Tis post is not about metal.
Well. Not metal music, anyway.
Metal is a big, biiiig part of my life. It has yet to consume my entire existence, but it does a damn good job of trying, and I don't exactly fight it. However, I do have other interests, passions, and hobbies, some of which are fairly obvious and others I keep more private. One of these in particular is, for better or for worse, 100% impossible to hide (unless you happen to be blind, in which case just assume I look like a twenty-years-younger Doro and we'll go from there). I've made allusions to it on here before, usually by posting pictures that are pretty damn hard to misread. Body modification - the practice of altering one's physical form in order to achieve a desired result - has been around for far longer than the devil's music, and it forms one of the cornerstones of my life.
Depending on your experience/opinion, I am either moderately modded, heavily modded, or just plain weird-looking. I've posted photos of myself on here before, so scroll down a bit for a visual, but essentially, I am pierced, stretched, tattooed, implanted, and suspended. On top of it, I dress more or less the same every day - band shirt, boots, tight black pants. My hair is super long and kind of wild. Add my various visible mods into this particular equation, and we're looking at a lot of public scrutiny.
And it REALLY gets to me sometime. I know and have met people who are far, far more heavily modded than I am, and I can only imagine the shit they go through just because society isn't quite ready to accept those who purposefully deviate from whatever "normal" is. Yes, I am well aware that I look different. That's sort of the point (one of them, anyway). That still does not give other people the right to treat me as some sort of subhuman, alien, or sketchy character just because I've got a bit of metal shoved through the bridge of my nose or some tattoos on my neck. This isn't a unique problem - it's something the modified community deals with constantly. I'm just whining a bit because I had a string of negative experiences the other day, and bitching about it on Facebook et al just garners a chorus of "What do you expect?"
I expect to be treated like a human being, no matter how I've decided to portray myself. I'm not looking for attention - I'd look exactly the same way if all the world was blind. The way I look is an ever-evolving process, an experiment, and a very personal journey. Body mod isn't a fashion statement; hell, it can be for some, but for the majority of practitioners, and definitely for myself, it's a very spiritual, emotional act. A nose ring isn't always just a nose ring. Pain is a part of life, and learning to deal with it, accept it, and at times embrace it will only make you stronger. That massive smile on my face that shows through in the photos of my first suspension wasn't fake. Catharsis, release, adrenaline, endorphins, self-realization - a lot of positive energy can be found at the point of a needle.
The outsider status afforded those who choose to modify their bodies is similar in part with the way metal culture is regarded by the mainstream. Ostracized, held suspect, disrespected, condescended to, mistreated, mocked - both cultures have been through a lot, and it only gets easier with time. Both scenes are filled with passionate, intelligent, creative, unorthodox personalities, and it only makes sense that the twain should often meet. I've seen enough band tattoos by now to back that up, to say nothing of the legions of pierced, tattooed, dyed, or otherwise decorated metalheads I'e seen across the globe. I hang out on both side of that flimsy fence. Both body mod and metal have had a profound impact on me and my growth as a human being, and I know for a fact that I'm not alone in that.
It's just so fucking frustrating to be stared at, asked rude questions, see mothers pull their kids away from you on the subway, get dirty looks from older people, deal with your family's confusion and dislike for how you look, have strangers assume you're "kinky" or a "freak" and feel entitled to ask you about your sexual preferences, be greeted with derisive snorts or laughter when you try to explain why you are the way you are...
But, whatever. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.