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Old 05-21-2010, 10:30 AM   #1
trvvn5
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OT: Piercing/Tattoo Prejudice
I find it hilarious how many times I get asked by people of an older generation what my piercings mean. I have been asked, on probably 20 different occassions this exact question, "What does that bar in your ear mean?"

I usually look kind of dumbfounded at the person while I try to ascertain what they are really asking. I mean, its a piercing, its just there for decoration. 90% of the time, the person asking is an older lady who has her own ears pierced in a traditional fashion. I generally ask them why they got their ears pierced. To which some will reply that it was just so they could wear earrings for decoration.

I am by no means pierced to death either. At this point I only have a rook piercing, and an industrial. Both of which are in the ears and not all that odd. I used to have many more piercings, but tended to not get questions about those. I also had my ears gauged to 0s as well. But those have since been taken out as well and have shrunk back to a normal size.

I often wonder where this question comes from though. And am usually very confused by its origin. What does that piercing mean? is such an odd question. Part of me thinks that it must stem back to when gay men supposedly wore one earring in the right ear to signify their gayness, though I've never met any gay man who did this. It makes me wonder if that is what they are asking. Or if they are wondering if it signifies that I'm in a gang. I don't know. I just find it such an odd question.
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Old 05-21-2010, 11:13 AM   #2
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My guess is that they are just not asking the right question.

It was like when I worked at the theatre....the question "do these stairs go up?" was asked. It was one of those questions that wanted to make you beat your head against the wall. Clearly the stairs go up...what they wanted to ask was "do these stairs lead to [where I want to go]?"

While it could be simular to the "gay ear" question...I have a feeling it is probably a misasked question.

I don't know...quite frankly I can't figure people out. A piercing is a piercing...it often doesn't mean anything more than the person who has them, likes piercings. On a tattoo it makes sense...on piercings...not so much...

My tattoo is music notes connected with a vine and a blue rose all around my ankle. I rarely get asked if the music notes are to anything...and they are...the are the music to The Rose. *shrugs*...I don't know!
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Old 05-21-2010, 12:01 PM   #3
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I have 8 earlobe piercings, a helix and a navel piercing. No-one has ever asked what they "mean" though me being a girl may have something to do with that. Ironically two of my piercings I got to commemorate events, the helix was for one of my birthdays (my piercer gave 1/2 off on your birthday, too) and the navel I got to commemorate raising $2000 and walking 60km (in August, in two days) for a cure for Breast cancer.

Maybe you should make up something like "I got this one to commemorate climbing Mount Everest."
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Old 05-21-2010, 01:33 PM   #4
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I agree she's probably not asking the right question. If you're really open to discussing it or enlightening her/him then ask if they mean something else and then tell them. Then they won't have to ask anymore.

The below bit is my personal opinion and I hope it's tactful enough not to get me in trouble -

As for prejudice.. I'm sure there are many people who very much are, but some aren't so much prejudiced as wary. When I was younger it was mostly a certain group of people who were pierced and tattooed. People often feared them and stereotyped them to be druggies, troublemakers, etc. I doubt they caused anymore trouble than anyone else in reality, but fearing what you don't know and don't understand is a common emotion. It's partly human nature and part common sense and probably partly what has kept us on the planet so long.

My 80 yr old parents would cross the street to avoid a person with tats and piercings, but I'm 57 and it doesn't bother me although I do notice it (which is maybe the point) and wonder why on earth anyone would do that to themselves. No need to answer that because I know..I just disagree that it's attractive.
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Old 05-21-2010, 01:53 PM   #5
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I think Jan has summed up what I've seen very well. Depending on where you live or how/where the questioners grew up, decorating yourself with tatoos or multiple piercings just wasn't something that people in the mainstream did. In some cases, it was even unusual for a woman to get her ears pierced. My grandfather told his daughters that if they got their ears pierced, he'd pierce their nose. My dad (his SIL) thought that philosophy sounded like a good idea. So when my mom got her ears pierced at 40, it was a very big deal. Similarly, the first young man in my high school to get his ear(s) pierced did so while studying abroad (this was in the mid-80s). Piercings, for men in particular, just weren't mainstream. So getting a piercing, the mainstream thought, had to have been done for something. After all, why would you want to be that different? There were/are, I guess, some unspoken rules about it being OK to be different, as long as it was within certain parameters.
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Old 05-21-2010, 02:12 PM   #6
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I was the first boy to get pierced ears at middle school. So I guess I was the kid who didn't care.

I guess I've grown up in a completely different atmosphere. Where tattoos and piercings were just part of decoration like necklaces or earrings only permanent and a little different. And I think society has gone through some major changes in the past few decades, we've shifted from a group society to an individualistic society. Where people were trying so hard to fit in in the 50's, people now try harder to be different. So tattoos and piercings were just a form of being artistic and different and I suppose people who grew up in an ideology of fitting in that there would have to be some kind of reason that somoene would want to be on the fringe. Where as to us, we don't understand why someone would want to look like everyone else.
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Old 05-21-2010, 03:59 PM   #7
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I always check people's tattoos and piercings but have never wondered what they signify....Some tattos are true works of art and I admire the artistry. Piercings are not so interesting to me, just simply because I've never had anything pierced and it's so common. My husband had a tattoo on his arm with his first wife's name and although I didn't ask him to, he had it changed into a Marlin fish last year....I was glad....everyone used to ask him why he had "Wanda" on his arm and they know my name is Mary, now he never has to explain that again...so he's glad, too.
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Old 05-21-2010, 04:07 PM   #8
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I am 68 years old. I grew up in the late 40's and 50's. Some women got their ears pierced and wore small hoops. My mother did not get her ears pierced until she was in her 40's. Her father disapproved of that and women who cut their hair. I got my ears pierced in my 30's because dh wanted me to. I actually got the second ear piercing in my 40's so I could wear diamond studs because he wanted me to also. I can remember when I saw the first man with long hair. It was in the late 60's and I worked in a bank. Someone saw him in the Loan Department and we all took turns walking though the Loan Dept to get a look. Just so weird. I am sure he was aware of what we were doing but was very nice about it. lol Times change and people change their idea of what is acceptable. Who knows what our greatgrandchildren will think is cool!!!!
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Old 05-21-2010, 04:27 PM   #9
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I've never had anyone ask me what any of mine mean but I have been asked, often, why? My answer: Because I like it. Simple as that...I'm not trying to be different, I'm not trying to be "cool" or fit in anywhere, I just like it, period. No different than why people wear certain clothes or shoes or listen to certain music. Same with tattoos...I have only 10 right now but if I had the money, I'd be just about covered in tattoos...Why? Same reason, I like it. Not to mention it's great being able to break the stereotype. I love it when I hear people say to me "ya know, from the way you look I thought you'd be a b**ch but you're the sweetest person I know!"
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Old 05-21-2010, 04:35 PM   #10
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My non-biological grandfather had a bunch of tats on his lower arms...
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