Tattoos and piercings – are we right in condemning body modification?

According to healthline, a tattoo is a form of body art that is created when ink is inserted, using a needle, into the dermis layer of the skin. This changes the skin’s pigment and can be used to create almost any image imaginable.

Pemanent makeup is also a form of tattooing. This is when permanent ink is used to mimic the look of eyeliner, lipliner, eyebrow pencil, or other kinds of makeup.

Piercing is another popular form of body art. This is a type of body modification where a needle punctures a hole in the body. Jewelry is then inserted into this hole. Ears, noses, eyebrows, tongues, lips, navels, nipples, genitals, and other body parts can be pierced.

A little background:

The purpose of tattooing varied from culture to culture. The Greeks for example used it for communication among spies. Romans use them to mark criminals and slaves. Tahitian tattoos served as rites of passage, telling the history of the wearer’s life. Tattoos served as symbols of religious and spiritual devotion, decorations for bravery, sexual lures and marks of fertility, pledges of love, amulets and talismans, protection, and so on.

According to some stats I found online, about 60% of people born after 1980 in the US have tattoos and/or piercings. Strange , isn’t it? Here in Africa, we’re trying to become civilized, hence giving children tribal tattoos as we used to is fast becoming a crime. While the civilizations we emulate are returning to what we’re leaving behind.

But I derail.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking of getting a tattoo, or are trying to talk someone out of getting one, or just plain curious. Might as well know the health risks involved.

Health risks.

Allergic reaction to tattoo dyes, skin infections such as staphylococcus or tuberculosis, development of inflamed tissue(granuloma) around the tattoo site, formation of keloids, blood borne diseases such as hepatitis B and C, HIV, burning or swelling at the tattoo site and interference with future MRI(Magnetic resonance Imaging) tests. Health risks of piercings include complications that may arise if the person has other medical conditions such as diabetes, allergies, skin disorders like eczema or psoriasis, or a weak immune system.

Okay, enough with the medical stuff. My initial response to seeing any tatted/pierced person was a mix of bewilderment and disgust. Like, why would someone hate the clarity of his skin so much that he would decide to draw a permanent image on it? Or love looking weird so much that he goes and lets someone punch holes in his body for jewelry?! It wasn’t until I saw a cancer survivor draw a tattoo over her chest where her breasts had had to be cut off, that I realised it might not be eccentricity that pushes everyone to go down this route.

Still…

Before you get that tattoo or piercing, think on it. Would you still want that tattoo on your body in the next 10, 15 years? Will that piercing make you progress in your chosen sphere of life without constantly having to fight to be taken seriously? If you’re in a professional field, are you ready to always have to find out first if they have a no-tattoos-or-piercings policy before applying to a new place of work? What exactly is the additional appeal you think you might have by piercing your nose or lip or eyebrow or having your arms or neck tattooed?

You might want to read this.

What I think.

If, after weighing the pros and the cons, you realize that that tattoo or piercing won’t help you progress at due speed in life, drop it like it’s hot. The truth is that most normal people wouldn’t want to be alone with a tatted or pierced person late at night. In all honesty, it’s not something that inspires trust. It would take an extremely liberal interview team to ignore a candidate’s tattoos/piercings and pick him/her above other applicants even if he or she were as qualified. Except of course, if you’re in a Muslim community where it’s not unusual for women to have nose piercings. Semi permanent henna tattoos are also quite common in such places, especially for special occasions. Young America may think otherwise, but tattoos and piercings do make you look irresponsible. People’s perception of those with such “body art” is “he probably does drugs as well” or “he surely moves with a crowd you don’t want to be around” or “she’s probably a slut”. It’s unlikely that someone’s first thought on seeing it is “he must have been in a bad place when he drew that one ” or “that lovely nose ring must be her best form of personal expression”. As with those with tattoos, according to a study I read, there was a strong association of piercing relative to alcohol and recreational drug use, jail time and lack of religious affiliation.

The fact is that most young people would pay a lot of money to get these things done, but still clamor for cheaper education and social amenities. Eventually in the future when they feel like they could do without it, they manage to save for painful and expensive removal processes which might not yield aesthetically pleasing results and may lead to yet more scarring. Something tells me that if these people were born with the tattoos, they would eagerly find find a way to remove them. The craze is simply a case of dissatisfaction plus enough spending money. Actually, scratch that. Even broke people will still find a way to do something to themselves.

I was once a kid, and I would have got lost a hundred times over before venturing to ask for help from someone with tattoos or piercings. They’re mostly scary to kids, and like I said, they do not inspire trust.

That said, not all tatted and pierced people are bad people. As a matter of fact many of them are quite great. The choice to draw on your body or punch holes in it is entirely up to you, but you have to prepare for people’s reactions to how you look, and try not to blame them. It’s not the norm after all, and never will be. People don’t take lightly to ideas or concepts that are different from what they believe in, or what is socially acceptable.

