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Safe in My Own Pierced Skin This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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I was a sophomore and waiting for the end of year, but also wishing that it wouldn't come because my mother was moving away. We didn't have a perfect relationship, but it was a precious one. It was a mystery to me how I would survive without her, or how I would say good-bye.

We decided to have a mother-daughter day. It was to be an extraordinary bonding day, and it was. I was treated like royalty. My mother wanted to make sure I was happy before she left. That seemed impossible, though, because what she was trying to compensate for was the very thing that was making me unhappy.

She asked if there was anything I wanted, anything at all. Jokingly, I said, "I've always wanted an eyebrow ring," expecting her to turn me down. When she said, "Okay, we can do that," I didn't know how to react, but it didn't take long for excitement to replace my uncertainty.

When we reached a safe, clean piercing place that I had researched, my mother asked for "an eyebrow ring thing for my chula." The man at the counter looked at her strangely. I doubt it was because of the Spanglish, but rather wonder - how many mothers accompany their daughters for a piercing? Probably very few. My mother checked the tools, the eyebrow ring itself and everything around it. She made sure the gentleman put on the cleanest gloves possible and used the most pristine needle, even though they were all in sterile packaging.

When it came down to it, my mother could not bear to watch. The man clamped the area that was going to be pierced and out came the especially sanitary needle. Now there was no turning back. He asked me to count to three. "One ... two ..." It was done before I could finish my countdown. This was a very effective procedure that cut down on my hesitation. A few moments later, there it was - two lustrous, silver balls connected by a bar sticking out of my skin in triumph. "Wow, wow, wow!" was all I could say.

"I almost like it," my mother proclaimed. "I don't like the fact that a piece of metal sticking out of your skin is going to remind you how much I love you, but I almost like it." There I was, walking home, eyebrow first, thinking this definitely was the day my mother had promised, unusual but special.

I received mixed reactions to my new accessory. My peers were shocked, fascinated and even speechless. Some wanted to poke at it, as if it were an illusion. I refused, of course, not wanting anything to contaminate my mother's memento. Adults had some negative reactions: "You probably got hepatitis" and "I don't think people should be putting holes in their bodies that don't belong there." I always think, Well, I don't mean to be rude, but I don't suppose you were born with those metal hoops dangling from your ears, were you?

With so much hate based on sex and race, I didn't think there would be room for piercing discrimination. I do suppose it emits a kind of image, but isn't that a stereotype? I have told my mother about some people displaying this ignorance.

"Well, when you go to college or become a professional, you're going to have to take it out," she advises. I highly doubt my piercing impedes any of my skills, my qualifications, or my abilities. So why would I have to remove it? Zora Neale Hurston said, "I am not my race, I am me." Well, I am not my piercing or the stereotype that comes with it - I am me.

I did not do it because of a fad. I did not do it to have a certain image. I am not angry. I am not a criminal. I am neither a poor student nor a bad person. It is jewelry like no other, not because of its location, but because it is a part of me and because of what it means to me. It's a symbol of the bond between my mother and me, which is something I never want to let go.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

Lady-Milano said...
Oct. 28, 2011 at 11:10 am
now im thinking of getting the tattoo iv always wanted
 
MKimmi said...
Mar. 4, 2011 at 5:46 pm
Nice! Extremely well written. I could feel the emotions. :DDDDDDDDDDDD
 
Student8949 said...
May 7, 2009 at 2:50 pm
In response to mulan not all things that one does turn out for the same reason you started them. Yes originally she didn't view it as a love connection, but that is what it has come to be to her, and thats what she will always remember it as. Haven't you ever done something for one reason but then by the end it has come to mean something totally different to you, i mean for me myself i used to play sports just for myself, but now i not lonly play for myself but for my dad who lost his abil... (more »)
 
INIRasta said...
May 4, 2009 at 2:50 pm
The subject is strangely fascinating. I'm biased because I've met the author.
 
Mulan said...
Apr. 19, 2009 at 1:07 am
Overall, this was an original and interesting essay, I agree that the stereotypes about piercings are similar to those against race and gender, but one must look at the author's reasoning for getting a piercing. Did she not want the piercing because she knew her mom would be likely to say no, because it is a generally unaccepted thing in society? So her final point stating that her piercing is a sign of love seems to contradict her original intentions behind asking for a piercing.
 
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