A few different versions of this failed 71-piece microdermal/surface anchor/single-point surface piercing project have started making the rounds and we wanted to share our thoughts and hopefully provide some additional insight and context to the situation. The “after” picture certainly says a lot about what’s going on here, but we think it’s critical that piercers and the general public understand exactly what went wrong, why it went wrong and why this never should have been done in the first place.
There have been a lot of understandably-angry responses to this. As piercers who care about our clients, the quality of work we do and the overall “reputation’ of body piercing, this hurts and angers us a great deal. But, we hope we can turn this into an educational opportunity for everyone who comes across this glaring example of a piercer who appears to lack morals, ethics and professionalism.
This project was done as part of “reality” television program by a “celebrity piercer”. This “piercer” has repeatedly shown a blatant disregard for his clients’ well-being, and therefore we believe he deserves all of the bad press he is currently getting. However, his name isn’t important to our message. If you want to know who did this atrocity, it won’t be hard to figure out.
This “piercer” has repeatedly defended his choice to do large-scale projects like this and claims that these types of projects are very viable and are usually successful.
He is wrong.
We know he is wrong. Every experienced, reputable piercer knows he is wrong. Heck, even a piercer with only the smallest bit of experience with these type of piercings would know he is wrong. Chances are he knows he is wrong as well.
He has chosen to ignore his ethics and his professional responsibility, as well as completely disregard the health, safety and well-being of his clients in exchange for money, exposure, “fame” and whatever else he may garner from stunts like this. We understand that every one has to make a living, and we all have different goals and dreams. We just don’t think you should make your living or achieve your goals and dreams by harming uninformed, unsuspecting people.
So, what is actually wrong with this project?
The most obvious thing is that all 71 of these piercings were done in one sitting. That’s 71 piercings your body has to try and heal all at once. We all know that if your body is trying to heal 71 injuries of any kind, it is going to struggle. Now, ask your body to heal 71 injuries with pieces of jewelry in them; jewelry that will get bumped, caught, snagged and rubbed on during even the most basic day-to-day activities…the problem should be obvious.
Any piercer who tells you that doing large numbers of piercings in one sitting is fine and will have good results is either lying to you or they don’t know what they are talking about. Either way, find a different piercer.
While the number of piercings is the most obvious problem, the most fundamental problem with this project is that most of the time, surface anchor piercings simply aren’t viable on a long-term basis. People have lots of different experiences with this type of piercing, but to say that most of them last 5 or more years is not the experience that we, or most reputable piercers, have had. This is true regardless of the design of the anchor, the method used to perform the piercing or the type of end/top that is used on the anchor.
It is also true regardless of how many anchors are done at one time. While only doing one has a better chance than doing a handful in one sitting, it is still no guarantee of long-term viability. We, and other professional piercers who’s opinions, skills and experience we trust, refer to anchors as long-term-temporary piercings.
When these types of piercings fail, usually what happens is that the body “rejects” the jewelry. This means that it starts to push the jewelry out of the skin. In most cases, once this starts, the body will continue to reject the jewelry until it comes out completely. Most people have the jewelry removed before it comes out completely.
No responsible piercer would ever perform a project like this because they would know there is 0% chance that all of the piercings (heck, probably even 50% of them) would last on any type of long-term basis. While scarring from individual surface anchors tends to be pretty minimal in most cases, a responsible piercer would know that rejection of so many of these piercings would result in a large area of prominent scarring. The after picture shows this pretty clearly.
In addition, the rejection/removal of even a handful of these piercings would leave the original design “unreadable”. Instead of looking like shooting stars, or hearts or whatever the original design was, it ends up looking like a random scattering of jewelry.
Another major issue with this project is the location: the thigh area.
We already mentioned how irritation/abuse would occur from even the most basic activities as well as from any clothing that would rub against the area.
When doing any kind of surface piercing (with an anchor or with a surface bar), it is critical that the area where the jewelry will sit is as flat as possible. If the jewelry rests on a curved surface, excess pressure can be applied to different parts of the jewelry, directly contributing to irritation and rejection. A thigh/upper leg is mostly-curved surface with virtually no areas that stay flat at all times. While some areas may be flat in certain positions, even small changes to the orientation of the leg, cause those flat areas to become curved.
