A mix of curiosity, boredom, and contempt for being confined indoors during yet another Northeast snowstorm this season led me to Google (the boredom killer since the ’90s). Instead of searching for cute cat pics, the closest Buffalo Wild Wings, or what to do when your baby is teething—all, I hate to admit, are in my recent history—I simply searched “piercing.” Why not, right? The results were interesting, to say the least.
Hits came back for Wikipedia, tips on how to obtain safe piercings, and links to local spots. Then I hit the “News” filter: “Student allegedly ran piercing operation at Chesterfield middle school,” “Oral Piercing – Is it worth the risk?,” 8 Celebrities and their Crazy Piercings,” “Tattoos, body piercings potential risks for Hepatitis C, HIV,” and the now infamous woman who “almost died” from a botched pair of cheek piercings. (More information on this story can be found here.) While I could write about each and everyone of these topics, it was the headlines themselves that struck me. Notice anything in particular? Risks? Survived? Crazy? Almost died?
These words cut through me. After spending the last five years of my life working in the industry I have loved for the last decade I thought things were different. (I had convinced myself public perception of piercing had shifted and things were getting better, especially better than “crazy.”) But what these words, and these headlines, did was serve as a reminder that while we—as an industry—have in fact come a long way, we still have a long way to go.
So what can we do to change public perception and make our industry safer for ourselves and our clients:
Continue to do what we do best, i.e. perform clean and safe piercing procedures using the highest-quality tools and jewelry.
Continue educating ourselves and others. The Association’s annual Conference is not only a great place to take classes and brush up on techniques, it is a great way to network and swap stories, ideas, and industry tips and tricks. (And the more we know, they more we can share with our clients!)
Share our positive experiences online. It has been said over and over again, but it warrants repeating: We—as an industry—are responsible for how others perceive us, and how others remember us. As James Weber stated in issue #57, “we define ourselves by what we write about ourselves,” and I feel the same is true of what we record and share. Post pictures of properly placed piercings and high-quality jewelry, share videos of piercing procedures, and counteract the “scare” stories with the positive ones—in The Point, your Facebook feed, on your blog, or in another industry publication.
Change takes time, and it comes from within. Sure, we can ignore these headlines—pass them off as rare exceptions and chalk them up to ignorance—but, to quote Ghandi, “if we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” And with continued dedication and persistence to be the best body piercers we can be, we can shift this dynamic.
For more information about sharing piercing photos and videos online, and tips on precisely how to “make safe piercing viral,” check out our Social Media page.