War of the Words: Alternative looks and alternative viewpoints

Opinions_body mods

Judging the appearance of nonconformists

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer

Increasingly in our society, particularly in the city, people are not afraid to stand out in a crowd. They may have interesting tastes in clothing, skin covered in ink drawings, or more holes and metal pieces in their body than usual. These people have a right to their personal tastes and should not be treated with anything less than basic human respect. With that said, it’s not unreasonable to find their appearances unpleasant or off-putting.

Regardless of the increasing commonality of those partaking in alternative images, they remain a minority of the general population. Most people don’t have green hair, crazy sleeve-length tattoos, or earlobes big enough to fit a golfball through. Let’s be honest, there’s a reason for this. It looks weird, stupid, and even ugly. I don’t care how popular stretched earlobes are; you look like a doofus who creeps out anybody over 30.

Such alternative appearances are unflattering and off-putting, particularly to the older generation. It would be great to live in a world where an appearance reveals nothing about a person and where everyone is treated based solely on their actions. That’s not the world we live in, and it will never be. If one chooses to have an image that makes someone look twice in public, they have to live with the consequences of appearing prominent, almost distracting.

It’s not necessarily an inherent prejudice that makes one judge, but simply an unfamiliarity with this type of look. The vast majority of people we interact with have hair of a natural colour and bodies free of visible metal. It won’t be for many years, if ever, that the extreme appearances are common enough to be on that same level. It’s kind of like seeing people dress in Halloween costumes all year round. Sure, most—if not all—of the people in these costumes are respectable types underneath, but it’s still bizarre to be wearing it where everyone can see you. Those who make the conscious choice to say “My body and I are unique enough to not fit in” need to accept that they will not fit in.

In many ways, people with unique appearances can be admired for their choices. They know they will not always be taken seriously or respected by everyone; and they choose to stand out anyway.

Even if we don’t all want to get extreme body modification tomorrow, perhaps deep down we’re worried about standing out too easily. Individuality is extremely important, and treating others as basic human beings even more so. Perhaps one day we’ll come to a happy medium where there is no normal and everyone has a distinct yet flattering appearance. Until then, those who stand out must accept the occasional odd looks now and then.