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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Students express their creativity with body modifications

Kelsey Truglio sports her cartilage and earlobe piercings. (Taylor Bouraad)

Body art is a popular option for college students who are fresh out of the bounds of legal and parental restrictions. As a way of self-expression, students assert their autonomy over their bodies by getting piercings or tattoos.

Aside from the common forms of ear lobe piercings, additional forms of self-expression range from the industrial bar, which is a stick with a ball on each end that extends across the ear and goes through the cartilage in two places, to other places on the nose, tongue, belly button and anywhere as daring or creative as one wishes.

As for tattoos, they require a bit of demystification. Like a sewing machine, the tattoo needles repeatedly prick just below the skin at a rate of 50-3000 stabs a minute per minute, and the ink bottle eventually creates a monochromatic or colored pattern. As technology advances, three dimensional gradients as are even possible. While getting a tattoo might not be as painful as most anticipate, one thing that does hurt is the price tag; an inch wide design can range from $50-$100 dollars based on the intricacy and style.

Body art can be a sensitive topic for people, and it is not a decision to be made lightly, as it is hard to undo. People get tattoos for various reasons. Two students opened up about their experiences with body modifications.

Natalie Phagu, sophomore biology major:

The Statesman: What made you decide to get your tattoo or piercings? What’s it like and why? Where did you get it done?

Natalie Phagu: I decided to get my nose pierced because it is culturally acceptable for young girls to do this as a coming-of-age process. My nose ring is in the shape of a flower, and is made of diamonds. It was a gift from my parents for my dance debut, a very special ceremony in an Indian classical dancer’s life. I got the piercing done in my neighborhood.

TS: Do you wonder if you’ll ever change your feel about your piercings/tattoos?

NP: I do wonder sometimes if I will want to remove my nose ring when I get older; however, I feel that since it is a cultural aspect of my identity and I’ve had it for years and identify myself with it, I doubt that I will ever remove it.

TS: What are people’s general opinion about body art, and reaction to yours?

NP: I feel that people generally have a negative attitude towards people with tattoos and piercings. People always ask whether I got my nose ring for fashion or for cultural reasons and I have to explain why.

TS: What do you do if you go into an interview? Hide it or show it?

NP: I don’t remove my nose ring for any interviews because it is who I am. I even wore it for Harvard and Columbia interviews; I feel that my cultural identity should not affect whether I get accepted or not.

Kerri-Anne Bross, sophomore biology major:

TS: What made you decide to get your tattoo or piercings? What’s it like and why? Where did you get it done?

Kerri-Anne Bross:  I have multiple tattoos and piercings and I got each of them done for different reasons. It really ranges from getting them as a reminder that I’m never alone, to getting it done just because I thought it looked pretty. I got them done at Studio 69 at Ronkonkoma, Tattoo Lou’s of St. James, and Clockwork Tattoo at Centereach.

TS: Do you wonder if you’ll ever change your feel about your piercings/tattoos?

KB: I honestly don’t think I will ever change my opinions on my piercings and tattoos. They’re a part of me.

TS: What are people’s general opinion about body art, and reaction to yours?

KB: There’s a couple of different reactions that people have to body art. Some people feel like it’s disgusting, other’s see it as intriguing. Personally, not many people see my tattoos or piercings. When they do it’s usually a positive response, although sometimes I will get someone who reacts negatively to them and tells me that I’m ruining my body. I choose to ignore them.

TS: What do you do if you go into an interview? Hide it or show it?

KB: All of my tattoos and piercings, aside from my nose piercing, are hidden. So I don’t have to worry about them during interviews. I think that if I did have any of them showing, I would decide whether or not to show them based on the job I was applying for.

Despite the often negative connotations associated with body art, tattoos and piercings have come a long way in human history. They draw inspiration from both tribal and religious symbols and it is important to not judge based on appearance.

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