As with any jewelry, the material and the quality of the workmanship are critical components to initial healing as well as long-term success. In this case, there is no way to know whether this jewelry is made from implant-grade materials with top-of-the-line workmanship or whether low-quality “mystery metal” was used.
However, let’s consider this: If this project was done with high-quality, implant-grade jewelry, the jewelry alone would have cost the client several thousands of dollars; even if there were a considerable “bulk discount”. So, either the client didn’t pay that much because the jewelry was subpar, unacceptable junk or the piercer took a huge amount of money from the client knowing full well that the project was destined to fail and that the client was wasting their money.
Either way, it’s unethical, unprofessional and unacceptable.
One other thing we wanted to comment on:
We’ve seen quite a few comments that have fully or partially blamed the client for letting someone do this to them or for not knowing this was a bad idea And, while we are big believers in personal responsibility, and we understand how people would be quick to blame the client, we think that is completely the wrong way to look at it.
When it’s all said and done, a piercer always has the option to say, “No, I won’t do that because I know it’s a bad idea.” In the case of a project like this, something that was never going to have any chance of being successful, we believe the piecer has an obligation to say “No, I won’t do that because I know it’s a bad idea.”
In our opinion, the blame for this project happening in the first place, and the blame for its ultimate failure, falls on the shoulders of the piercer who performed it.
No matter how complex or how small your piercing wishes might be, please take the time to research the person(s) you are considering letting work on your body. Just because someone is on TV, has a lot of followers on the internet or makes a lot of “noise”, it doesn’t automatically mean they are the person you should trust.
If a situation doesn’t ‘feel’ right, if you are being told something that goes against what other reputable piercers have told you and/or if someone is telling you something that sounds too good to be true, please walk away from the situation, do some more research and give it some more thought.
Thanks for taking the time to read all of this.
We hope you will like and reblog it so we can educate as many people as possible, to help prevent others from having to experience something like this.
The “official” story has been changed so many times as each new lie has been created to try to save face. We’ve heard that these piercings were NOT done by a certain reality TV “piercer”, that these were a copycat who failed in executing them as well. Then as the celeb in question called his client in to remove the rest of them (because this is in fact HIS WORK), the lie was concocted that these piercings were lost due to a car crash. Meanwhile the client was led to believe that her fluctuation in weight gain and loss were the problem. The funny thing about television, is that it gives instant credibility to whomever is inside the little box. It doesn’t matter if they are incompetent, lacking morals, or just an outright liar. In fact in many cases, those qualities make them BETTER television personas. Here at Anomaly, we don’t care who idolizes a piercer (or piercing actor). We are more concerned with client safety and consent. We know Body Piercer is not a life worth idolizing, we live it daily. Even when the cameras are off. It requires constant education, outreach, communication with industry peers and volunteering knowledge for the sake of the general population. It doesn’t pay great financially, but is extremely rewarding intrinsically. We do it because we love it, and we do it right because we want everyone to have the best experience possible. That’s also why we have decided to repost this blog which highlights many of the same issues we had with this project. PLEASE research your piercer, no matter how big or small you think the project is. Even if it’s just for some “normal” ear lobe piercings. Don’t settle for less than the best, you are worth it… so require it. :)
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I’ve debated writing this blog for a while, as I’m sure it will likely spark some intense feelings within some of its readers. The truth of the matter is that while my opinion may vary from some, what makes our modern progressive time so great is that we have the ability to listen and try to understand each other without seeing different opinions as personal attacks. I hope that those who read this blog and don’t agree will consider my points with an open ear and open heart just as I have with the blogs that have come before me of differing opinion. I have decided to include this blog on our business website because traditions, rites of passage and rituals of other cultures are the origins for the body adornment procedures we offer as a professional service at Anomaly on a daily basis. The subject of this blog pertains to every single person who has ever purchased a piece of jewelry, received a body piercing, or attended a suspension event. It is with these clients and friends in mind that I feel I can not keep my opinion quiet any longer. It is time to confront the demon of cultural appropriation and really explore our true feelings on the subject.
