Remember a simpler time when a nose or eyebrow ring seemed to be the epitome of avant-garde body piercing? Well, those days are long gone since more and more brave souls are opting for unusual piercings, ranging from the nape of the neck to the corset on the back. While some people believe it to be sadomasochistic and deranged, others see these unusual piercings to be a form of artistic expression.
For sophomore communications major Danyel Fogarty, the more unique the piercing, the better.
“I like rare piercings,” Fogarty said. “I don’t like to have what most people get done.”
“I have piercings and I love them,” Fogarty added. “Besides my ears, I have three right now.”
Fogarty first explored body piercing at age 12 when she pierced her eyebrow. From then on, she shifted from common types of piercings to the more exotic trends by attending piercing and tattoo festivals.
One of the rarest types of piercings today is the nape, where a barbell piece is inserted through the surface of the back part of the neck.
“I saw (the nape piercing) once when I was 15 and I fell in love,” Fogarty said.
Fogarty’s dream came true last July when, at a piercing festival, she got her nape pierced after her mother finally relented.
“My mom never wanted me to do it, but then she finally gave in,” Fogarty said. “I guess I made faces like it hurt, but it wasn’t horrible at all. It was just a little pinch and then it was done.”
Another unusual piercing trend is the conch, which is placed in the shell of the inner ear above the lobe. The piercing’s name derived from the likeness of the outer ear to a conch shell.
Fogarty said her conch piercing was the most painful by far.
“It hurt for up to three months after I got it done,” Fogarty said. “It sometimes still hurts now.”
One of the most extreme piercings is the corset, a series of surface piercings done to emulate the look of lacing on the back of corset.
A corset piercing can consist of as few as two rows of two piercings or two rows of multiple piercings covering the vertical length of the back. Corset piercings can be worn alone or worn laced with a ribbon or chain.
“I want to get a corset done next,” Fogarty said.
However, due to the difficulty and risk, most corset piercings are intended to be temporary.
No matter where the piercing is placed, it is an invasive procedure and has some setbacks and risks.
Citrus College freshman Molly Allen is no stranger to piercing. Although Allen had multiple piercings in the past, she grew tired of them and found the everyday upkeep to be a hassle.
“I currently just have my ears pierced,” Allen said. “But in the past I have had my ears stretched, my tongue pierced and stretched, and my nipples pierced.”
“I kind of regret getting my nipples pierced because I was young and dumb, and it ended up getting me into more trouble than anything else,” Allen added. “Once when I had (piercings), I wanted to give blood and I wasn’t allowed to.”
Blood banks often reject people who have gotten a tattoo or a piercing within a year to avoid contaminated blood. Although tattooing and piercing is usually safe, it is possible to contract blood-related diseases, such as Hepatitis and HIV, which cannot be screened or detected until one year later.
Other common risks are allergic reactions to the products used to clean a new piercing, such as hydrogen peroxide, and the type of metal used, particularly nickel. Bacterial and viral infections are also major risk factors. However, if a professional piercer performs the piercing, these risks are usually minimized.
Fogarty said she has been lucky not to endure many of the risks or setbacks; however, she was not immune to a couple piercing mishaps in the past.
“I used to box when I had my eyebrow pierced,” Fogarty said. “One time I got hit, and it got pretty infected.”
“Sometimes the body rejects piercings too,” Fogarty added. “My eyebrow piercing kept receding in and, one day when I woke up, (the piercing) was gone.”
Body rejection and migration are common with surface piercings, such as the navel or eyebrow.
Rejection occurs when the body recognizes a foreign object, such as body jewelry, to be a health risk. The body forces the piercing out by healing the skin behind it and eventually, the object will be pushed through the skin. Migration is the process in which the piercing becomes closer to the skin’s surface.
Body piercing has existed since ancient times. One of the oldest mummified bodies discovered in the Austrian glacier had an ear piercing 7 to 11 mm in diameter.
Nose and ear piercing are mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 24:22), and have been common practices in India since the16th Century.
It has even been suggested that the Romans invented nipple piercing, where soldiers would attach their cloaks to their piercings in battle.
However, even today, body piercings continue to stir up controversy.
“It’s not so much that I liked having piercings,” Allen said, “but it’s a cool way to be unique and have something different than everyone else. And obviously, the more extreme the piercing, the more you stand out.”
Tracy Spicer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.