02 February, 2012

Beauty With An Asterisk

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those only of the author and may only coincidentally reflect those of Mystic Metals, its employees, or associates. All responses should be posted as comments here, or mailed directly to the author, A. Robert Basile, at ihatebasile@gmail.com.
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Beauty With An Asterisk

It’s nice and quiet at the bookstore today. Very few people, the music is very low, no one is getting steamed milk drinks. It’s nice. No one is really here to socialize. Everyone’s working quietly. Some are reading magazines that they have no intention of buying. Others studying whatever. Quiet is nice. There should be more of it around. Check that; some teen girls just showed up and are reading texts to each other from teen boys they know and demonstrating how “totally stupid” they are. Here’s a sigh and a mourning of the quiet. You will be missed. Also, happy Groundhog’s Day.
I had planned to write something totally different today, but it was whiney and bitchy about my shitty life and I think we’ve had enough personal blogs for a couple weeks. Sorry, Becks and Butters. Stay tuned for more bitchy and whiney blogs in the coming weeks! Isn’t that a great tease? Just makes you want to tune in to see how pitiful I can be. Yeah; I’d rather watch Dog The Bounty Hunter instead as well. Who wouldn’t? But I was forwarded a link from the beautiful Steph Vicious, and I will try to write about that now. Narration of what I’m actually doing is fascinating, isn’t it? Sips coffee, checks phone, moves chair, gives dirty look to shitty shoe on teen girl, smiles at a baby, respectfully nods to an elderly couple… 
The link lead me to an article, albeit a brief one, that was called “Why Put A Bumper Sticker On A Ferrari?” It was written by a girl (I’m intentionally not saying woman because I think it’s a funny way to be snarky and assholish) named Lisa Khoury who is an assistant news editor for The Spectrum. I bet it isn’t a pyramid like prism that makes groovy colors on the wall with sunlight. I think it’s a website or a paper or something. The article in the opinion section that Lisa Khoury wrote was about women and tattoo modification. By the clever title (which I’ve heard before, by the way) I think you can assume her position. Let’s talk about it.
Little girl Lisa Khoury writes about the beauty of women, the desire of men to ogle that beauty, and the retaining of class while maintaining and enhancing that beauty. Without tattoo modification, of course. The first paragraph is that typical, unmodified point of view about “rebellion” and 21st century and having a “point to prove.” To those in our community of modification, we’ve heard this so many times that it has no meaning anymore. It’s an ignorant point of view to assume that the basis of modification and the motivation that instigates us to modify is to be rebellious or to make some kind of ‘look at me, I’m different because of this thing I did’ kind of point. But we don’t have to get into that because when I read these types of things, I tend to not glean much from it; it’s all recycled material and very rarely does it contain an original thought. Like Lisa Khoury’s opening.
She moves into a point with which I can and do agree. That women “are -naturally- beautiful creatures.” For those of you who have read me for the last nearly four years every week (yes, I know some blogs are a day or two late), you’ll know that I share this point of view, this mantra, and I celebrate it very loudly. Save your ‘you’re a misogynist’ emails, because if you know me, you know I’m not. Now go make me a pie. (That’s a joke, kids.) Lisa Khoury continues into an interesting area at this point. She talks about doing things to augment that beauty found uniquely in women. The first awkward thing is that Lisa Khoury contends that women hold the world’s beauty. I don’t wholly disagree, but I also don’t entirely agree either. It assumes that men cannot be beautiful, which would be in a stark contradiction to the idea that I hold which is that each living human has an inherent beauty in himself, man or woman. We are all beautiful. And all means genders of all types. Lisa Khoury continues on to say, “So what's more attractive than a girl with a nice body? I'll tell you what: a girl with class. Looks may not last, but class does. And so do tattoos. An elegant woman does not vandalize the temple she has been blessed with as her body.” This is another statement with which, in parts, I can agree. The nice body thing is mindless and ignorant. You’re beautiful if you’re five hundred pounds or missing a limb or made of green goo like Slimer. We’ll get back to that in a second. I agree that class is a much more becoming quality than most others in which we as a society place stock. Class rises, but this statement by Lisa Khoury as it resolves with the association of tattoos with vandalism creates the assumption that one (particularly a woman) with tattoo modifications cannot also be classy. This statement is untrue. See also, my mother. See also, my sister. See also, millions of mothers and daughters and business owners and wives and girlfriends and partners and lovers and artists and teachers. To assume that tattoo modification erodes the class of the wearer is careless and uneducated.