Now there are tattoos, and there are tattoos. A butterfly tattoo on the wrist may not be viewed with the same distaste as a long bible quote on the buttock area. An offensive image, no matter how small, will definitely put you on the “to avoid” list of a normal person. Earrings are generally accepted, but of course overdoing it by piercing a gazillion holes in your ear won’t likely win you normal people as close pals. I mean, I have two earring piercings in my right ear, and I have lost count of the number of times I’ve had to explain how the maternity nurse got the first one wrong and had to give me another piercing, less than 48 hours after after my birth.

Why should ear piercing be seen as normal while piercing of other body parts is deemed abnormal? I think that since the wearing of earrings is a universally accepted way of life(for women), the piercing of the ear at birth has become one too, except for those whose religion forbids it.

Would I date or marry someone with tattoos and/or piercings? I’m 99% positive I wouldn’t.

Would I get a tattoo or piercing? No. Not even if I was offered money to get one.

Would I let my kid get one? Somebody better be kidding. Not as long as you’re under my care, you won’t.

Would I befriend one? Definitely. As long as there are no chances of my future kid suddenly wanting to punch holes in his/her body or getting stuff drawn all over.

In nutshell, it’s not up to anyone to judge others because of choices they have made Tattooed, pierced, scarified, one God made us all. The real issue is doing what you’ll regret later on in life. It might feel good to be seen as a cool dude right now, but if 10 years later you have a slight chance of regretting it, it would be wise to let that sleeping dog lie if you want to go far in life.

We all do things we desperately wish we could undo. Those regrets just become part of who we are, along with everything else. To spend time trying to change that, well, it’s like chasing cloud – Libba Bray

Sincerely, Chibugo.

PS. Let me hear your opinions in the comments!

Temporary romantic partners: to have or not to have?

While the term dating has many meanings, the most common refers to a trial period in which two people explore whether to take the relationship further towards a more permanent relationship

I got that from Wikipedia.

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Now, the term “dating” is one of those terms that people seem to have different meanings for. I sensed this when I was told by a colleague, “Hey, you only live once.! This is your time to have fun! You’re so choosy at this dating thing. Seriously.”

Well, I’m sorry, but if dating means making out with every Tom, Dick and Harry I go to the movies with, then no thanks. *insert appropriate grimace*. I’m particular about those I let into my personal space.

Temporary romantic partners are people we date with no intention of settling down with them. Yep, situations like this exist. They’re even more commonplace than you could imagine.

I was shocked when I had a discussion with a friend and she mentioned the man she was dating. In my typical blunt way, I ask, “Do you see yourself spending your life with him?”

“No”. She says.

I am more shocked, if that’s even possible. “Why are you then dating him for Pete’s sake?” I’m perplexed. She’s pretty, not the kind that lacks male attention.

She gives me that “Don’t probe too much” look. I will not mention what she eventually tells me is her reason for being with him, but it does nothing to ease my perplexity.

It doesn’t help that most people who date in our Universities have no intention of ending up with the person they date. It has a name even. It’s called “school boyfriend or girlfriend”. It’s not supposed to be serious.  It seldom leads to marriage; as a matter of fact, of the many school boyfriend/girlfriend situationships I’ve seen, only one has ever led to the altar. Mind you, most of these relationships while they exist, bear every mark of “legally married”, while being everything but. Back in university, we actually had a “couple of the year” award. And no, the nominees and eventual winning couple weren’t married but they played their roles beautifully, playing husband and wife like their calling. That’s how normal it’s become.

Dating should be fun, shouldn’t it?

Of course. But that’s not all there is to it. Unless the world became full of selfish, pleasure seeking millenials while I was asleep. How do you explain dating a girl for years and knowing fully that you do not intend to marry her when you’re ready to settle down but want to have all the “fun” now in bed and out of it?

It’s different for the “modern” folks who believe that sex is like a meal you should eat whenever you feel like and move on. If both parties are aware that they’re being used by the other as a “fuck buddy” and they’re fine with it, then hey, whatever rocks their boat. Check out popular scenarios:

1. Girl and boy meet in uni, and decide to date exclusively. They become intimate by plan or by chance. One of them likes the fun and the ride, but knows he/she would never settle for current partner. Years down the line, one of them walks. Dumpee is shocked and wondering why. Dumper doesn’t give time for the dust to settle. Dumper’s next post on Facebook is a wedding picture.

2. Guy meets a pretty young girl and decides he wants her for his wife. She doesn’t love him but because he seems to hold the key to her family’s financial emancipation, she tells him that she has to finish school before they can take their relationship to the next level. He agrees and trains her through 4, 5, maybe 6 years of University. She has a plan all this time. As soon as she completes her program, she tells him she has no interest anymore(old news!) and takes a walk. *insert nollywood dramatic soundtrack*

3. Girl meets famous guy and falls hard. He has other girls but hey, he’s famous so she should be happy she even gets to be called the “main chick” and hang on bis arm at events. Eventually one of the “side chicks” bears him a kid and he has to let main chick go so as to do right by his child. Of course she goes. She must have known that with his roving eyes, their relationship was even less than temporary.

