Saturday, May 14, 2011

From Purple Hair to Plates in the Lips

Sometimes when I look at my innocent, little six month old baby, I imagine all of the utter bullshit and nonsense this child is going to put me through when she's a teenager. I won't resent her for it, for such is the way of adolescents and lord knows, I'll be getting my just pay back for whatever foolishness I made my own parents endure.

The thing is, when I was a teenager, what we thought was bad twenty years ago, is now mild compared to what the kids today are doing. At the same time, what we did back in the late eighties was probably downright horrifying compared to what our parents did twenty and thirty years before that. Each generation tops the shock of the previous.

But how can that be sustainable? What could possibly be left for the babies born now (what are they called? Generation Z?) and how much worse could teenagers get than what they are now? I shudder to think of what these kids will grow up to get into that my old brain can't even conceive of.

When I was a teenager, the whole "goth" thing was just getting started and it was extremely shocking and not at all commonplace like it is today. After that, certain brave and exceedingly cool kids started getting into body modification. These days, every other so and so has a tattoo or a few, but back then tattoos were reserved for bikers and extreme trailer trash, so getting a tattoo was a super, huge massively big deal and good for years of shock value. Back then if you had a tribal tattoo you were seriously cutting edge. Twenty years later every douchebag in an Ed Hardy shirt has them all over.

I remember when the piercing thing started. Gen X-ers again were mild in comparison to today. My friend got her nose pierced with a diamond stud so tiny it always looked like she had a miniscule zit. You could barely see the thing, but oh my God, the horror of it all. People talked about her nose piercing for months.

Since the summer of the first Lollapalooza, I've seen the crazy things that kids will do to themselves escalate. We thought we'd done all there was to do back then by dying our hair Ronald McDonald red with Manic Panic, having double ear piercings on one side and by making out with boys who had dreads, but we'd barely scratched the surface of what we thought was so wild. By the time my sister got to high school everyone was piercing their tongues. Then their nipples, God forbid and the only girls left without their bellybuttons pierced were locked behind the walls of religious compounds.

In my classrooms in the past couple of years it's been common to see students with huge holes tunneled through their earlobes and various studs and spikes coming out of all parts of their faces (usually infected). So what's next? What kind of crazy shit will Baby Lawns' generation find to do to themselves to top all of this?

In the past week, I've seen three troubling trends in body modification. Apparently now, a lot of people are getting dental veneers to look like vampire fangs. This is idiotic (freakin Twilight, I hate that book) but it's not undoable. You can always get veneers removed, thank heavens. What you can't undo is elf ears. I saw on the news the other day that people are going to cosmetic surgeons and paying thousands of dollars to get their ears cut into points to look like elves or Vulcans. Worse still than elf ears, I saw a guy who had tattooed the whites of his eyes to make them permanently blue. Can you even imagine? These things trouble me greatly, because like I said before, how can you top tattooing your eyeballs??

I think I may have figured it out and I'd like to put it in writing to mark my words. By 2016 kids will be putting plates in their lips and stacking metal coils around their necks. In fact, I'm surprised no one's done either of those things yet.


Anonymous said...


It makes me chuckle to hear or read things like this. I am probably less than a decade younger than you, but as a result of my love affair with the modded world, I do know about the elfin/Vulcan ears and tattooed eyeballs. Actually I'm pretty sure I know exactly whose eyeballs it was that you saw. The vampire fangs... well that's new to me but the only qualm I would have is if it is indeed an unfortunate side-effect of Twilight fandom. Ugh. Totally, shamefully biased of me, I know.

I still have a hard time wrapping my head around why "grownups" today are so taken aback by "kids" today. You just listed off a handful of the things you did yourself that were crazy and shocking at the time... Do people forget about those things as they age and mature? Do they forget what drove them to such actions and modes of expression? It's hard to remember things from old points of view when you are constantly changing them and creating new ones.

Not sure where I was going with that, but I felt the need to respond somehow... Not as a criticism of you or defense of mods, however.

Unknown said...

Having been through three teenagers (besides myself 40 years ago)let me reassure you that, yes, Baby Lawns will do stuff that will shock you, but comfort yourself with this fact: She's doing it to shock you. This is why adults are higher on the food chain and always will be: We might not know what you're going to do next, but we know WHY you'll do it; because you want to show us how different from us you are. While they're getting their ears guaged and facial tattoos, they'd be mortified if their mother got a mohawk. So, . . . yeah . . . you know what you have to do. Sorry. :) P.S. They do grow out of it.

Anonymous said...

The vampire fangs are actually older than Twilight. There has been a whole vampire subculture for years.

I've been the tattoo/body piercing route. It's how I got through my divorce and subsequent bad relationships. I haven't got anything done since I married my husband. Coincidence?

Let's not forget that there are pageant mothers giving their children Botox. It is starting earlier than the teen years now. Hopefully, Baby Lawns will love herself just the way she is. I think she's off to a great start!

Bran mac Feabhail said...

People already do wrap coils around their necks and put plates in their lips.

Anonymous said...

By the time your baby is a teenager, the trend will have shifted, and teens will now shock their parents by being extremely straight-laced, uptight, and preppy ala Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties. Your daughter will probably wear a pantsuit to school. And it will be cutting-edge.

Alessandra said...

Anonymous 7:15 has a very good point. Once an extreme is reached, the pendulum swings back. They´ll certainly do it to shock the previous generation, so what that will be depends on what this generation will consider shocking behavior. It could very well be something silly and harmless like, oh, say, girls shaving their heads, or high heels for boys.

Then again, it could be bestiality (kidding!)

catherine said...

My neice just got frigging angel wing tattoos on her back from her mom for her 16th bithday in JUNE! shes not even 16 yet. they look like nasty porkchops glued on her back. I have never thought myself a prude, I love well done tattoos, these ones are not. and she's stuck with them forever, or if she gets them lazered off, scar tissue will cover half her back. I have bitten my tongue in half not to say anything.

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