It has come to my attention recently that one of the new big catch-phrase causes for young activists is “cultural appropriation”. By definition cultural appropriation means one specific cultural group has adopted elements of another culture. It typically has a negative connotation and usually refers to a more dominant group adopting habits, rituals or other elements of a minority group. Some examples I have heard as of late would include “Westerners” using the term “Namaste” which is historically a salutation and valediction originating in the Indian subcontinent. The term has Sanskrit roots and basically means “bowing to you” or in the Hindu belief it refers to one bowing to the Divine presence within another. Modern activists would have us believe that saying this phrase, which is commonly done at the end of many yoga classes for example, is somehow stealing a piece of something belonging to someone else. Another example of cultural appropriation often mentioned and far more relevant to what I do for a living, is the wearing of ancient jewelry and/or the creation of modern jewelry that mimics ancient or ethnic designs. The idea would be that this might seem like a mockery or an insult to the cultures that originated the designs. Perhaps the ancient civilizations - some of whom are no longer around to express any discontent with the way their adornments are being used in modern society - would prefer that significant pieces of their society are kept sacred within their own communities locally. Another big example might be rituals. Many of us in the body modification community have incorporated flesh rituals into our lives. For some they hold a sacred meaning, and for others they hold more of an entertainment value. Regardless it is something we have chosen to do to ourselves, yet most of these rituals - be it flesh suspension or even just ear piercing - were created by communities and societies long before our modern society existed. The argument might be that modern man has no right to these rites. Perhaps without proper guidance from a shaman or elder well versed in those traditions we can never truly recreate the sanctity of the ritual conditions. Perhaps not.
In this modern time we do want to approach life with a sensitivity and respect for all those we encounter, so I have a high regard for those who find this issue of cultural appropriation a priority in their lives. To me it shows that they want to be conscious of others around them and aware of the impact they have on the world. A very noble gesture. Unfortunately though I feel it is sometimes a little misguided (at least in my opinion). Let’s take for example the use of the term Namaste. Does one have to be born a practicing Hindu for the presence of the Divine to be seen within them or by them within another? Would performing this greeting be malicious or seem offensive to someone from southern Asia? I find it hard to believe either of those would be the case, in fact being a great fan of religious studies I have heard quite a few Hindu speakers express the opposite. I have spoken with friends from India, Indonesia and other parts where the term Namaste is used frequently and when asked if they were offended by Westerners using the term I have only received laughter and a unanimous “no”. In fact several people cited that they felt comforted and welcomed when strangers attempted to understand or communicate with them in their native terms. There may not have been a complete understanding of the origin language or culture but it was a sign of peace and attempted common ground. We will never know what citizens of ancient civilizations would think of our adoption of their jewelry designs, but those cultures still around seem to be welcoming the interest with open arms, and welcoming the business enterprises available because of sudden popularity in certain jewelry styles. Of course the financial market and trade systems are a completely different subject and one that by no means justifies anything in the eyes of a true activist, but barring the destruction of the systems already in place it is still a relevant consideration. Many see the acceptance and desire for different cultural jewelry designs as a means to help end poverty in their villages or communities - to provide the revenue streams for enhancements in quality of life like water filtration and sanitation relief. As for flesh rituals, there does seem to be concern stemming from the proper “spiritual” guidance during these ceremonies. The concern is not so much one of insult from untrained persons attempting the rituals, but of worry for their safety and desire for the tradition to be honored to its fullest intended meaning. A medicine man for instance would not be concerned with keeping someone from experiencing a sweat lodge ceremony, but he may have sincere worries for the safety and meaning of such a ritual that were performed without the guidance of a trained holy person. It is a tradition and a heritage passed down, and with ritual ceremonies every gesture is symbolic, every tiny detail has a meaning easily misunderstood or overlooked by someone untrained. In all cases though it is important to note nothing is stolen from any specific culture. Stealing by definition means to take something (usually physical property) belonging to someone else without the intent to return it. None of these things were taken, and the adoption of them by another group does not preclude the originating group from possessing them. If a self help guru decides to hold a sweat lodge ceremony of sorts out in the desert, it does not keep a member of an indigenous tribe from still experiencing his people’s holy ceremony. It may seem silly and frivolous to him, and if people are injured or hurt during the newer version there would be a sadness and worry, but it does not affect his sacred act with his people. Nothing was stolen. Ancient jewelry can be physically stolen, but the only person affected is the owner of the specific piece of jewelry. Being inspired by an ancient design to create something more modern does not create a loss for anyone, financially or otherwise. If anything it creates more interest in learning about the culture that the design came from. I feel like I am beating this point into the ground, so I won’t continue any more with it, but instead direct your attention to something just as important… especially for activists to consider.
