Commentary: Respect one another’s individuality

“Can you hear better?”

Jacob Parker

Can I get an “Amen?”

I have stretched ear lobes, also known as having gauges or plugs. I don’t really think it matters what you call it, arguing over semantics tends to end up pretentious. Either way, the 5/8 inch hole in my ears not only enhances my appearance, but ensures that, at least once a week, I’m asked some form of the question, “did that hurt?”

It’s a hole in my ear that’s the better part of an inch in circumference. I quickly review the months-long process in my mind, and how it began with the tiny pinch of an ear piercing. I think about how I essentially just kept shoving bigger things into my ears until they stretched to my desired size. They’re gaping holes in my lobes that were stretched little by little, bit by bit— of course it hurt sometimes. If there had been an option to numb them and use a giant, hand-held hole-puncher, then yeah, I would’ve jumped on that train. 

For those who ask “Why would you do something like that to your poor ears?” with their face aghast and brows furrowed, I have a little less patience. First of all, my ears are nowhere near poor— they are adorned with tangible beauty and that makes a rich life for a simple pair of ears. Second, they’ve never done anything specifically to warrant pity nor pain because, you know, they’re ears. And lastly, I did it because I wanted to. 

That answer never seems to satisfy anyone in any context. “Why is that girl wearing sneakers with a skirt?” “Why does that guy have a tattoo on his neck?” Well, it’s probably because they felt like it. Why else does anyone do anything? 

People like to look good. Everybody wants to feel comfortable and confident in the way they look at themselves. Whether it’s when they’re dressed to walk out of the house, or when they’re standing nude in the mirror for shameless personal admiration, people deserve to feel comfortable in their skin.

Tattoos and piercings are so common in society as an expression of oneself that it’s almost appalling it still isn’t seen as the norm. Many career center advertisements advise covering up tattoos before interviews and restyling hair. It’s almost as if people believe individuality must be squashed in order to fit the more basic, standard stereotype of what success is apparently supposed to look like.

I’ve been advised/questioned several times about how I present myself and whether or not I feel comfortable entering the job market with physical attributes (i.e. my visible tattoos or the overt jewelry in my ears). Those questions never make me nervous.

At the risk of sounding vain or flippant, I know I’m hot. I know the features I’ve chosen to accent on my body contribute to who I am as a whole, and I feel confident that my talent speaks more than my appearance. I’m also comforted knowing I’ll never choose a job that will require me to hold back on certain aspects of my being.

Bodies are works of art accented by an unending supply of materials and illustrations. Respect each individual’s decision to present themselves as they wish, and don’t judge if it differs from your own style. Their flow ain’t your flow, but they know how they’re flown’. If you’re saying something looks off-beat, the problem isn’t them, it’s you. Do your thang.