Bring out the Funk

septumI got called n*gger nose a few times as a high school student.

My mom grew up feeling self-conscious about her nose thanks to her own family members teasing her about its flatness. She still makes comments about not liking her nose, though less frequently than she used to.

I guess we all just grow into ourselves eventually and realize what’s important.

I wanted my nose pierced when I was a teenager but when I mentioned it to my mom, she scoffed at the notion and the idea of bringing more attention to my nose. I understood.

Many years later, I recall talking to a co-worker about the nose ring I had. She said she’d had one earlier in her life but then realized she didn’t like her nose so why would she want to bring more attention to it. (We are all so critical of ourselves. It’s a bummer.)

I eventually did get my nose pierce with a tiny little stud that I was sure everyone could see from a mile away. I remember when my then boss came to see it he said, “It looks like a little fleck of glitter on your nose.”

After I got comfortable with it, I went to a silver ball stud and eventually a hoop. I always liked the hoop best but worried it was “too much,” though by whose standards, I don’t know.

That original piercing closed up a few years ago and I recently got pierced again. Nose rings are just a statement I relate to. I feel like I’m most accurately representing inner self with my nose ring and turquoise jewelry.

I have an appointment on Saturday to get my septum pierced. For me, this is really taking my interest in piercings up a notch. Not only are they not quite as mainstream (though gaining popularity as time continues), many people don’t like how they look. And it’s that discomfort I’m fighting right now. I’m imagining the next time I go up to one of my very rich, very traditional board members to shake hands and he sees I have a septum ring. Hmmm.

However, I like that septum rings have a history tied to Native Americans and people of color, generally. The Aztecs had pierced septums (with items bigger than rings) and the Nez perce tribe name translates to pierced nose. In African tribes, the septum piercing is a sign of strength. (When my husband expressed reservations over the septum piercing, I said, “You know the Aztecs used to have their septums pierced and I am part Native American. And he said, “Well then you must get it done!” Sarcastically, of course, but he has come around to the idea.)

I want to live boldly and embrace my ethnic backgrounds and not be afraid to bring attention to the parts of me I felt self conscious of for so long. And even as I do it and want to do it, I know I will feel uncomfortable going into my one-on-one meeting with the new boss and having him see I have yet ANOTHER piece of jewelry pierced into my face. On top of my huge turquoise necklace, my handful of turquoise rings, my five turquoise beaded bracelets, and my turquoise earrings. And also my shaved head. I hope I’m talented enough at my job to be permitted to look so flashy. (Happily, I talked to a friend who works in HR and she said there is no policy dictating body piercings, so I should do what I want. Also, I have seen at least one other person in my office building with the septum pierce so it’s not without precedent.)

And so it is such a minor, insignificant thing in the scheme of life to get another piercing. But it feels significant to me. Because I’m pushing forward with presenting my true self to the world. And it’s not always a comfortable thing to do.

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