Who benefits from the these separatist ideas of keeping aspects of certain cultures purely for members of those cultures? The Romans had a wise judge Lucius Cassius who reportedly was known for using the phrase “cui bono”, or in other words “with benefit to whom?” This phrase insinuates that sometimes the accuser may have a vested interest in the outcome of any decision achieved from the accusation. By thinking about who benefits most from a situation we may sometimes see through the subtle manipulation or disguised performances behind the stage of seemingly blunt query. When I think of who would benefit from keeping cultures separate, from attempting to make a group of predominantly Caucasian individuals feel guilty for expressing interest in things outside of their familial upbringing, I think of racism. Racism is defined as prejudice against a person or group of people based on their race. Race is defined as a group of people sharing the same culture, history, language or other similar common features. Telling members of one race they cannot partake in something that interests them simply because they are not from the race of people that created that thing, is by definition racist. Many modern activists feel the need to write rules for what the “white race” can and cannot enjoy or partake in, usually under the guise of sensitivity towards other races. This goes far beyond acknowledgement of cultural differences and acceptance, it becomes fascist in the generalized use of the term - meaning extreme authoritarian and intolerant views and practice. I don’t use the term lightly. Does this mean I believe these socially conscious activists to be evil or bad? No. In fact I believe many of them are simply too caught up in attempting to be the best versions of themselves they can be, and attempting to lend a voice for those they deem oppressed or voiceless, that they do not realize they might actually be propagating the agenda of those with the very intolerant mindset they hope to abolish. Without even going too far into the generalization that most of these activists are of the white race themselves, and the vast majority in my experience also having come from backgrounds devoid of immersion into the very cultures they claim to speak for, one has to stop and question what gives anyone the right to proclaim themselves a voice of another cultural group. Doesn’t assuming your intentions speak for the good of another people actually do more to undermine the strength and beauty of said people, objectifying them through your benevolence? White supremacists are the ones who win by keeping cultures separate. White supremacists can continue to believe the idea of a purified bloodline if there is no cultural integration. White supremacists can continue to distort the understanding and feelings of their followers if the followers have no interaction with people of different cultures. If you never met someone from another land, you are more willing to take at face value every bad thing you have heard about that land. Meeting people from other cultural groups and enjoying things inherent to those groups makes them seem more human, makes it easier to find commonality, to dispel fear and insecurities of difference. This would be more harmful to the white supremacy movement than any other single act. White supremacists want white people to live the way they believe white people should live. To do the things they believe white people should do. To eat the foods they believe white people should eat. And to avoid anything that falls outside of those lines. This sounds eerily like the anti-cultural appropriation agenda of late. The first indicator you’ll see is that the subject of most of this activism is typically referred to as those of “white privilege”. I don’t claim that there isn’t a level of privilege inherent to most Caucasian males born in our time period. I by no means am trying to revise history to act like there haven’t been and continue to be gross injustices in civil liberties among different gender and racial groups (as well as others). But what you will notice with this emerging agenda is that the rules of what must be avoided or considered culturally insensitive is primarily focused on those of the “white” cultural group. Which means the rules of what is culturally insensitive for black people, Asians, Native Americans and all “other” cultural groups aren’t important. The excuses mentioned for this have ranged from “it is impossible for the oppressed to become the oppressors” and “the intention is different/lack of malice”. The cowardice to create a system of rules for each cultural group leads to singling out one specific group, which once again is simply racist. Separation leads to misunderstanding, fear and potential hatred between groups. And really the whole thing is fueled by assumption. The assumption that cultural groups feel invalidated or disrespected when their traditions are adopted by others. The assumption that this primarily carried out by white privileged males and often for the sake of financial gains. The