Five Minute Fads are Forever

Alec Killoran

Photo From Wikimedia Commons

A long time ago, before anybody had discovered why it was cool, an enterprising individual began shoving washers, nuts, bolts and all other sorts of metal objects into his ear lobes. Ear gauges can now be found in any urban or semi-urban environment. Not so long ago, enterprising pranksters went to their local hardware store and purchased the ultimate nemesis of the ear gauge- the combination lock.

Quite a few self-respecting hipsters (though never self-acknowledging) put gauges into their ears, don their non-prescription glasses and walk out into crowded areas carrying the obligatory copy of “A Clockwork Orange” or some other mildly obscure book. Suddenly, the hipster is jumped while walking past a deserted alley. A heavy weight begins tugging at the hipster’s right earlobe, which impedes his ability to pursue the assailant who is seeking safe haven in the nearest Starbucks.

What a turn of bad luck, I say. A professor of economics, though, might frame it as a lesson in the law of unintended consequences. Body alterations are not a new phenomenon in society. For longer than history can be recorded, societies have painted, poked and played around with the human body for various reasons- curiosity, religion and probably because it is fun to mess around with paint. The difference between tribal body paint and a tattoo, though, is that one is rather permanent.

Sure, it might be cool to have a tattoo now, but no matter what, there will be an unintended consequence. One of two things will happen: either you can get the tattoo removed (which hurts significantly more than getting the tattoo, and often requires multiple treatments), or you can live with it into your presumed old age. At that point, the tattoo distorts itself as your skin becomes, to put it bluntly, more wrinkled than the clothes at the bottom of my laundry pile. At that point, getting a tattoo seems like about as good of an idea as putting giant holes in my earlobes.

Of course, there are plenty of minor body alterations that do not have a permanent and irreversible effect. Almost every woman and many men wear earrings that can be taken out without causing irreparable harm to the lobe. The same goes for makeup, colored contact lenses or hair extensions. For these, what you do today probably brings you no regrets tomorrow. Dyed hair is a commitment of more than a day, but does little more than slightly affect the texture of your hair.

Sure, it’s fun to mess around with your appearance. I’ve experimented with several different looks and have gotten dolled up on special occasions. But do you really want your skin care products or your hairstyle to define you? Not only that, but massive amounts of products thrown onto your body, tons of tattoos and big holes in your ears just are not going to look that attractive in pictures 10 years down the road, if not now. Everything is better in moderation. There is no problem with making day-to-day alterations either for fun or for vanity.

But what is the point of covering yourself up with so much stuff? There is a big difference between hiding a scar or allergic outbreak and changing your fundamental appearance. I do not see why men and women go to such great lengths to alter their appearance just to look more (supposedly) beautiful. There’s a great expression: “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I can guarantee that in almost every case, the beholder will find you to be beautiful with black hair and brown eyes if they find you beautiful with golden hair and blue eyes. In my opinion, somebody is not worth your time anyways if they can only find you beautiful with accessories.