One year. 100 articles. So we're having a Reader's Party. Come along to Upsidecrown.
Pierced as Fuck
28 May 2001
Getting my knees done was one step too far. One step beyond. Except that once the ring was in place, there weren't going to be any more steps anywhere - not for another six weeks until the skin had healed and I could bend my legs again. This was something that I hadn't banked on in the shop. None of my other perforations had caused the loss of movement. Clearly, things had gotten out of control.
My mum told last week that I looked like a fleshy sieve which irritated me more than I let on. I do not look like a colander. None of my piercings are exposed, all are filled with niobium or steel. Trying to drain pasta or vegetables through me would be a trying business. My younger sister put it better after arriving back from school at Christmas, clutching a pomander that she's made herself. The connection between the clove-stuffed orange and her big stud-filled sister didn't go unnoticed, and jokes about me being keeping pants smelling fresh went on until March.
I do actually blame my mum for all of this - if she hadn't got me on the habit so young then I might have taken up crochet instead. All my money could have been spent on spanking new yarn instead, and pus-stained cotton buds wouldn’t be scattered round the house. On holiday in Portugal when I was six months old one of the locals told mum what a handsome boy I was. The starter studs went in the day that we arrived back in Britain.
One simple misunderstanding! And here I am eighteen years later, a victim of my mother's fears of gender discrimination. Would she have made that appointment at Hair Flair for her firstborn to have metal rods pushed through baby flesh is she'd known what the outcome would be?
But I digress. The next pair of studs went in when I was five. By the time I started secondary school I had the potential to have nine pairs of hoops in my ears - and I hadn't even moved into the crunchy cartilage zone yet. But school being school, I was restricted to one piece of jewellery per ear only. After the constant influx of gold into my lobes for so many years, going back to such small amounts regressed me to my toddler days. What was a girl to do? I moved onto the parts of my body that no teacher could see.* Stomach first, and the longest period in history to get out of games whilst I waited for it to heal.
Then the crunchy parts of the ears. And that was an error - I'd assumed that "ear=simple=quick healing=painless";. Ha. And fool fourteen-year old that I was, I had both ears done at the same time. Three months of only being able to sleep on my back, stretching the necks of jumpers to avoid ear-brushing as they went on, not being able to answer the phone properly. The getting out of games excuse had long expired and I had Karen the Bitch-Queen Heffalump aiming the netball at my head in every match, even when we were on the same time.
Some people might have stopped at that stage. Lesser people may have taken a break, left their body free of adornment for a few years and re-evaluated what having lumps of metal pushed through their skin meant to them in a spiritual sense. Me, I was up to 21 and in gambling terms that seemed too lucky a number to stop at. So at the start of the summer holidays I hitched to Birmingham, found a studio that swallowed my false ID and got both nipples done. They healed more quickly than I'd anticipated, which gave me time to get my tongue done a fortnight before school started again. It was the last year before sixth-form started anyhow.
I got the vertical clit piercing for my sixteenth birthday. With hindsight, it was somethig of a forerunner for the knees - movement was very difficult for sometime after without making squeaking noises.
I should point out at this point that none of my jewellery is, or has been elaborate. I go with the basic bars and rings -none of this spangly gold crap for me. Seeing someone with a Diamonique frog hanging off their tummies makes me feel ill. Keep it simple, I've always thought.
And then I left school and my habit came out of the closet. My mum until that stage had been reasonably unconcerned about what I spent my pocket money on. Suddenly, in a fortnight her baby girl came home with newly glinting eyebrows, nose, lips and cheeks. The fact that my entire face didn't become a squishy dish of E.coli still amazes me, and is testimony to the healing powers of tea-tree oil, saltwater and pizza.
After mum's screaming fit I cooled it for a few months until she'd calmed down. Once my face was better it was off to town again for some studs in the cheeks. And then (in no particular order): Top of nose. Lower lip. Tragus .Lower tummy. Front of neck. Back of neck. Septum. Labia majora. Labia minora. Finger webbing. Tops of my nails. Back of the knees.
And here we are, at my A-level social history essay (first draft). It was originally going to be on piercing histories through the ages, but after my knees I couldn't get to the library without a wheelchair. So here I am. I can’t think of anywhere else to get done, and I've done a proper internet search. Maybe it's time to move onto tattoos.
* [back] Or so I thought. Mr Teylor (not his real name) and I got jiggy one afternoon, two weeks before my GCSE exams started. He was stunned by the amount of metal that I had under my uniform.