I was 16 years old when I got my first piercing.
I’ve been abhorring needles throughout my life, ‘till a certain point of time’. I remember how vehemently my arm rose and hit the woman hard right across her face when she pricked the first needle into my ear. Although the action was pretty unintended and the whole sensory reflexive organ thing is to be blamed for it, I couldn’t really make peace with the event since then. Mother was pretty upset because I had left the parlor with just one ear pierced! Thankfully, the fear did not sustain for long. Just after finishing high school, I was convinced that the right time to make amends is now. Mother was surprised. She couldn’t quite reconcile herself to my feeble strength of getting BOTH my ears pierced. At one go. Well! That was a feat.
I had climbed a notch on the scale of femininity successfully. At least people said so. But, just about two years later, people raised their eyebrows when I got an eye–brow piercing. Opinions were many but reasons unreasonable. At first, I felt upset about it. But later I shunned it off. Every time I started to make allowances for such ridiculous judgments, I realized I must first validate the foundation of these questions! Why is it NOT OKAY to flaunt an eye-brow piercing? If it makes me stand out in a crowd, what is so not okay with it? If it gives me an identity, what is the problem? I mean a piercing – just a piercing in a ‘not-so-eye-pleasing’ part of my skin should not substantively change your idea about me. Sadly, in most cases it did. Some people associated my ‘image’ as an obnoxious and unfeminine woman. Oh! What a curse. A curse indeed – that pulled off my barbell from within my forehead. It bled profusely. (That’s my drunken affair with a towel) Anyway, the scar still persists. Hah!
Feminine has to look a certain kind. You’re feminine if you have long hair, a refined taste in the choice of your clothing, a woman-like body and behavior, and look beautiful of course. Outdated expectations. Okay. Here comes the next challenge. Two more years down the line, I got my nose pierced. In addition to the aforesaid criteria, that I more or less do justice to, I added another element of mass speculation. Lately, I come across enumerable memes being shared on social media, calling out names to all those women who sport a nose ring. Is it even legit? You call us ‘sexually intimidating’. I mean, how does just another ornament worn on a body part cause sexual intimidation? You want us to look beautiful, but you are constantly challenging our aesthetic sensibility. A woman should look ‘feminine’ but her femininity must not cross a limit. She cannot look like a woman who tries to attract sexual attention, but she must look attractive enough to garner heterosexual attention when socially permitted. So funny!
What people fail to understand is that femininity is not my defining quality. My femininity is my personal mode of expression. If I like dressing up well, I would not demean a woman who doesn’t do the same. We are not required to look or act a certain way to be worthy of your appreciation. The belief that states a woman’s choice of clothing or lifestyle directly equates with her personal attributes is outright absurd. It strips a woman of her pride, individuality, and experience. When you do it, you offend her and her self-esteem, both. When I chose to get my piercings done, I was the sole person taking claim over my body, regardless of whether they are permanent, temporary, of primary concern or not. It is completely my call. I guess that sense of ownership is what people have a problem with. Public perception is filthy. It tries to inject an entirely foreign idea into a woman’s line of thought. It compels her to accept that whatever she does or must do has to have an impact on the other gender. Whatever it is, it has to do something or the other with men. Societal expectations are heavily laden with confused wants. These are just words simply uttered, not justified. So fuck all that shit!
My style is a manifestation of how I am feeling on a particular day. It suggests my mood. Some days it’s bright. Some days, blue. It’s volatile. It is ought to vary. But when I get a permanent body modification, I am sure about it. I did it because I wanted to do it. I wanted to mark a transition in my life or whatever reason be it. My tattoos signify my queer identity. My nose ring signifies my likeness for the offbeat. They are as important as any other organ of mine. So, when you equate a negative remark with any of my personal choices, you offend me of course.
The meme game that labels women as ‘sluts’ and ‘hoes’ just because they wear a ripped denim with a tee and a nose ring is offensive of course.
I think, as a millennial generation (where women also slut-shame women for unjust reasons), we need to rethink on our own morals. If the whole concept of body piercing is to be demeaned, even an ear-piercing should raise similar speculations. An ear is also a prominent body part. How is an ear-piercing not considered unaesthetic in that case? (Oh. Multiple ear piercings are also not okay btw!) It is beyond my comprehension. Personally, I love the whole idea of it and I look forward to ornamenting my body with fluid expressions. As and when I want to experiment with my style or my body I would do it anyway. I would flaunt it with pride anyway. Your gossip or small talk in chai-addas about my personality proves your incapability to put up better conversations with peers.
I am a bit of a freak. I celebrate myself as often as you waste your valuable time opinionating about me. So, a lot of inking and poking holes is definitely on the cards in the near future. I’m certain.
(On behalf of all the women who think likewise)