A visit with a piercer

By Julissa Espinoza, 18, Los Angeles HS
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Look ma!

It was a Saturday afternoon and my best friend and I decided to rent some movies. We were looking around the store and I didn’t notice anything strange about her until we were walking back home and she said, "Look!" and she stuck her tongue out with a sneaky face.

There in her mouth I saw a sparkling silver tongue piercing with a little red jewel inside. What a shock! I knew she was planning something to celebrate turning 18, but I couldn’t believe that she actually went out and got this done.

All these questions flooded my head: "When did you get it? How did you feel?" All she did was sort of laugh as if she had committed a crime. Right away I thought, "Oh, I have to go get mine done too."

She said it didn’t hurt—yeah right! I saw how much pain she went through afterwards. Poor buddy! She couldn’t eat. Her tongue was swollen. She had this droopy face and all she did was complain, complain and complain! I told her "Shut up! You wanted to get your tongue pierced so now take it and quit acting like a baby!" She said, "Wait until you get yours done! I want to see you going through this!"

Many people these days have some type of piercing, from their tongues to their heads! And when I see those people who actually had the guts to do something so outrageous I think WOW! OUCH! I have to give them props for being so brave, so outgoing. Although not all people think the way I do. Various teens think it’s gross or sort of weird. Others think it’s cool and a good way to upset your parents. And how do adults feel? Well, they think it’s degrading or just plain sick in the head! My mom thinks people who have piercings are nasty and crazy. She says, "They do it because they are insecure and want to get attention, it also gives them a nasty aspect." (You can tell she didn’t want me to get one.)

But why exactly do people get body piercings? Is it a fashion statement, a phase or because of peer pressure? I think people have different reasons and they are all valid when it comes to getting the work done. Rick Oehler, a body piercer at Thirteen B.C. on Melrose Blvd., listed a whole bunch of reasons: conformity, rebellion, spiritual reasons and aesthetics. Some do it because of their friends—but Rick said that if it seems like someone is being pressured by their friends, he tells the friends to back off. The person getting the piercing should be the one who makes the decision, he said. "And if the person is not ready, I turn them off and tell them to come back when they are."

The piercing chair ... dunh, dunh, dunh.

For some people, piercing seems to be a habit. I interviewed a guy named Josh on Melrose Blvd. who said he was 25 and had been getting piercings since he was 15. "I have seven piercings … from what I remember," he said.

Jenny Boonyindee, 17, a Los Angles High junior said, "I have friends with piercings. For them it’s cool but for me it’s weird. I think they’re just doing it for a fashion statement."

Why one teen got pierced

Rocio Jennifer Diaz, 15, a Los Angles High sophomore pierced her tongue. She said, "I did it to be rebellious. My parents don’t know about it because there is little communication between my parents and me, so that’s how I keep it a secret … My friends think it’s cool and I plan on getting my eyebrow and my bottom lip pierced."

She added, "Piercing is addicting and it does attract the opposite sex."

"It attracts me!" said her male friend.

Her advice: "People have their choice to do it. If you do it, do it for yourself, for who you are … People say if you have your tongue pierced, you’re easy, but that’s not true, you just don’t know me!"

Others judge people with piercings. As Rick said, "What they don’t understand, they condemn."

To me a piercing is just like a piece of clothing. It’s like wearing baggy jeans. The person wearing them might be good or bad—but it’s not the jeans that makes him or her that way. I mean, come on, can the baggy jeans actually get up and do something bad? NO and neither can the piercing.

A few months after I saw my friend’s piercing, I was at the piercing studio getting my tongue done. I’m not sure why. I did it to prove a point to everyone and myself, I guess to show my courage. Maybe, since everyone thinks I’m such a goody-goody, a piercing will show them that there’s more to me than meets the eye. Although my mom is really mad about my piercing, and she says she won’t speak to me until I take it out, I wish I could tell her it’s the person inside that counts, not what he or she wears.