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“I have no idea what that thing is. It looks like someone shoved King George's crown up his butt and it came out of his face. Shoot it, Sergeant! SHOOT IT NOW!!!”
Body piercing is a form of
Münchausen syndrome borderline personality disorder attention mongering body modification rumored to be closely associated with turophilia (an intense love of cheese). Those inflicted with this disorder drawn to this art form generally love cheese so much that they cannot resist the urge to transform their bodies into a large chunk of Swiss. Several theories exist that attempt to explain the phenomenon, but none has ever fully achieved acceptance among scholars.
History of body piercing
Body piercing has only recently become a subject of serious scholarly research by archaeologists, who have been hampered in their efforts by a sparsity of primary sources. From the beginning of time, anyone who could write thought that writing about body piercing would be a waste of perfectly good ink. (Fortunately, the writing of this article required no actual ink.) However, some few records do exist about nose rings and ear stretching.
Origins of nose piercing
According to early Ethiopian texts, the Queen of Sheba was the first person to ever sport a nose jewel. She was suffering from a stuffed-up head cold and her quack of a physician decided that he could open the air passage by drilling a new hole in her nose. Unfortunately for him, he hadn't perfected the technique yet, and he didn't live long enough to ever get the chance. Queen Sheba, however, was left with an extra snot-oozing orifice in her face, and decided to fill it with a lovely gold plug (which looked much better than the alternative.) After talking to some of her more competent advisers, they counseled her to visit King Solomon to ask what to do about getting the stupid thing fixed. (See 2 Kings:10 in the Bible.) Solomon used his great wisdom (and one of his royal plastic surgeons) to fix the hole. However, when Sheba returned to Ethiopia, she was met by, in her words, "a bunch of stupid rich kids with snot-covered gold orbs hanging out of their noses." Despite a decree banishing this burgeoning phlegm-gem, the craze spread faster than the decree, and Sheba simply didn't have enough executioners to kill all of the offenders. Finally, she remanded the order and decided to "let them look like retards if they want to."
Origins of ear stretching
Around 350 BC, the Kingdom of Meroe was attacked and sacked by the Kingdom of Aksum. The men were all marched to the salt mines, and the women were made into domestic servants. The Askumi masters decided that the Meroe slaves just weren't pulling their weight (six buckets in each hand and three stacked on their heads just wasn't good enough) so they forced the slaves to stretch their lips and ears as handy hanging spots for a couple more buckets per trip. They found that the bigger the stretch, the more buckets that a slave could carry and consequently, the more money the slave was worth. 1000 years later when the slaves finally got a little more freedom, the ones with the biggest flops hanging down, decided that because they were worth more, they must be better, and they became the upper class. Everyone decided that the flopps was the topps, and this absolutely spectacular cultural norm came into being.
Modern trends in piercing
At the early part of the 20th century, piercing of any body part was uncommon in the West. However, after World War II, it began gathering steam among the gay male subculture as a means of group identification. Gay men were tired of having their noses broken after hitting on straight Marines and began to wear an earring in their right ear as a way of saying Please pinch my butt, you manly hunk of a man. In the 1970s, piercing began to expand, as the punk movement embraced it, featuring nontraditional adornment such as safety pins, fishing hooks, live hookworms, tire irons, and the occasional Ford Edsel. Some trend setters began popularizing it as a form of modern primitivism, with the tag line, It's far-out groovy to look like a neanderthal. By the year 2000, this catch phrase had morphed to Ogg gouge self. Wear shiny bling bling. Self look good.
In the 1990s, body piercing became more widespread. With growing availability and access to garage-based sadistic quacks posing as piercing artists, piercings of the navel, nose, eyebrows, lips, tongue, nipples, genitals, lower bowel, Achilles tendon, upper cerebellum, left ventricle, bladder, spinal column, and jugular vein became common place. In 1993, a navel piercing was displayed in MTV Video Music Awards' Music Video of the Year, Cryin', which inspired a plethora of young female fans to follow suit. Alicia Silverstone, who was depicted with the navel piercing in the video, was surprised at the reaction.
"I can't believe that so many girls haven't got a brain in their head.", said Silverstone. "I thought the idea was stupid. I only did it because Aerosmith paid me $1.35 million. Then all these kids see it and go running off a cliff like a bunch of lemmings. This country is really in trouble if all our kids are this brain-dead."
Silverstone allegedly later revised her alleged comments after an alleged gentleman allegedly identified as "Guido", allegedly employed by the alleged jewelry maker Bodystuds, allegedly threatened to break both of her alleged legs.
The process of body piercing
Before reading this, the body piercing industry would like you to know that you should never try body piercing at home because it
deprives them of their cash could be dangerous to your health.
The tools of body piercing are specialized for that purpose. These specialized tools include awls, sharpened screwdrivers, sharp sticks, used razor blades, chisels, a handy pen, or any other sharp thing laying around. The process of body piercing is generally similar to the following.
When first arriving a parlor, it probably will look similar to an abandoned warehouse or someone's garage, but this is only a cover to fool the tax collectors. Inside is an old rotting table, and conditions that look totally unsanitary, but this is all part of the cover. Before you lay on the table, the piercing artist will have you undress completely. When you lay on the table it might seem like you are being molested, but the piercing artist is simply checking your entire body for possible health issues that could affect your piercing. This will include an exam of all body cavities. This exam my last for hours and might need to be performed by several different people to ensure your safety. A video tape of this exam is necessary for quality assurance, training, and your protection. It is easiest if you simply relax and let them
have their way with you perform their job professionally. Rest assured that if a similar-looking video surfaces on the Internet later, that this is merely coincidence.
