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CON: Body modification has long-term consequences

Carly Thaw, George Washington High School

To be or not to be? To do or not to do? To speak up or remain silent? Life is full of choices made every day. Some choices are good; some are bad. Some choices have temporary consequences; others affect a person for the rest of his or her life.

Extreme body modifications fall into the latter category. When a teen decides to go through with body modifications such as tattoos or excessive, large or radically placed piercings, he or she is making a decision that will affect aspects of his or her adult life.

First of all, the process of undergoing body modification can be extremely dangerous to a person's health. For instance, in the fad of ear gauging, extreme caution must be used to prevent tearing of delicate tissues and subsequent infection during the difficult stretching process. Additionally, adornments must be properly cleaned once, if not twice, a day until the area is fully healed, which could take several months.

Before going through the procedure, individuals must consider whether they are prepared to deal with the pain of tender tissues on the mend and provide the twice daily cleaning regimen recommended by piercing professionals and doctors. Forgetting to do the basic necessities, like proper maintenance, results in infections such as gangrene, unsightly scars and fibrous tissue development.

Beyond health problems, appearance modifications can cause significant difficulty in future career and social development. In today's job market, people are judged at face value for their potential to fit in with the corporation's mission and other standards. For instance, companies dealing with conservative clients want their employees to look approachable and relatable so that the clientele will feel comfortable around them and want to do business with them again.

Many customers feel intimidated and/or put off by visible tattoos, non-traditional piercings and the preconceived notions and stereotypes associated with them. It's unfortunate that society reacts so tremendously to outward appearances, but that's just the way humans are, and it's doubtful that will change anytime soon.

 Before even dealing with clients, one must undergo a job interview. The minute a potential employee with a purposely distorted body enters the room, the interviewer's mind starts reeling, already judging the individual based on archetypical ideas of behaviors associated with people who participate in body modification.

Generally, the images that come to mind are of rebellious people on the fringe of society who chose to express themselves with permanent bodily contortion. Often these are not the type of workers companies want representing their business, especially in direct interaction with potential clients.

True, some industries wholeheartedly encourage self-expression, even through bold, avant-garde appearances. However, should a physically altered individual's circumstances change, and he or she must try to find gainful employment elsewhere, he or she must be prepared to face discrimination based on the choices in permanent visible ornamentation. For those seriously considering a tattoo or piercing and who, after weighing the pros and cons, are still set on going through with body modification, think carefully about the placement and the connotations of the modification element. In the end, it's up to the individual to decide whether or not to obtain an enduring modification of his or her body. People must bear in mind, though, that the choices they make in their youth, can have a huge impact on the rest of their lives.


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