Choosing Your Battles: Is Appearance One of Them?

My parents used to give me a hard time about my ‘appearance’. I repaid that unwanted advice by attending one of their dinner parties in full goth regalia, complete with spider webs drawn at the corners of my eyes. I can only imagine, now, how much restraint they and their guests showed by not commenting.

I roll my eyes at my parents now for a different  reason, though kind of really the exact same reason. When I went to college, I got my lip pierced. When I graduated and moved back to my town, my father offered me a job “if I took that damn thing out of my face”. I agreed (I know…I sold out to The Man), and got my tongue pierced the next day; so much harder to see, and I was already doing too good a job to fire me by the time he noticed it.

Fast forward 15 years (and 15 years of people giving me that “knowing look” when they spot my tongue piercing….No, I didn’t get it for THAT). I decided that because of the inherent connotation of a tongue piercing, it was not a connotation that (however wrong it was) I wanted to explain to my now-18-month-old daughter Morgan at any point and I took it out.

For 15 years, despite the obvious lack of couth and clear refusal to enter adulthood that my tongue piercing proved, I managed to weave together a pretty good life, complete with career, family, and respect! Shocking, I know.

Even more shocking still was the incredibly helpful young man at the mall yesterday who helped my hubs pick up the 8 million things that fell out of the stroller while I struggled to dig out a sippy cup; the young man with the pierced eyebrow and septum, accompanied by giant ear gauges in his lobes, who has undoubtedly thrown his life away and will never amount to anything. Hoodlum.

I decided long ago that appearance (save for barely-there clothing: that shit is just Not Happening) was not the battle I was going to choose with my kids, and not that my parents battled-they were definitely more patient than I give them credit for. Grades, boys (or girls!), chores, responsibility, respect, manners are all battles I will choose. As long as all of those, among others, are in order, pierce away-at an appropriate age, of course.

So imagine my eye roll when my parents finally noticed the missing tongue piercing and actually clapped. They would have fist-bumped if they knew what it was, I am sure, and commented on my reaching adulthood at long last.

“No worries,” I said, taking my daughter into the kitchen. “Morgan has an appointment already for her first tattoo.”

Never underestimate a former punk-goth-turned-mom. Your move, Mom and Dad 😉

Photo via No joke.


  1. Our big fight with the teenager is trying to get her to dress appropriately for the weather. T-shirts in 15 degree weather and then she complains when she’s sick.

    Our other big fight with her though, is the importance of her looking semi-respectable. It’s a lot easier to be a white person and dress goth, or in sweats and a hoodie. If she does it, she’s probably in a gang. This was my post today.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Justin! I used to have the same fight with my stepson. That battle, unfortunately, is one no one wins. It was easy to say “Fine, go! Freeze!” but then, like you said, they don’t hear THAT logic when they come down with a cold….and we have to put up with the whining! 😉

    It’s so disgusting that people can be judged by what they wear, and when racism comes into play it’s unacceptable.

    I read your post, and I can’t imagine the struggles your family is facing. The talks you have with your children are the same talks I intend to have with my children. The burden is on all parents, regardless of color, to raise children that are aware of racism and how to combat it.

    Kids are dying way too often because of people’s appearance-based ‘fear’ of them. I wish you all the best, my friend..I hope she sees the wisdom in losing this battle.

  3. I’m the straight and narrow one in my family, but my brother had all kinds of piercings and now likes to use his facial hair to express himself. I agree, it’s what’s beneath all that that matters.

    1. Exactly! Whether we do have tattoos or piercings or not, we all have the right to express ourselves how we like. Besides, being straight and narrow is not so easy either 😉

  4. Although I do not agree with getting piercings and tattoos I dont tell others what to do. Love this! Do not judge whom you have not met. By meet I mean their soul. Who they are inside and out. <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.