a nip and tuck. it is a life altering experience in ways that many don’t or wont dream of. just as having that first hole made in your body is.

    consider everything…

  44. He stretched his ears to two inches in less than three years, of course he regretted doing it. His ears grew but he didn’t grow with them. This is just another good reminder that stretching slowly is the right thing to do, both in terms of social/work situations, as well as in having safe stretches.

    If he hadn’t rushed the stretching, which is the trend these days, he wouldn’t have needed surgery.

  45. This will be short, but ill address what I can.

    When I got my ears pierced, I wanted what was then extreme, around 00ga. I never said I couldn’t afford the jewelry (I don’t think) I just couldn’t find it. I never actively stretched, just played a bit subconciously with them, say tugging them while on the computer.

    And I’ve been stretching for almost 10 years before doing this. My sizes have varied, so I don’t see how I went too fast. Yeah, sometimes I was able to make big jumps. in charleston, smaller ears are normal. But when you’re basically one of 3 people with over 2″ you tend to stand out.

    And I didn’t do this just to get a job. Especially at a sporting goods store. They, and 3 others called me back and I liked what they offered. I have a somewhat different life now, and I felt that 2″ was a good goal, and id reevaluate where my life was when/if I got there. Most places I am trained to work (retail, food etc) don’t alow you to look like I do either for customer relations or sanitation. Would you like to find a plug in your soup?

    So I did it for a lot of reasons. And this wasn’t ever to be a preachy piece, I wanted this out there so the young people that come to this site to get inspiration can see that there is a reality. I’ve delt with how I look, and I know that I am limited and I didn’t want that for myself. Not for my family or their future.

    I have worked for myself, and was when I decided to get this done. I was making decent money, but nothing reliable. I didn’t like not knowing if I could get real food one week or be a little hungry till the next job came in, and if it were just me, I wouldn’t have so much of an issue.

    I never regretted my choice to modify my body. Not once was I unhappy with my lobes. They brought me much joy over the years. I am going to continue to get worked on in different ways, all with thought a planning. If I didn’t think it thru, id already have transdermals and those are no fun to get/take out.

    I am happy with who I was, and I am learning to be happy as I am now. I do feel as if a part of me is missing, but it fades. I do feel socially akward now that they’re gone, but im adjusting. Life goes on.

    In the end, I wish we could all be judged solely by our resumes and the person we really are instead of what we look like. I know some of the crap Paully U. went through in Indiana and I still went ahead with my modifications. How can I go almost 10 years and not see the ramifications?

    In the end, it was my choice, and mine alone to deal with but I hoped to show the other side of it all since its rarely shown. Sorry if I offended by trying to educate, albeit not so eloquently. DK

  46. The interview:

    BME: That seems pretty straightforward. And how long ago did you have it done?

    DK: Two weeks ago, and I got hired to a good position at a sporting goods store after putting in two applications on Thursday of last week. So yeah, I’d say it worked.

    BME: So you feel comfortable attributing that quick turnaround to the surgery, then?

    DK: Oh, yeah. I asked about a job before and the manager rejected me and told me why. Then I came back after the surgery and he said he wanted me to work there now that my lobes were back to normal.

    Your follow up comment:

    “And I didn’t do this just to get a job. Especially at a sporting goods store”

    I could keep going on but this is just getting old.

  47. from granule “being good enough at a skill/trade or being educated enough makes the world not care what you look like because they care more about what you have to offer.”

    and from Mr. Matt “The thing that I think everyone is overlooking is that just because you are a blue collar worker doesn’t mean that you can’t have the modifications that you want. You just need to be skilled enough to create some demand for your abilities.”

    these comments are spot on.

  48. I can totally relate to this story. I wanted to study medicine for quite some time, and felt my lobes would be a factor in getting into a good university. It’s now a couple of years down the line from me having my lobes reversed, and I regret it all the time. I love the look of stretched lobes, and feel it did become a big part of who i was, shallow as it may seem. I have very little tissue left to stretch now, but will put my every effort into stretching them back up once i finish my nursing degree which i ended up doing instead. Don’t do reconstructive surgery unless you feel truly unhappy with something. Doing it to adhere to social norm is utter bullshit, and although you gotta sacrifice A to get B sometimes, it’s all about individual priorities. mmyeah..

  49. #40, Granule

    Actually I tossed around the idea of having my labret cut for around 2 years, it was something I knew would change alot of my opportunities in life depending on what I wanted to do. I was fully aware of the consequences so I would’nt consider any of my mods to be hasty decisions, I thought of them all as being permanent before I got them. With the way things are going though I can’t afford to have that mindset anymore and it’s apparent that other people in this community are feeling that crunch too, I’d love to keep my lobes, hell I’d love to have my labret back out to 1/2″ and be working on getting my lobes stretched out more but it seems like it is’nt the best idea for some of us.

