McPheeters: Body modification positivity only, please

Max McPheeters, Columnist

I’m tired of people commenting on others’ body modifications.

When I say “body modification,” I mean all types. Not just tattoos and piercings but also cosmetic surgery and any other way you can modify your body.

Generally, the idea of getting breast implants after breast cancer or facial reconstruction after a traumatic injury is not met with disdain. Of course we wouldn’t deny people those modifications, they’ve endured so much and should get to feel normal.

But things like tattoos, piercings and other “unnecessary” modifications are often met with negative and unwanted opinions. People think that if a body modification does not directly affect someone’s health or well-being, it shouldn’t be done. That seems to be the general attitude, at least among older generations.

I’m asking them to consider that maybe the body modifications that they judge do affect the person’s health and well-being, even if it’s not obvious. I offer a cosmetic fix I had done as an example.

When I was probably eight years old, I was spinning in circles in my living room until I got dizzy and ran into a wall face-first. I hit my right front tooth upon impact and crumpled to the ground, crying. I was so upset with myself for chipping a significant piece off the corner of my recent permanent tooth.

Up until about six months ago, I had the original piece that chipped off epoxied on. I have always been weary and self-conscious of that chip. I also had small chips on the bottom of my left front tooth, and I hated the idea of anyone looking too closely at my smile.

So what happened around six months ago? The corner piece came loose and my dentist decided it was time to reconstruct my front tooth with whatever fake material dentists use. He carefully matched the color of the fake bit with the color of my actual teeth, and he filled in not only the corner chip on my right front tooth, but also the small chips on the bottom of my left front tooth.

This completely unnecessary-for-my-physical-health procedure left my front teeth looking beautiful, with straight, unchipped bottoms. It skyrocketed my self-confidence about my teeth. I actually wanted to smile. Suddenly, I wasn’t afraid of people looking at my front teeth closely anymore—all because of a simple procedure to fill in the chipped parts of my front teeth.

I don’t think that many people would take issue with this procedure, so maybe it’s not the best example. But it showcases what I’m trying to get at: you don’t know why people get body modifications. And the only person whose opinion matters is the person getting their body modified.

Although there isn’t anything inherently wrong with asking about someone’s body modifications, they also have the right to say they don’t want to share their reasoning with you, and that’s okay. It’s also okay to not want body modifications.

But don’t shame people who do. It’s their body and their decision, not yours.

Mary McPheeters is a third-year mathematics major. Their only aspiration is to be employed after graduating.