Rebellion. Expressions of individuality. Fitting in to a coveted social group. Pronouncements of (or attempts to declare) leadership of a coveted social group. The reasons for youthful (and not-so-youthful) bodily adornment and deformation are numerous. And they take many forms: hair styles; earrings; earlobe flesh tunnels; tongue piercing; nose rings; simple tattoos; whole-body tattoos; tattoo “sleeves;” eyebrow piercing; bellybutton piercing; nipple piercing; piercings of other kinds; and on and on. Common wisdom says each generation lays claim to a unique form of expression that preceding generations do not condone, do not appreciate, and do not understand. Most of these forms of generational differentiation probably are harmless. Yet “adults” often believe otherwise (and, sometimes, the adults are right). Even when adults view such stuff as harmless indicators that the maturation process is functioning properly, they do not necessarily approve. Approval from adults is not necessarily what kids want, either. Kids might want their actions to taunt their elders. The predictable familial explosions that often follow can last a day or a lifetime. If supporters and detractors of these bodily expressions will simply allow their respective temperatures to decline naturally, long-term negative effects probably would fall just as far. But people are people. Wars have been fought over matters less important. Whether the problem is ignorance, stupidity, stubbornness, or some combination thereof, I suspect it is here to stay. And, by the way, I will readily admit that nothing I say about the subject matters.
So, I have an earring. Why did I get my ear pierced? Was it a youthful pronouncement of my individuality? At age 60+? I suspect vanity played an enormously important part in my desire to adorn my left ear with a loop or a stud, although I cannot quite pin it down. Vanity in what way? Did I think it would make me more appealing? More attractive? “Edgier?” Hell, I really do not know. But I suspect the idea of an ear piercing appealed to my desire to be unique—different from the majority of my age cohort. Perhaps the difference I sought was youth; I wanted to seem younger and I wanted my appearance to reflect my self-perception: more similar to 30-somethings than to 60-somethings. Pathetically attempting to cling to lost youth. So, if that was/is the case, shouldn’t the admission lead me to take off the earring and let the hole close up naturally? Perhaps. But I’m not about to stop wearing my ear adornment. I like it for some reason. Maybe I am just fooling myself. Maybe I am trying to trick myself into believing I am not a pathetic old man foolishly grasping for my inaccessible youth. If so, the ploy seems to be working.
Body jewelry and other such decorations are born of vanity. There is no question about it. Reading a few plums from people who have given the matter some thought is a worthwhile endeavor.
Naïveté in grownups is often charming; but when coupled with vanity it is indistinguishable from stupidity.
~ Eric Hoffer ~
And another quotation addressing vanity:
We are so vain that we care even for the opinion of those we don’t care for.
~ Marie von Eschenbach ~
And now, I will wander into the kitchen to see what damage I can do.