  50. I think I’m going to get a job at Dick’s Sporting Goods. I’ll stitch up my labret and cut off my lobes.

    Oh wait, nevermind.

    I stretched what I did and tattooed what I did for myself…without asking for approval of my job. While being modified I climbed from snowboard shop grom to manager that makes all marketing decisions, runs events, etc. I can move one day to become a sales rep or district manager of a brand or higher if I wish. And make more than anyone ever will at a sporting goods store.

    Either way, whether or not if I have potential for big money or not, I am modified for myself. It’s what makes me happy.

    Best wishes to you and hopefully your decision to reverse those years of work will become what makes you happy.

  51. I wrote an article on ear lobe removal (Ear Today, Gone Tomorrow) that one day I’m sure I’ll get around to posting that featured a lot of pull-quotes from people who had their lobe stretching removed/reversed. The common thread was the reality bubble “pushing” of the “us versus the plainskins” agenda that made it seem like having stretched lobes made them a cultural revolutionary.

    Then one-upmanship took over and the next thing you know they ended up looking like the bme logo; while not intentional on their part, you do have to pull the camera back and wonder if there wasn’t an agenda there.

    The funny thing is they all said that they got more flack from pierced people for removing their stretched lobes than they did from non modified people for HAVING stretched lobes.

    In closing, I didnt even read the article this is attached to and was just musing outloud.

  52. I just have one comment to all of this. You did it for a job. You didn’t do it for yourself, or your beliefs and the fact that your nostral piercings were more acceptable then your ear lobes makes me question the company or the person who hired you. I mean, what if a year from now he’s telling you it’s part of your job to suck his dick under the table and fondle his balls and if you don’t do it, then I guess you don’t belong with that company. To me, on a personal level, your basically telling everyone that you can be walked on, told what to do and lead just like any other sheep.

    I understand you need to eat, we all do. But if people keep allowing “society” to dick-tate what we can and can’t do with our bodies, or what is “socially” acceptable then I guess we might as well go back to segregation and throw woman’s rights in the trash can.

  53. “I understand you need to eat, we all do. But if people keep allowing “society” to dick-tate what we can and can’t do with our bodies, or what is “socially” acceptable then I guess we might as well go back to segregation and throw woman’s rights in the trash can.”

    You’re out of your mind if you think stretching your lobes can be compared with the civil rights movement or womens rights, we all made the CHOICE to do these things to our bodies, we all knew that it would have some consequences with it that might make it harder on us in life, potential employers have the right to turn you down for a job based on your apperiance. I’m so tired of people acting like they are revolutionaries or in some struggle for freedom of expression just because they stretched their lobes or nostrils or whatever they may have done that society looks down on, most of you are jerks like me that just wanted to look cool so stop acting like you’re fucking Cliche Guevara

  54. another reason people should think long and hard about their choices in modifications BEFORE they do them. no skills, education, or otherwise makertable asset to an employer should be a consideration BEFORE you modify yourself.

  55. another reason people should think long and hard about their choices in modifications BEFORE they do them. no skills, education, or otherwise marketable asset to an employer should be a consideration BEFORE you modify yourself.

  56. I have serious issues with people who get facial tattoos/visible tattoos or long term modifications at my age.

    There’s plenty of time to get those, why rush now and reduce your chances of getting a job in todays society?

  57. what do u exspect no qualifacation no skill in ur hand u were looking for averge bum jobs like work in a fukin store with big ears u plum

    your 26 and work in shoe shop GREAT!

  58. Just to clarify, yes Mike we do have Rights.

    And “J” I think if you knew me, you’d rephrase your comment. I’ve been in the modification industry for 22 years now, I’m not some young moron making a blanket statement on a website. And I have fought for freedom of expression through Body Modification for just as long.

    As with most young people I’ve spoken to regarding the choice of heavy modification at a young age, your quick to jump the gun. I actually have spent the last year advocating abstinence from heavy modification until over the age of 25. I feel that at that age you know pretty well what your going to do with your life and which direction you want to go in. These young people who heavy modifications at 18,19 and 20-25 are the ones your hearing about today.

    And on a much personal level, back in 1984 I had my hands and arms tattoo’d, that was a struggle I accepted being as a female, much like the struggle of 13 years in Scary Gary Indiana to work in Roy Coopers shop, aka Roy Boy. So please understand where my comments come from and kindly respect your elders.