assumption that a person or group of persons who are radically minded have the best interest of everyone in mind, and the assumption that the same group of people understand all of the complex issues of each cultural group and have the ability to pass judgement on all of their behalves. Not just ability, but also authority. The assumption that separation of cultural traits will maintain some sort of betterment for the groups involved and the assumption that being vehemently opposed to racism will keep one from participating in racist acts themselves. It is clear to me that many of these assumptions are simply not correct. Many of the same people that believe cultural practices should remain unique to the origin cultures are the first to jump in and try to change those cultures because the ideals of sexuality, individualism, gender roles, property law or animal welfare do not conform to the the beliefs of the well-meaning activist. Many people want to have it both ways. So does this mean it’s totally cool to throw on that super revealing “Pocahontas” costume next Halloween? Cool might be going a bit far. But similarly it’s probably not super cool to throw on that super revealing police costume either. The intention of those costumes are where the mockery lies. I am not offended by white privileged males portraying Croatoans on stage in a historical drama, it’s not the fact that someone is dressing as something they aren’t that is offensive. That is simply just the whole concept of dressing up. If you dressed as what you are on Halloween, it would not be a holiday… it would be just another day. The offensiveness is not so much in the appropriation of the culture, but in the lack of understanding or reverence for the culture. The intention is key. And once again looking at someone’s clothing or haircut or jewelry and deciding that you know their motivations is about as ignorant as telling a black man from the UK he is an African American. In fact, I had a girlfriend that I loved dearly (let’s be honest, I still do despite the demise of our relationship) who is a Canadian citizen. Her father’s family is from Jamaica. On a road trip one time we stopped at a road side vendor selling minerals and rocks, and he referred to her as being African American. This started some debate about whether she was actually African American or not. Being that her dad is of Afro-Carribean descent and she was born on the continent of North America the term is most likely valid, but it was still a very weird thing to process as she had never really been referred to in that way before. It was almost dismissive of who she really feels she is and in some ways insulting, yet the person who said it had all the best of intentions. If you trace it back far enough we all originated in Africa (except maybe those of us from outer space), so at what point does the ancestral definition lose meaning? Conversely some of these so-called free thinkers who are pushing this separatist agenda find themselves attempting to justify their feelings based on the assumption that they have a relation to the groups represented. I have heard some say things along the lines of “my father got a DNA test and he had 19% African heritage so that means I have the right to be the voice of African American concerns” or “my great great grandmother came up from Mexico and settled here, and even though I don’t speak Spanish and have never set foot on the land she grew up in, I feel qualified to be the voice of Latin America”. The assumptions are often just as misleading to the person about themselves as they are about the ideals they hold for others.
In the end I think what is most important to take from this is that cultures have borrowed elements from each other since the dawn of time. Early Christianity borrowed many rites and rituals from the pagans before them. Many civilizations borrowed DNA from the other cultures they encountered through mixed marriages and offspring. Languages have borrowed ideas and roots from other languages. It is the way of intellectual evolution. We add the sum of our parts and increase our knowledge. Wear dreadlocks if you want to, you don’t have to be Rastafarian. Sport that crucifix you think is so beautiful despite being an atheist. I will continue to wear my Maasai mindo ear weights and beaded cuffs despite having never spent a single day in a Maasai village. As long as it is done with reverence and respect for the culture, love for the original meaning or appreciation for the aesthetic, and without malicious intention, then I have the utmost pride in your decision. To respectfully partake in a little cultural appropriation of my own, I leave you with the great Sioux saying “mitakuye oyasin”, we are all each others’ relations. Instead of finding reasons to separate more, let us nurture our relationships and find beauty in our differences. So much beauty that we want to sing to the heavens and adorn ourselves like an homage to each other. Thank you for your time and consideration of my thoughts, it means the world to me.
Wado (Thank You)