It all boils down to using people and loving things. We love what we can get from people: fame, financial security, perhaps even love(in some weird situations) , but we cruelly use the people themselves to get these things.

Ours is a generation of selfish and myopic cowards, pardon my French. Wanting everything but too lazy to get it the right way, and blaming everyone but ourselves when things go wrong.

Having fun with friends is a great way of building a solid support system, and by all means, experience all there is to experience. As long as it doesn’t end up with you having the body count of a public toilet, or a litany of broken relationships to spice up stories for your future grandkids. You don’t have to be your own Guinea pig. Learning from other people’s mistakes is usually the best way to gather experience without actually living the experiences.

The problem? We don’t stand for anything anymore, and so we fall for anything. If we weren’t such shallow minded pleasure seekers, we would “guard our hearts with all diligence”. Whatever then manages to get in, would be real.

The time to walk is before someone’s heart gets too emotionally invested

Be open and communicative! That way you know just where you’re headed in the relationship and you know when to stop the charade(if there is one)

Stop being a doormat and hoping your partner will change if you do this or that better. He/she probably won’t. Save yourself the hurt down the line and take a walk before you become too invested.

If you’re looking to “forever” and your significant other is looking to “live the moment”, you might just need to develop those leg muscles. Take a long walk.

I’m hardly qualified to speak on relationship matters, but these are truths that people are ignorant of in the search for love or anything that resembles it. The loveless world we live in makes people cling to unhealthy relationships that do far more harm than good.

Don’t cling to shit. It will only make you smelly. Don’t be shit either. You’ll only be flushed down.

Oh-so-sincerely, Chibugo.

 

The keke ride that woke me up

Right after the commercial motorcyclists “okada”, tricycles are next on my “avoid if  possible”  list. We all know how close to impossible this is, though, with the madness called Lagos. They are a necessity if  you don’t have a car. I jumped into one of those within the week as soon as I heard “fine girl, you dey go Express”? My bus rides are usually time for me to enter into myself. I’m usually deep in thought or as close to pressing my nose to the window to see the things speeding past me as possible. Some childhood habits just never die. Of course you can’t press your nose to the Windows of a “keke”  because there are simply no Windows!

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” I love you!” This was the first thing that hit me when my bum had hardly settled in my seat. Goofing around, are we? Two can play that game. I played dumb.

He said it again, louder this time. I caught his eye in the rearview mirror. Without missing a beat I replied “I love you too” and looked away, hoping he got the message. He grinned instead.

Gawd no! This one seemed to be one of those long winded, ever cheerful people and I was not in a talkative mood. That didn’t deter him. “Will you marry me?” he asked. Without wasting a second I said, “of course”. I had hoped to catch him unawares by not trying to act coy. It worked. He was a bit startled at my reply. Then he laughed gaily and launched into the story of his broken heart. Even as passengers piled in, he continued  his story, occasionally glancing at me in the mirror to be sure I was still listening.

“Are you an Edo girl?”

“No”

“Where are you from?”

“I’m Igbo”

“Oh, you Igbo girls. The girl I wanted to marry was Igbo you know”

“Hmmm”, I say. I’m thinking “TMI?” But my simple response seems like more than enough fuel to drive him on. I needn’t say more. He just keeps on.

“Her people said I couldn’t marry her. Her mother actually told me she liked me and that was why she was advising me not to waste my time and money on her daughter”

Silence.

” I really loved that girl. Her name was Florence. ” At this point he smiles in memory of this Florence girl. I find myself cracking a small smile. I can’t help it. He’s a smiler .

“Her mother explained that she has just two daughters and wanted them to marry close to home”

Silence.

“She told me she would get pregnant for me so that her parents would have no choice but to give her to me in marriage. It was painful but I had to let her go. I’m not that kind of man.”

All this time, the other passengers are listening, but don’t get the full gist. I tell him I’ve reached my stop. Handing him the currency note, I tell him, “You will find your real woman someday, don’t worry.”

The fact that this taciturn passenger finally managed a full sentence seems to have made his day. He flashes  me a winning smile.

“Thank you sweetheart”

Ooookay, too much familiarity already. A simple thank you would have sufficed but anyway, I’m off the vehicle. As I cross the road, I think to myself, “This would be good for the blog”. Unlike the one million other times I’ve said this in the last four months, I actually go through with it.

Sometimes people just want someone to listen to them. They don’t expect you to  solve their problem, but just to listen. You never know when or where you’ll be expected to play the shrink to someone. Whenever that is, remember :if you must be anything, be kind.

Yay. We’re back.