Posts Tagged ‘alternative fashion’

new beginnings and piercings as self-love

Monday, June 27th, 2022

Every time someone asks about how I picked Lesley University, I have a tendency to joke that I was following my ex-girlfriend. 

On one hand: this isn’t entirely true- the school had plenty of what I was looking for, including both of the majors I wanted, a supportive and queer-friendly environment, and a campus stretching across Cambridge. On the other: I do think going into higher education knowing someone who was both my best friend (at the time) and very dear to me did a lot to boost my confidence. 

I had a built-in friend, a way to start off the first of four years with a sort of social safety net. I had someone to talk to about the hardships of starting the higher-education portion of adulthood and the anxiety of moving into a new place. I had someone to do homework with, late into the night on scratchy dorm room carpeting. I had someone to complain with about the occasionally-questionable dining hall food. I had someone, and that made the nervousness of being in a new place slowly, surely, ebb into the background. This didn’t stop either of us from making friends as we both found our places within our new community, but it got us through the first few months as we began to build up new relationships. 

Having someone around who already knew me, accepted me, and encouraged me to be myself also made it much easier to get comfortable in my own skin- both as a new college student and as a trans and queer person coming of age. Fortunately, my school had plenty of overlap between the two, with a plethora of my freshman class being in a similar literal and physical transition. We were all looking to make homes out of our bodies, and one of the most obvious ways to do that was to get a new piercing.

About a week or two into my college experience at Lesley University, my ex decided she wanted a septum ring. Eager to work towards my own accumulation of piercings and to mark the pivotal shift into freshman year on my body somehow, I decided I would tag along. So, on one fateful student-discount Tuesday, we headed down the red line into Central Square, popping into the Boston Lucky’s for walk-in appointments. After a half-hour of sitting on some really nice leather chairs and admiring the jewelry selection by the cash register, I was escorted into the piercing room. The process itself only lasted a few minutes. A gloved hand ran an alcohol wipe around the center of my nose; a needle and horseshoe-shaped piece of metal followed suit, threaded through the cartilage without much fanfare. 

Little freshman-year-Ness standing on the sidewalk, staring down the tattoo shop. Done in layered green lineart.
Little freshman-year-Ness standing on the sidewalk, staring down the tattoo shop.

An hour after our arrival, we walked out together with our matching piercings. The new hole in my nose was all I’d hoped it would be. It looked great. My parents, however, were not on the same page. 

They called later that night. “It was a waste of money,” my mom chastised. “I don’t even think I want to come visit you on parents’ weekend.” My dad echoed the sentiment, taking the time to text me that he hoped it would get torn out. They warmed up to it as soon as they realized it could be flipped up, but the rift it caused felt emblematic. 

While a little warning might’ve done wonders to prevent any familial unrest, I did what I did for me. I love my family, but part of paving my own path meant not conforming to their standards. Rather, I was setting my own. And it wasn’t just little 2018 Ness who decided to kick off their journey into higher education with a piercing. In a 2006 article from the JAMA Network, one Lester Mayers noted that 51% of university students surveyed had piercings, while 23% had tattoos; with the destigmatization among the workplace and accessibility of body modifications, the number has only gone up (Sequential Survey of Body Piercing..). In Hallie Long’s article from the DePaulia, she interviews freshly-tatted Angie Rainey, who declares that the tattoo she got in college “caught [her].. at such a transformative and new time in.. life” ( The body is a temple, and so many people have taken it upon themselves to decorate theirs to reflect burgeoning personal style. By making the decision to kick off college with a piercing, I became one of many new students who made similar choices, a way of making their bodies feel more like a refuge among the turbulence of life. Even in periods of great change, the one thing we can control is ourselves. 

Self-expression through body mods is a fairly common, healthy mechanism for self-discovery.

Another article from the Journal of Adolescent Health deems the reasoning behind piercings to be an act of identity, rather than rebellion (Contemporary College Students and Body Piercing). Between myself and the people I knew, most of us who were modifying our bodies (whether through our piercings, tattoos, or haircuts) were doing so as a way to find a sense of community within an alternative subculture. It was a statement of self, seeking out community and building our own confidence rather than actively trying to disrupt a peace within our immediate families. It was just that now, we had the freedom to find this new place for ourselves.

I started my first year of college nervous. Nervous about my relationship, about school, about the friendships I had yet to find. I was nervous about my parents, about getting homesick, about whether or not we’d see eye-to-eye. I was worried about whether or not the new hole in my body would heal properly. But even in the wake of all the fears about the future, I knew I’d be okay.

And you know what?

I am.

Glow-up of the century.

tl;dr: be nervous if you must, but know you’ll be okay.

Sometimes making the perfect change to your look is the thing that makes you feel your best and most confident, and there’s nothing quite like a fresh cut to help you feel your best… dare I say, nothing feels quite as marvelous! 

For that life-changing, new-kid-on-campus chop, treat yourself to a place that really understands the power of looking and feeling your best, like Marvelous Barber Lounge. With the help of Campus Clipper, you can get 20% off on the ultimate grooming experience- just bring your student ID and your coupon to redeem!

By Ness Curti

Ness Curti is a freshly-graduated illustrator from the Lesley College of Art and Design. A part-time bobarista and full-time New England adventurer, they hope to one day tell stories for a living, whether through art or words. They enjoy doodling, procrastinating, and saying hello to the dogs they pass on the sidewalk.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.