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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SJSU chapter.

The whole idea of body modification seems to be one subject to harsh perspective even today.  Despite the more open approach displayed by those who have common body modification ornaments like piercings and tattoos, I constantly find myself slightly taken aback when I hear so many people around me being placed in family restrictions that do not allow them to even consider these forms of expression.

I, for one, have always grown up in a family environment which viewed body modification rather nonchalantly. I had close family friends who owned tattoo parlors and were hence completely decked out with art on every inch of their exposed skin. I grew up viewing this as a rather bold form of art – one that took bravery and respect rather than rebellion or disdain. My aunts and uncles had gone through phases in their youth where piercings were their form of marking adulthood in their lives, and I grew up admiring the different types of jewelry that hung from helixes and bellies.

I have personally come across many people who simply do not understand why anybody would put themselves through the pain that these forms of body modification entail. To be honest, it’s something that I can’t really explain either.

As mentioned, I’ve always appreciated body modification as pure self-expression.  Marking something on your skin holds such significant meaning in my eyes because making the decision to do so never really comes without thought. It’s usually a decision-making process laced with emotions, sentimental values, love and a reason to live. The moment I decided I wanted to get a tattoo came when I was 13 years old after I lost all the weight that I thought stifled my confidence but yet still found myself struggling with self-love in the dawn of this new image. The tattoo that I wanted to be etched on my back was supposed to remind me for the rest of my life that my mind and my soul owns the key to my own heart, not anyone else’s. It was a move which held such permanence that I felt protected by it, and it was something that I wanted to be done when I graduated college.

As for piercings, they have always been a form of confidence-building for me. With each piercing that I get, I feel like I have something on me that adds strength and beauty. Maybe it’s the sparkle, who knows? The latest piercing that I got was a septum piercing, and it was something my family took a while to swallow. I remember looking into the mirror right after it was done and just feeling uplifted. I felt a little new, a little different and hey, I felt pretty.

The stigma surrounding altering the way your body looks is one stemmed from all sorts of things – religion, family values and so on. It’s not something that I shame people for disliking, but I do believe that it’s something that should be loved and respected. We’re all still beautiful together.


A 3rd Year Journalism student at San Jose State University. I enjoy writing about an array of things, branching from opinions and thoughts about life to current happenings occurring in the world today. I appreciate being in tune with my feelings and my opinions through my work, more often than not observations of the people and situations around me. I have a dream of allowing people to capture the dark and golden elements of life through the things that I create, be it through writing, pictures or videos.
Shellise West is the current campus correspondent at San Jose State University. Majoring in journalism with a minor in radio, television and film she plans to not fall short of fulfilling her dream as a sports reporter. A Bay Area native her hobbies include singing, dancing and listening to music. Follow Shellise on Twitter @SoulfulPenned.