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I think the “trendiness” of body modification affects actual enthusiasts and society in two completely different ways. The actual enthusiasts (ie: artists/piercers/and those into modification for reasons other than trendiness) seem to view the trendiness, at least from my observation, with a bit of hostility/discontent. It seems among this crowd, the trend is kind of mocking what they believe modification to be. Their rights of passage, rituals, adornments, and in the case of practitioners their very livelihoods are being cheapened by a trend. It’s the same scenario “underground” or non-mainstream musicians/bands go through when they hit the big time. Their original fans consider themselves superior to the new fans that just “jumped on the band wagon” because it’s now the new cool thing and often disassociate themselves from the band because of their newfound trendiness.
On the other-hand, I think society on the whole is affected in a rather positive way by the sudden trendiness in body modification. In the same sense that people are desensitized to violence by being bombarded with it through television, movies, etc. the more tattoos, piercing, brands, and other modifications are seen, the less shock value they will hold. Thus, the less shock value they have, the more they will be accepted and integrated by general society.
Granted, I’m sure there are those who would view acceptance of mods as the norm a negative thing because they would no longer be considered different or set apart from the masses, but on the grand scale of things it would be a definite advantage for modified individuals. If mods became the norm, or at least not frowned upon, a whole new spectrum of opportunities would arise for the modded community in terms of treatment, careers, etc. So the next time you see that sixteen year old cheerleader showing off her new navel piercing to anyone who will look, or the guy at the Dairy Queen who thinks he’s hardcore because he didn’t cry when he got his tongue pierced, don’t look down on them; rather, think of them as one more signature on a petition for modded rights or one more step towards acceptance.
Maybe I should translate this question more to something less technical, and relate it to an example.
If someone is getting a bod mod because of it being "trendy" ( as in a fan's favorite pop star has a piercing and that fan wants to have the same piercing), how does this affect bod mod enthusiasts?
Well, I'd tend to think first off, that if a person is getting a bod mod because it is "trendy", they are getting it done for the wrong reason.
As far as how it affects bod mod enthusiasts? That remains to be seen. I'd tend to think that true bod mod enthusiasts would frown upon them, based on the fact they didn't get the bod mod for themselves and instead got it because it was "trendy". I'd even hasten to say that most bod mod enthusuasts have an individualistic tendency, and in turn, would frown again because the person was trying to "conform" with the appearance of those who are "trendy", and not trying to be themselves.
(Assuming that the person got their "trendy" bod mod under the best of conditions, and it healed up correctly) How would this affect society's perception of modified people?
The more people that have bod mods, the more that the public gets to see them, and in turn forces the public to acknowlege that bod mods are here to stay. The public has (in my opinion) become biased based on the media's sometimes biased representation of bod mods. It's not that bod mod enthusiasts want to be treated special: we only want to be treated fairly, and if some people get a bod mod based on its "trendiness", it may just help those who are deeper into body mods to become more accepted by the public.
Generally the media will tag anything as a "trend" since it implies change and newness, increasing the story's excitement level — no one wants to read yesterday's news. This tagging tends to be utterly unrelated to the modification's popularity (or change in popularity), but instead is a reflection of the statement the article is making. Browsing through the news feed archives of either BME or Modified Mind you can see that body modifications are more likely to be labelled as "trends" (or more commonly "shocking" or "disturbing" trends) if the article is written as an uninformed Reefer Madness shock piece.
While I think readers of Modified Mind and BME are certainly informed enough to see through these shallow attempts to sell advertising, I have less faith that the average piercing or tattoo enthusiast (we forget sometimes that there is a massive difference in the mindset of a body modification enthusiast and a piercing or tattoo enthusiast), let alone the unmodified public, is immune to their lies.
Perceiving someone's actions as trend inspired is insulting and degrading. It makes the claim that the activity was pursued effectively because of peer pressure, and devalues any argument of personal aesthetics, inner drives, or personal empowerment. It makes the hateful implication that body modification enthusiasts are nothing but mindless drones wearing a costume that our "trend" has decided is going to best shock the mundanes.
Since when is self-realization and self-actualization a trend? I suppose it might seem that way to those who have chosen a lifestyle of spiritual blindness and conformist slavery, but trust me, you don't grow out of enlightenment!
To be upfront, I disagree with the question as it is phrased. The quotes around "trendiness" imply that there is a trend towards piercings, tattoos, etc. that is becoming both cliche and corny. I disagree with that. I also disagree with the wording of the question because it implies that there are many people now who are getting involved in the modification community because it is seen as a popular trend rather than because it is a serious pursuit or a meaningful form of personal expression.
This question is one that I feel is a symptom of a disturbing trend in the body modification community, and that is that we take ourselves and our modifications a little too seriously, and those of others not seriously enough. There is a growing sentiment that certain modifications and people with a certain amount of modifications are valid members of this community, while others are not. For example, I recall that when Christina Aguilara has her navel pierced, there was an outcry on bod-mod mailing lists that she wasn't "hardcore enough" or that it was "phony". Any interviews I've read or seen with her seem to indicate that she is genuinely interested in the modification community. So why do we turn our back on her? Because her music sucks? Where is the correlation?
