Carly Thaw, George Washington High School
You've seen him before: the punk boy with coal black hair and a piercing through his lip. There's a hole in his earlobe the size of a quarter, the result of using a gauge to stretch the original site of an ear piercing. Perhaps he has an eyebrow piercing, too, or maybe, he has a tribal tattoo on his neck.
Immediately, without ever talking to him, you're both embarrassed by the way he presents himself and also a little repulsed. He's clearly some sort of teenage rebel, or maybe he's trying to get attention. But the honest answer? He looks the way he does because that's what makes him comfortable.
Surely you've heard the phrase "don't judge a book by its cover." That's what you've just done here, though.
When we look at someone who isn't the representation of beauty that we see on magazine covers, we immediately judge them without even realizing we're doing it. Maybe the person is overweight, maybe their looks aren't aesthetically pleasing to you, or maybe they have body modifications like the gentleman mentioned above. They're different and that means they don't fit society's idea of "normal," which in turn means they're not someone you want to be around.
But it just so happens that the punk you're repulsed by volunteers at a local soup kitchen on the weekends. The pink-haired girl with the nose ring is a devout Christian. The tattooed biker is a reliable and kind friend. Meanwhile, the handsome, clean-cut neighbor likes to vandalize school property.
A person's outward appearance does not display his or her inner appearance. You don't have to look menacing to be menacing. And if people want to modify their bodies, so be it. It's their choice.
Also, body modification isn't limited tattoos or piercing, though that's what's most frequently thought of. Guys, are your circumcised? If so, congratulations, your body has been modified! Girls, would you consider breast augmentation? Surprise, you'd be modifying your body! Like to dye your hair, even if it's a normal color like blond? Three guesses as to what you're doing.
But, you ask, what drives people to stretch out their earlobes, get an unconventional piercing or the like. Why do they do it?
Well, why not? The only thing in the world that is truly yours is your body. You can do what you want to it. Who are we to tell people otherwise? Who are we to say that someone has gone too far when he or she is literally covered from head to toe with tattoos?
Body modification is just a way for people to look how they wish to look. It's the most obvious way for them to express themselves. Even if their decision simply boils down to "I thought this would look cool," it's their decision, and they shouldn't be judged just by how they look because of it.