well i am very concerned about this survey and what effect it is going to have on the mainstream.... for many year we (modded peeps) have been trying to be accepted in the mainstream, to get better jobs to get better pay to get better services and not be looked down on for our mods...i fear if this book comes out it is going to hurt a lot in our culture/community of body modification....it will set back our struggle for acceptance a century at least....and just what is heavily modified? i think that is in the eye of the beholder/viewer...even tho i am an older educated woman who is 2/3 covered in ink and over 19 piercings...i do not think of myself as "heavily" modified....i never did self harm to my knowledge...and dont look at tattooing or modifyng my body as self harm.... very concerned about the outcome of this book...sure you may help a few women with this book but overALL i think you will be doing a disservice to the community of body modifications...
Please read my lengthy response after the cut, and please respond with your own thought. I am so serious about this project, and I want it to be right. Any help and constructive criticism is welcomed. The only hurtful things that have been said to me have included name-calling and stuff like that, but these things are easily ignored. I will never ignore conscientious criticism
Dear [data embargo],
You are misinterpreting my book, and please let me explain As a heavily modified person, I want to be accepted as someone who is courageous and beautiful. The book will be forwarding the idea that people who choose to modify are strong, full of courage, able to overcome past emotional pain, willing to show their uniqueness to the world, and are, overall, interesting, intelligent, and approachable people.
The whole concept of the book focuses on beauty.
I understand your concern. I will not publish a book that mades modded people look bad or weak -- that woould be like self-injury to myself, and worst of all, it would be a lie. I want to CELEBRATE us. We are strong people, making choices to be different that are choices based on, as I said before, courage and strength of will. We are special. We should celebrate and be celebrated for our strength.
Enough people have emailed me with your very concern to make me very, very sensitive about this issue. I want to ASSURE you that the book will be NOTHING like you are afraid of. NOT AT ALL. My tattoos help me through the day. They make me happy. They are a signal to myself that I can survive (I have survived emotional trauma that would send many to the institution), that I am beautiful, that I am strong, that I have overcome and will overcome, and that being ME is good -- it's ok not to just be part of the herd.
For me, to find a way to express my pain other than self-injury has been miraculous. The people who have filled out the survey feel the same way, even if tattooing/piercing/scarification has not entirely stopped their self-injury, it has slowed it, and it has also given them a venue through which they feel strong and beautiful. They all say that their mods make them feel strong in the face of emotional or physical pain.
That said, the survey as it stands is very poorly written. The posting of it here was a mechanism for me to find out how to change it. I will change it DRAMATICALLY. It will be much less biased, with no leading questions. Professionals in surveying have offered to help me, as well as other people who are good at this type of thing. They recognize the importance of this project, and they argue that if I don't do it right, then I'll be doing more harm than good. I would hate myself if the book turned out that way. But, on the other hand, this book NEEDS to be written. I am tired of books about tattooed women as "freaks." No one has done research to show that tattooed women are pillars of strength; they choose to modify for very good reasons, and the modifications have extremely positive effects on their self-confidence, their future choices in life, and their esteem. That's what I want to forward. I want to celebrate!!!!
I hope I am explaining myself well here. This book will NEVER be sent to publication unless it is approved by a wide variety of modded readers. I am working with several famous photographers and artists, and tattooed women, adn they will also make sure that the book ethically and correctly represents the BEAUTY of people like us. I'm proud to be a modded person, because I have the strength to be myself in the face of, for me, a terrible past. I have overcome that past. My tattoos of beautiful women (my tattoos are almmost entire reproductions of Alphonse Mucha's paintings of women) make me remember that I, too, am a beautiful woman. My tattoos for my deceased relatives make me remember to make them proud by my actions. Just looking at them gives me strength in times of desperation.
So, the goals of the book are as follows:
1. To inspire women who are self injurers to change their injuring pattern to one of beauty. All of my survey answerers were ashamed of their scars. Tattoos are beautiful, and they my surveyors wrote that once they got tattooed/pierced/scarred, they felt like better people...much prouder of their skin than they had ever been in their lives. Before, their skin was shameful to them. Now, their skin is a source of pride and suvival.
2. To celebrate tattooed woman as women of great strength and emotional fortitude -- to have them tell their stories, in their own words, of why they modify, and how those modificatins have had an effect on their life.3. To help end the prejudice of "vanilla" people against the heavily tattooed. I was fired from a professorial position because of my tattoos. The prejuduce against us is horrible; and if others can see our modifications as signs/texts of strength, survival, beauty, and pride, then I think this book will have an enormously good impact on the lives of modified people.
4. To forge a community of tattooed women so taht they understand they are not alone in the reasons they choose to tattoo. To give them pride in their choice -- a choice that comes from emotional wells of strength that many other people just don't have. I'm PROUD of them. They should be proud of themselves.
If you want to read drafts or an advanced copy of the book, or help read all along the process, I both encourage and invite you to do so. I will not write this book unless it is overall a service to the modded community. I can write such a book.
There IS a connectin between SI and tattoos among women. It is just true. But how we present that connection is what is the most important and sensitive thing for us to work on. I invite your help, and in fact I need it.
I also promise you that the survey as it is will be totallytrashed. None of the data I gathered from it will be used in the book. Instead, it will be used to construct a much less leading survey. I am enlisting the help of professionals in qualitative research. I will not officially begin to collect data until I have a survey that is not biased.
Now, have I allayed your fears at all? I am very open-minded, and I hope you see that. And most of all, I do not want to do anything that will hurt my community. This book is not about me being published. I could care less about that. But I do have the resources to publish this book because of my position in the academy. I could make a difference -- that is, WE could all make a difference in both individuals and entire communities about how modified people are viewed. This publication is not about my ego -- I'd happily have someone e4lse'se name as author. It is much mroe about my sense that this type of book needs to be published, that now is the time for such a book to be published (the best time, strike while the iron is hot), and that the publication of such a book could be incredibly positive for both the modified community, people who currently self-injure, and people who are either prejudiced or confused about why we choose to modify out bodies.
Please respond with your thoughts. I'm x-posting this to as many of the communities I posted the surveys in as I can remember.
Thank you, thank you ALL, for helping me to make this book/project a better, more ethical piece of work. And if anyone who reads this wants to be a reader for me of drafts, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.