After the exam, the piercing begins, no numbing agent is required because anyone getting a piercing is a tough cookie and can handle a little pain. Next the piercing artist will use a specialized tool depending on the type of piercing being done. It might look like a pen, a piece of sharpened steel from an auto accident, a pointy stick, a rusty saw blade, or something the artist pulled out of the festering cut on his foot. Despite its looks, rest assured that the piercing artist has had thousands of hours of training and is using the best tool for the task at hand. The actual cutting is almost always very quick, usually lasting less than 45 minutes. Do not be alarmed if the artist sucks the blood directly from your cut. This has been found to be the most sanitary and cost effective form of suction. If the artist makes several cuts, it is probably because his parlor is running a 5 for 1 special, and he wants you to get your complete value. Jewelry for each cut might be an additional purchase, but the additional piercings will usually be free of charge.
When the piercing is complete, the artist will place your pre-selected jewelry in the new hole(s). Because you are so intelligent, he will probably assume that you know how to take care of the wound, and won't insult your intelligence by explaining it to you again.
Following the piercing, the piercing artist will do the post-exam to ensure that your health has not been compromised in any way. This might include tests to ensure your pain reflexes, gag reflexes, and sexual functions are all normal. Again, for your safety, this might be done several times by many different professionals. Additional daily health exams might be included at little or no cost to you until the piercing has completely healed. Only the piercing artist is qualified to tell you if your wound is completely healed. This could take several months, or in the case of attractive women, up to five years.
Medical risks of body piercing
Body piercing is an invasive procedure with risks. In a 2005 survey done in England, of 10,503 persons over the age of 16, complications, including nasty staphylococcus aureus infections that decimated 91.4% of the victim's skin, were reported in 31% of piercings, with professional help or amputations being necessary in 15.2%. The 142 deaths were deemed insignificant. Children under 16 don't really matter to the English.
Some risks of note include:
- Allergic reaction to the metal in the piercing jewellery, particularly nickel. This however is a minimal risk because after the piercing and jewelry purchase, few respondents had any nickels left.
- Bacterial or viral infection from streptococcus (the same bacteria used to make Swiss cheese) staphylococcus, pseudomonas, and mad cow disease. Reports at the 16th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in 2006 indicated that between 10–20% of piercings result in bacterial infection and that 95% of them result in ugliness. The Mayo Clinic estimates 100%. Risk of infection is greatest among those with congenital heart disease, which was discovered when the only senior citizen to ever get a body piercing died on the table. Other infections may include hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I , J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z as well as athletes scrotum. While rare, infection due to piercing of the tongue can be fatal. However, it usually only results in having the tongue removed, which is considered an improvement in most cases.
- Excess scar tissue. These scars include those resulting from the piercing, and those resulting from "misunderstandings" with the parents after the fact.
- Possibility of sexual abuse by piercing studio employees who believe that women with piercings are all "easy."
- Dental trauma, including recession of the gums, dental fracture, and a loss of all teeth. This adverse effect is shown in studies to affect 19% to 68% of subjects with lip or intra-oral ornaments. However, the same studies concluded that as soon as Alicia Silverstone wears dentures in an Aerosmith video, dentures will be cool too. In related news, Polident Dentu-Cream stock just went up.
Contemporary body piercing studios generally take numerous precautions to protect the health of the person being pierced and the piercer. Each piercing artist wears a talisman to ward off evil spirits. Piercers are also expected to sanitize the location to be pierced as well as their hands. However, because iodine is often too expensive, several piercing parlors have opted for a similarly colored solution made from vanilla extract and beef gravy. Piercing artists also generally wear gloves to protect themselves and their clients. Quite frequently, these gloves are changed at least every third day.
In addition, the Association of Professional Piercers recommends classes in First aid as part of professional training for piercing artists. Generally this training is only needed a few times a week in any particular parlor.
The healing process and body piercing aftercare
The aftercare process for body piercing has evolved gradually through practice. A reputable piercing studio should provide clients with written and verbal aftercare instructions, as is mandated by law in some US states, but as previously mentioned, they will never insult your intelligence by telling you things you should already know. They will, however, schedule several post-procedure appointments to ensure that your wound is not festering abnormally. For example, nipple piercings for females must be examined by the piercing artist two to three times per day. Hands-on inspection is almost always needed. Because a male hand is usually larger, the inspection goes more quickly when done by males, therefore it is recommended that a male handle these inspections.
The healing process of piercings is broken down into three stages:
- The inflammatory phase, during which the wound is open. Bleeding, inflammation, and unbearable pain are all to be expected.
- The growth or proliferative phase, during which the body produces antibodies in a useless attempt to fight the growing infections. This phase may last weeks, months, or longer than a year before resulting in an early death.
- The maturation or remodeling phase, during which the dead body rots, leaving only a mature skeleton. This stage is often accompanied by employees from piercing studios and jewelry makers dropping in to reclaim unneeded studs and jewelry.
During the healing process, it is normal for a white or slightly yellow discharge called sebum to be noticeable on the jewelery. This comes from the sebaceous glands of whomever previously wore the jewelry. A small amount of pus might also be present. However this only occurs during the initial phase, after which it will be replaced with your own pus. While sebum and pus are sometimes difficult to distinguish, sebum is "more solid and cheese-like and has a distinctive rotten odor", according to The Piercing Bible. This odor has been known to counteract and entirely nullify human pheromones.
Depending on the location of the piercing, it can take anywhere from one to three months for a piercing to heal. Piercings on the genitals are reported to heal the quickest. Healing usually starts immediately following amputation.
Probability of becoming a piercing junkie
A team of unemployed and unfunded scientists got together and decided to do some pro bono work to pad their resumes. This group studied trends and risk factors associated with becoming a piercing junkie. After months of watching the Discovery Channel, MTV, and News of the Weird, they derived the following formula to determine the likelihood of a newborn babe becoming a metal detector explosion waiting to happen. This is the result: