As a Left Coast gal, I’m usually pretty liberal when it comes to people’s fashion choices, and that includes tattooing and body piercing. I think if someone is adult, she can generally adorn herself with the body art of her choice. I’ve seen some hip, stylish 20somethings who have the confidence and fashion sense to pull off a cascade of ear piercings and even a nose piercing or two, plus tattoos.
So, given my laissez-faire attitude about body art, I surprised myself when I stopped in at a downtown Walnut Creek coffee house after my morning workout and looked up at the young woman with whom I had just placed my order. She was a plainly dressed but reasonably attractive woman with short dark hair. She was polite, pleasant, and attentive to taking my order. But I admit I was a bit stunned when I looked up from pulling bills from my wallet and noticed two silver balls embedded in each of her cheeks, on either side of her face, where her dimples might be.
I don’t know why I was stunned–and repulsed. As I’ve said, I’ve seen people with studs and hoops hanging out of their ears, lips, noses, and navels. I’ve even seen nipple piercings–on men, no less.
One reason I was taken aback is that I had never seen anyone with cheek piercings. So, there’s the newness factor. There was also me instanstaneously imagining what it must feel like to have an earring stud piercing through your cheek. Could she feel the back of the earring inside the wall of her mouth? Could she flick her tongue over it?
But the other thought that popped into my head is not so easy to admit, because I’ll come off sounding mean and insensitive.
Well, here goes. About 45 minutes earlier, I had been on the treadmill at my gym watching the morning news, which featured the press conference of face transplant recipient Connie Culp.
Absolutely, Culp is a profile in courage and resilience. She suffered the nightmare of having her husband shoot her in the head in 2004, nearly killing her, and blasting off much of her face. She survived the shooting, only to suffer the nightmare of going out in public with her crushed mid-face, and having kids point and stare at her in terror.
The miracle of modern medical science gave her a chance for a better life through a face transplant this past December, a new advance in transplant surgery. Culp chose to show herself to the world this week, she said, to foster acceptance of those who have suffered burns and other disfiguring injuries.
Her doctors said her transplant is not yet complete. The Associated Press said
“her expressions are still a bit wooden. … Her speech is at times a little tough to understand. Her face is bloated and squarish. Her skin droops in big folds …”
It’s those bid drooping folds of skin on either side of her face that, I confess, I find a little strange. Doctors plan to pare them away as her circulation improves and her nerves grow, the Associated Press said.
Looking at this coffee house barista, with the skin puckering up, even very slightly, around those silver studs embedded in her cheeks made me think of, yes, those folds of skin hanging off Connie Culp’s face–folds that doctors hope to one day remove.
But I think that even if I had not caught Culp’s press conference on the news this morning, I would still have been taken aback by the barista’s cheek piercings. It grossed me out, frankly. Looking at the above photo I found on Wikepedia of the guy with his cheek piercing is also rather unappetizing.
I don’t know why this kind of facial piercing repels me, more than others, like eyebrow or even nose piercing, although the idea of tongue piercing makes me squeamish.
Any thoughts of your own on tattoos and body piercing, and which you think is okay and which you think crosses a line?