Lisa Khoury submits that if a woman is unhappy with her aesthetic (which clearly is why we all modify), then her options are as follows: “She goes to the gym. She dresses it up in lavish, fun, trendy clothes, enjoying trips to the mall with her girlfriends. She accentuates her legs with high heels. She gets her nails done. She enjoys the finer things in life, all with the body she was blessed with. But marking it up with ink? That's just not necessary.” This is the statement, at this point in the article, with which I take the most umbrage. This speaks very simply to me this idea: As introduced in the exposition, which we all learned in English class ought to present a thesis for the entire work, Lisa Khoury takes a position against the idea that some women chose to be “cutting edge,” yet the alternative presented is to dress up in “trendy clothes” and go to the mall and get your fingernails painted. Yes, women like things like clothes and malls and fingernail paint and high heels. But couldn’t one argue that submitting to stereotypes of what a group ought to be or how that group ought to behave stunts that group from maturing and evolving into something else away from those stereotypes? It’s like saying (follow me on this one) that since I’m Italian, I shouldn’t be modified because my aesthetic options ought to be reserved for pin striped suits, slimy mustaches and VO5 Hot Oil in my hair. Oh memories of having my grandmother babysit me…
The last several paragraphs of this Lisa Khoury jaunt attempt to facilitate her point that tattoos are poo on lady types and that a woman’s time ought to be budgeted more for “effort into a gym membership, or yoga classes, or new clothes, or experimenting with different hairstyles if you're craving something new with your body, not a tattoo.” Yes, Lisa Khoury; you’re right. Women ought to be worried about their aesthetic in the yoga class and the gym and the clothing store and the salon but in no way ought a woman enhance her aesthetic by way of the beautiful art we call tattoo modification in the tattoo shop. That would just be silly.
This last bit, which is actually in the middle of her cute little rant, has the most venom to me. And yes, Lisa Khoury; I know you didn’t intend on the venom. Such are the results of ignorance I suppose. Anyway, here’s the quote: “But at the end of the day, are you really a happier person? Has this tattoo, for instance, caused you to learn something new about yourself? Has it challenged you? Has it led you to self-growth? Nothing comes out of getting a tattoo.” If I sigh any more I’m going to pass out. Like when you were little and you’d hold your breath until you passed out. Yes, Lisa Khoury; there are those of us who garner happiness from tattoo modification. Yes, it has challenged some of us in ways that you seem to be unable to see. Yes, we have grown in ways such as comfort and aesthetic peace, like your up-do or high heels or mall shopping with the gals does for you. Many things come from modification. My modifications have helped me deal with a robbed sense of self that is sitting in a biohazard can somewhere in Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Using the body to help the brain? Whaa? Yeah, that’s right, Lisa Khoury. Tattoo and piercing modifications are a far cry from electroshock therapy or lobotomies. My modifications have given me my body back. After years and years and years of having men in white coats and rubber gloves touch your private parts and run long and frightening needles into your spine, a change in hairdo or a pair of high heels aren’t going to cut it. Having your body taken away from you is a dreadful and lonely happening. How do you reclaim it? Spending money at the mall with your lady friends, wooing and guffawing and swinging shopping bags around like a whirling dervish while eyeing every penis wielding human type in the place and assuming that he’s looking at you because you just came from yoga or the gym and you think you’re looking fine doesn’t really sound like a reclaiming celebration of your beauty to me. It sounds like a costume party. It sounds like making a masquerade of life and hiding behind what Cosmopolitan says to do and not what your womanhood is telling you to do to be more comfortable and to feel like the unique and beautiful woman you are.
Yes, Lisa Khoury; women are the epitome of beauty, not to preclude men from any beauty. And if a woman is to fully embrace her own unique beauty, then she ought to pursue the aesthetic that best befits her. We all know, Lisa Khoury, that you have this Carrie Bradshaw thing going on, and that’s very cute; but if you want a society of women who are only striving for the aesthetic beauty that has been laid by Sex And The City, then you are castrating a variety of beauty that breeds a social acceptance for the different and the unique and the alternative point of view toward what beauty is and what beauty can be. You want a society of women in high heels and fingernail paint and hairdos who are clothes shopping after a good stretch at yoga so that you can flaunt around for the attention of men? That’s awesome. Go do that. But if I want to live in the reality of Jersey Shore or Baseball Wives or Housewives of Wherever, I’ll use Wonka’s TV devise to put me in that imaginary reality. That sounds like a horrible way to live, Lisa Khoury. I like my reality with variety and points of view and celebration of beauty in all ways, be it make up and shoes or tattoo modification or nudists or suspension or implants or natural girls. Aren’t we supposed to celebrate beauty and not beauty with an asterisk? Stay beautiful, kids. 
Let Lisa Khoury know what you think, kids:

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  1. Wow, that was beautifully written, thoughtful, and inspiring! Thank you for standing up to Lisa Khoury with such polished prose and class. I agree with Steph Vicious...bravo, bravo!!

  2. PS - you definitely earned a new subscribing reader. =)

  3. Wonderful. Nothing says womanhood like shopping at the mall and getting manicures. Um I think that last time I did that I was 16- far from a woman. This chick shouldn't speak on what a "woman with class" is if she isn't one herself.

  4. I think you missed the most disturbing part... She says (and I'm paraphrasing) it will be difficult when you're trying to tell your grandkids about morals and values with angel wings on your back.

    I'm sorry I was not aware that my tattoos and piercing made me immoral.

    Great rebuttal though :)