  59. Someone get this guy a kleenex….You went thru all this shit, spent all that money to get some crappy minimum wage job at some crappy big box store??? Your not a sell out, your a big fancy drama queen..

  60. From the “Ear Today, Gone Tomorrow” article:

    “When I was talking about closing up my lobes the reaction I was getting was similar to the reaction I got from my smoking friends when I quit smoking. Almost everyone tried to convince me it was the wrong thing to do.
    One of my friends(and I won’t name names) told me I was going to cut off my “enlightenment”. Wow, all that progress gone so quickly.”

    Again, just thinking out loud.

  61. Lol… Don’t think outloud TOO loudly Shawn.. we all know what happens.. kittens and god and such, crazy enlightenment.

  62. “I mean, what if a year from now he’s telling you it’s part of your job to suck his dick under the table and fondle his balls and if you don’t do it, then I guess you don’t belong with that company.”……AHAHAHA…SPOT ON CID!!!!

  63. I had my ears fixed in early december and i miss them every time i see a nice pair of plugs or other people with larger stretched ears.. i wouldnt re-stretch my lobes, but if i could go back to having my “old ears” without the thin spot i had due to a cut from jewelry i totally would :/

  64. so this guy has been into body modification for so long and he goes to a plastic surgeon instead of supporting one of us like b. decker? this article was pointless and stupid. have fun at the sports store job, how many years do you have to work to pay off your plastic surgeons bill with your shitty ass job.

  65. I’m on my way to 2 inches now; I’ve been stretching my ears since about 1997, and decided to go beyond 0g in 2002 and have been beyond an inch since 2004 and I’m at about 1 5/8 inches now. I’m going slowly, needless to say, and my lobes are exceptionally healthy. And yes, they do get attention, but frankly, for me, it has been mostly positive.
    I have an advanced degree in engineering, and have had a very successful career and I’m now well over 30. I always feel that for those who blame their ears or other moderate mods for failure in their lives that they are just trying to externalize the blame. If there is something in your life that you really want, you go after it. If that includes stretched ears, so be it. Reversing them because of social pressure, as this guy did, is lame and pathetic. If it truly were a personal choice he wanted to make (which the article makes it clear it WASN’T), then I could respect him for the choice.
    I also don’t understand why he claims the stretched ears were such as issue. I get more attention from my 100+ hours of tattoos than the ears!

  66. You shouldn’t make life decisions for someone else. Shoe store? Seriously?
    I personally am not heavily modified, but i can tell you this. You get one life, why the hell would you give up something you love to make the manager at a shoe store happy?
    I have longer bangs to keep my eyebrow ring out of site, but my nose piercing is fine at the law office i work at. Keep the tattoos out of obvious places and you keep the boss happy. This is a temporary job, this isn’t going to be my life. I’m going to school for Graphic Design. I’m going to specialize, I’m going to be amazing at my job, and i will be Irreplaceable so that i can do whatever i want.
    The money for the surgery could have been put towards education, something that would really help you in future. Do you see this as a milestone? School could have been
    I did start stretching my ears at one point a few years back but changed my mind about the way they looked on me before i passed the point of no return.
    I can understand not wanting them stretched anymore… but it was a personal choice… not one made solely for someone else. Maybe there were other reasons why your friends didn’t approve of this decision besides the obvous.

  67. I used to have 2″ lobes; after years and years of hassle from other people, i decided to call it a day and shrink them down to something more ‘acceptable’ to other people. (around 30mm).
    after months and months and MONTHS of hearing ‘oh you look so much better now’, ‘i MUCH prefer how that looks on you’, i began to miss them. i realised that i had only done it to keep other people happy. I personally enjoyed having 2″ lobes; so i started stretching up again and am now at 40mm. i do have shoulder length hair so that helps in being able to keep them hidden if needs be, although so far in my part time job at Ikea (im also a student) i have not had to hide them, nor my tattoos, and im happy to say that the comments i get from my customers and colleagues are always positive ones; im sure there might come a time when the comments are less positive, but i wouldn’t be working for a company who react negatively to my appearance.

    that said of course there have been times in my life where my facial piercings have held me back and prevented companies from seeing beyond the metal, and where money is tight i have conformed and taken them out. is this selling out or is it supporting myself?
    its not for us to say whether Mr Kitts has ‘sold out’ in altering his lobes for his lifestyle, as we do not live it. maybe one day when he is settled in a job where his employer appreciates him for who he is and not how he looks, he will be able to stretch back up if he wants to, in a an environment where his choice is supported.

  68. From someone with just a tiny nose piercing so nothing modified to speak of this has made fascinating reading!

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