I think the larger question at hand is, "What makes somebody a member of this community?" I don't think that there is a point system or awards table that we've calculated to see who is modded enough to be welcome. To paraphrase the parameters for iam.bmezine.com, the largest registered online community of individuals, "even an ear piercing is enough." So the bar is quite low for people that actively wish to be a part of this community. Does that mean that everybody with their ears pierced is a "modded individual?" Yes and no.
There will always be frat boys and cheerleaders who get a dolphin tattoo on their butt or a barbed wire armband, but that doesn't mean that those people see a heavily modded person as any less an oddball. They also aren't going to readily see what they have in common with a eunuch. Nevertheless, that correlation exists, that they have voluntarily decorated their body.
While the sheer bulk of people with an eyebrow ring or a tattoo has led the public to generally accept a person with very light modification, many negative connotations are associated with heavy modifications; otherwise T-Shirts that say "I Have Tattoos, No I don't Have Hepatitis" or "Ask Me If It Hurt" wouldn't need to exist. People with many prominent modifications, especially facial modifications, are not being seen any differently than they were before, in my opinion. The fact that rock stars and basketball players have tattoos and the like does nothing to further society's understanding of modification for the reason that we hold these people ina different category, that of celebrity.
For example, the public never saw Dennis Rodman as a modded individual who was expressing himself; they saw him as a freak with tattoos and piercings, but accepted it because he was famous.
So, to boil it all down, I think that there is a growing trend towards bourgoise elitism growing in the modification community towards lightly modded people. It may be a small portion of the community now, but I think it is growing in a proportionate ratio to the number of people being modded in general.
"Trendiness" is a mixed blessing for body modification. It certainly increases the visibility of modifications and procedures, and introduces their existence to people who might otherwise be uninformed or unaware. The growing interest in certain modifications, such as tongue or navel piercings, has brought attention to piercings that weren't even conceivable to some people a decade ago.
This level of awareness and popularity is integral to moving body modification into the mainstream. If society acknowledges modifications, and people with modifications become more numerous and visible, they should gradually become more acceptable. "Trendiness" may be the key to acceptance of body modifications and modified people. If modification moves to the mainstream, closer to social norms, we should see the decline of mod-restrictive dress codes and other forms of discrimination. Similarly, the perception of people with modifications should become more positive.
On the other hand, "trendiness" does have a negative impact on body modification and its enthusiasts. The word itself indicates that it is part of a movement or fad. There are many people who consider body modification to be part of a passing rebellion, something which people are doing as part of their youth and will grow out of.
The word "trendiness" also suggests that while modification is popular now, it will not be in the future.
As most enthusiasts are aware, many forms of body modification have existed since the birth of mankind. I highly doubt that something lasting millenia usually counts as a passing fad -- is the existence of clothing a "trend"? Will we think wearing clothing is uncool next year?
This perception of body modification as something recent and rebellious is detrimental to the public perception of modified individuals.
People who claim deep meaning and attachment for their modifications are not taken seriously. It is especially hard for young people with modifications, who are especially susceptible to society's idea that they are just following a "trend" set forth by peers and Hollywood idols.
I believe that "trendiness" is a necessary evil. If we want to see more acceptance and a better perception of mods and the modified, we will have to move body modification to the mainstream. The easiest way to do this is through visibilty and popularity -- which will inevitably keep body modification as a "trend" for some time to come.
This is an interesting question and I think there are two different ways that this might affect society and attitudes towards modded people. One thing that might happen is that when the "trend" subsides most of society might think less of mods since it was just a fad and thus nothing to be taken seriously. Subsequently the serious enthusiasts may be looked upon as even worse freaks than they were before the trend and considered has-beens that just doesn't know when to quit.
Another thing that might happen, and this is what we all probably hope for, is that atleast parts of society manage to see through the trend and see that there are people that are doing this for far more serious and fundamental reasons than it being a trendy thing to do. Hopefully this will make mods more accepted and not frowned upon as much.
As for "trendiness," alot of it comes from movies, programs, etc. Whatever the current generation seems to follow is the trend of the moment, but like all trends, the cute little navel doesn't always lead to the rose tattoo down the line.
Actual enthusiasts tend to, in some cases that I've seen, stay in their own little 'bubble of solitude,' and rarely step out of it. Not everyone, mind you, but those wonderful underground artists that KNOW what they are doing.
Sure, not everyone is an actual practitioner; around the body art form 24/7, and this allows for us to stay in the groove of things
What I consider trendy is not what the next person would even remotely consider fashionable in some instances. I never considered myself a trendy individual either, and I think that definately shows in my attitude at times.
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