Introduction: The goal of this paper is not do draw comparisons between my Japanese culture and how it differs from American culture. I have tried to avoid ethnocentrism, which has resulted in several rewrites.
My American friends seem to feel that many types of body art are acceptable. This idea seems to start at an early age. Infants are taken to have their ears pierced by their parents. Then, as children grow, they begin to be influenced by this culture. For girls, there is pressure to have ears pierced more than one time. For boys, there is often peer pressure to have the left ear pierced at least once and to wear a 'manly' earring.
Some Americans stick to having their earlobes pierced, but the boundaries of acceptable behavior are constantly being pushed. For many, there is a temptation to go further. Rather than only piecing the earlobe, some people choose to have multiple piercings around the pinna -- the visible part of the ear or outer ear. In fact, there is a program on television in which a middle aged actress who plays the part of an attorney in a law firm has her ear pierced so many times it is hard to count how many earrings she wears.
There are those people who prefer to defy convention by having other parts of their body pierced. For example, some individuals make bold statements about their individuality by having their eyebrows, or nose or cheek or lips or tongues pierced. Again, the number of times these areas are pierced is another aspect of differentiating oneself from society, or more specifically, what society considers normal.
Others people take body piercing much further. As Janet Jackson reminded Americans during the most recent Super Bowl half-time show, people pierce other body parts. Men and women choose to have their nipples pierced. Some even have their sexual organs pierced in order to add ornamental jewelry to these areas.
Changing one's hair color is another form of body art...