Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Body Image - Are the stereotypes outdated?

This is quite an irritation of mine and a point that is quite important to me.

When I say body image, I mean more along the lines of modifications such as piercings and tattoos and the social stereotypes that go with them. I am a strong believer in people having the right to do what they want with their bodies, be that cover every inch of their bodies in ink and metal or keep it exactly as the day you were born - that's your choice. Sadly it seems a lot of people disagree with this and there are a lot of judgements surrounding these areas, regardless of the fact that piercings and tattoos are becoming more and more popular. There are stigmas attached that just seem impossible to shake despite the fact that in a lot of cases (that I've experienced) they are just not true.

I personally like tattoos, not such a great fan of piercings but I have a couple of them too. I am not covered by any standard but I do have 6 quite large tattoos and have my lip, auricle and ears pierced. Now some people will initially read that and make some probably not flattering assessments of me, that's human nature. But I love every single one of my tattoos, they are beautifully done and worth every penny to me. My piercings are also rather subtle, in my opinion. I have a lot of friends though that have loads of tattoos/piercings and those who have none. My best friend doesn't even have her earlobes pierced. Some people would say that was weird.

So, the prejudice against such modifications. When I booked to have my tattoo on my spine I had originally wanted to have it continue up my neck and around behind my ear but the tattooist strongly advised against going any higher than my neckline. Why? Because it may affect my future job prospects as I was studying Law at university at the time. I therefore had to adapt my original design, but is it fair that a person would be judged on that basis? Am I the only person that thinks a person should be judged on their abilities, qualifications and personality and not physical appearance (I know people with weight issues have been judged negatively in job interviews solely on that basis also, is that fair?!) I have also had to take piercings out for job interviews, even my current boss was less than pleased the first time I wore my lip piercing at work, despite having been perfectly happy with my ability to perform my job beforehand, but is fine with it now and it has in no way hindered my work.

I also know many professionals that have (beautiful) tattoos - in places that can be covered. My mum is a primary school teacher, and a pretty damn good one if I say so myself, and has 3 different tattoos that she keeps covered at work, would it make a difference to her capabilities if she didn't hide them? And my dad is a lead nurse on an Intensive Care ward and has many large tattoos over his entire body that he keeps covered also, and yet he is very well respected by other people within the hospital and has worked his way up through promotions very quickly due to his work ethic.

I think the problem is that the stigma attached to such body modifications is that those with them are 'rebellious...criminals...bad news...intimidating...offensive...thugs' but in many cases this just isn't the truth. OK, admittedly in some cases they are correct assumptions but there are many that differ from that opinion. Many are beautiful pieces of artwork that have genuine, deep meaning to that person, and who is anyone to judge that? They are all a means of self-expression and those that judge harshly most likely don't understand the desire to express this on your body.

What are your opinions on body art? Have you got personal experiences with the stereotypes surrounding it? Or maybe you have a conflicting opinion to me? Either way, I would love to hear all your views on this point :)