This actually applies to people with what you may consider to be deviant hairstyles or clothing as well.
Some common misconceptions:
Body modification is limited to tattoos and piercings
Incorrect. People modify in many ways. Some modifications to the body include hair coloring and cutting, body building, tattoos, piercings, subdermal implants, tanning, plastic surgery, hormonal modification (as in the case of transgender and queer people), transitional surgeries, acrylic nails, tightlacing (corsets), dieting, scarification, and various skin treatments for conditions such as acne.
In what ways do you modify? What sets your modifications apart from what you consider to be more ‘extreme?’
People modify their bodies for attention.
No. People modify for many reasons, including but not limited to:
-milestones in their lives
-tribute to ancestry
-tribute to their departed loved ones
-to exhibit a sense of control over their own bodies
-to test themselves
These are just a few reasons, but a vast majority of people do not modify purely for attention. It’s safe to assume they didn’t.
But if a modification is visible, they must want me to see it, which makes it my business.
Just no. Please remember that modifications, visible or not, are still parts of someone else’s BODY.
Just like a short skirt isn’t an invitation for catcalling and assault, a visible mod is not an invitation for strangers to come up and touch, stare at, or say rude things about another person’s body. Which brings me to etiquette:
If you can’t say something nice, be quiet.
This one’s pretty simple. If you have nothing kind to say about someone’s chosen body modification, seriously, just keep your mouth shut. It’s rude. Your opinion doesn’t change anything about that person’s choice, so don’t fuck up their day by insisting on stating it.
Please keep in mind that the modified person before you probably answers questions about their mods ALL DAY. EVERY DAY.
Some common questions:
Did that HURT?
What’s the meaning behind that?
Why did/would you do that?
Can you explain how that works?
What IS that??
What does it say?
While a majority of people who ask these things may be good-natured and curious, it can get tiring. Think before you speak. Yes, of course it hurt, don’t be an asshat.
A special note on “Why did you get that?” or “Can you explain the meaning?”
Some modifications, like tattoos, can be extremely personal. I can’t stress this enough. And again, just because you can see it, doesn’t mean you have a right to the motivations behind someone else’s decision about their body.
If you must ask, be respectful, and if the person declines to share, LEAVE IT. Don’t be a buttface and DEMAND to know the reasoning behind it. None of your business. Period.
For fuck’s sake, don’t touch without permission
This one speaks for itself, and cannot be emphasized enough.
Your parents or guardians probably taught you that it’s rude to stare.
They were right.
Remember that even though a person has turned their body into a work of art, they still a person.
All people have feelings, even the modified, so keep it in mind. And to the assholes who justify their rudeness with, “Well if they are going to do that to themselves, they ought to be prepared for it,” fuck off.
Seriously. You obviously aren’t nice or empathetic. You’re rude.