Saturday, November 10, 2012

Getting A Big Head



More than any other animal, humans expend a lot of effort on self-decoration. People paint themselves, drill themselves, hang hardware off themselves, and scar themselves up, and they've been doing it for thousands of years.

When I was a kid, we were familiar with the practice of inserting plates in the earlobes, because that was depicted in the second-most-interesting pictures in the National Geographic magazines that lived in our father's underwear drawers. We would never have believed it if you told us that young American men in 2012 would routinely platter their own ears. Sure! Right after they put a man on the moon!

So it's interesting to speculate on what our platter-headed friends'  own children will be doing to horrify their parents in fifteen years, and what their children will develop in forty. Fundamentally, nothing changes. I cheer myself up by imagining grumpy grownups in 2050 thumping and squeaking as they shake their small-mammal hair extensions, while their kids display the latest in ornamental groin herniation.

Sarah Viernum's spectacular arm salamander
I did have my earlobes drilled at the mall in 1967, but the holes have since slammed shut. Mostly I have too much appreciation for the vagaries of fashion to go for something permanent, like a tattoo. The danger is that the things you think are cool when you're sixteen and when you're thirty-six are rarely the same things. Oddly enough, I'd have fared all right with that. I would have had a salamander inked onto myself somewhere, and I'd still like it. But I have enough affection for salamanders and their comfort that I would have felt compelled to place my salamander somewhere near a damp crevice, and some people might find that off-putting.

The problem now is that people are having trouble coming up with something new. Or they were, before the advent of the Bagel Head. Some Japanese are now clamoring for the look, which approximates the look of a bagel implanted in the skin just above the eyes. Presumably the effect is subliminal. "I wonder what that woman is like first thing in the morning," the prospective suitor finds himself thinking, "with anchovies and a schmear."

One wonders how these cosmetic breakthroughs occur. In this case, I imagine a nurse tripped over something on his way to set someone up for hydration, and when he came to, he was appalled to discover his syringe buried in the patient's forehead, which was quickly filling up to Tyra Banks proportions. In his horror he tried to mash the swelling down with his thumb and inadvertently created the bagel, and everyone remarked on how yummy the patient looked.

The bagel head is not permanent. After about 24 hours, the saline injection is reabsorbed and the forehead snaps back, returning the recipient to default condition with a tendency to retain water. The practice is still in its infancy, however, and  it is unknown what the effects of repeat bageling might be. It seems reasonable to expect that the serial bageler might develop a little fleshy awning over the bridge of the nose, like a turkey snood, and that's not ideal. But when fashion shuts the front door, it opens a window. Bring on the tiny-nipple graft, and we're right back in business.

91 comments:

  1. Centuries from now archeologists will still be scratching their heads over 20th/21st Century Japanese pop culture. Pet rocks. Bagel heads. Masturbation parlors. Good grief.

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    1. You're going to make me google "masturbation parlors," and for that I do not thank you. I will be careful not to google "images."

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  2. The thing about tattoos -they're permanent and few people rarely wear the same shoes or shirts forever, and that's especially true for those wearing trendy fashion. I guess that's why Lydia the tattooed lady always wants more and ends up looking like a walking comic book. Turn a page, move an arm, and there's more cartoons to see.

    Apparently it doesn't matter to the tattooed teen that the glorious dragon that winds itself stem to stern will eventually blur, looking more blob-like than Lord of the Rings.

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    1. Many is the sprightly butt butterfly that has metamorphosed into ass draperies.

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  3. I think that the movie, The Hunger Games, missed an opportunity on this. We will always stretch, pull, slice, raise, tuck or ink ourselves in a search for a more perfect image.

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    1. I'm going to settle for making a blog and occasionally putting pictures of my taut younger self in it.

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  4. There is a guy who comes into my local coffee shop with earlobes that look just like that first picture. I too wonder what weird fashion will develop in the future. It's very entertaining! :-)

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    1. DJan, my daughter and I once saw a guy like that, with earlobes stretched so large he'd embedded a styrofoam coffee cup in each! We still haven't fully recovered.

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    2. At least the styrofoam looks comfy. Someone tell me: what keeps the platters in? Tension? Or are they grooved like a train wheel?

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    3. Answer #2 is correct: "grooved like a train wheel" - assuming they are still the same, some three years later. Older daughter and boyfriend both had "plugs" (the diminutive of "platter"), and even the younger daughter joined in later. If I'm not mistaken, they have all since let their lobes stretch BACK to relatively normal - and I am stunned that a lobe-hole as large as 1/2-inch can "close up"... they all have tattoos now.

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  5. Fortunately, I am a coward when it comes to inflicting pain on myself. I've only ever wanted a tattoo though, but even getting that done makes me cringe. As did the statement from a physical therapist who had worked with the elderly and who told me that she had wanted a tattoo until she saw what they looked like 50 or 60 years down the road.

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  6. The only tattoo I would favour is the one becoming more and more popular amongst my age group.

    In bold print on the chest:

    "Do not resuscitate".

    XO
    WWW

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  7. Seriously, a masturbation parlour? Beats me.

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    1. Gives new meaning to "I'm turning Japanese."

      I really think so.

      I won't touch, "Getting a Big Head."

      Seriously, I won't!

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    2. I had to bail a few comments out of my spam folder, where they were quarantined because of the title of this piece.

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    3. And Col, if I'm getting a big head, it's because that earworm you just gave me can't get out!

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  8. In general, vanity -- demonstrated by self-decoration -- is a survival trait.

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    1. Species survival, or individual? I'd have done so much more if I hadn't been lazy. Even the earrings were too much trouble after a while. And hey: never had any kids. I think you're right.

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  9. In the first half of the last century, nice girls didn't wear makeup. Then the depression hit, and maybe you could treat yourself to a tube of lipstick that gave you the appearance of health and charm, even if you were wearing a feedsack for petticoat. Make-up improved until 16 year-olds were painting on foundation, rouge, and black mascara like floozies. Then, in the last half of the last century, I remember my friends' mothers being horrified when their hippie daughters got their ears pierced. "Only tramps and gypsies do that!" After a while, those very mothers were getting their own ears pierced. What else can a kid to to appall a parent? Tattoos! I remember watching my friends' kids coming home with pictures of Mickey Mouse flipping the bird on a shoulder, or the classic butterfly across the kidneys. "Oh no! How horrifying. Only sailors and bikers get tattoos." Now my friends are getting very pretty bracelets and flowers embroidered into their skin. The grandchildren now have to horrify their tattooed parents. One young lady I know came home with artfully applied slices on the back of her calves to look like stocking seams when they scar up. I think the next step may be when the children of the scarified generation go all uptight and moral, foreswear makeup or embellishment of any kind and sneer at their decadent ancestors. Either that, or the hand basket we are riding in will explode, and anyone who survives will too busy finding food and shelter to embellish themselves.

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    1. I think you're right. There's always a pure generation in there to space out the madness and start the clock again. I wonder what I might have done if I were a teenager now. I'm pretty sure I would have had an interesting dye job, but I don't know what else.

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  10. It is a matter of taste. But, unfortunately, it is also a matter of employment.. Some of the extreme expressions of art young people choose to display may eventually prevent them from obtaining a job they desire as an adult.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. No, probably it will prevent them from obtaining the job YOU'D desire as an adult.

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  11. I'm a total wimp. It took me until I was 40 to get my ears pierced and that was it. It's the body piercings that make me cringe. Don't all these rings in sensitive place hurt and catch on things?

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    1. Yes they do. They totally do. They can go years catching them on things before it occurs to them that this isn't worth it. And I only had the ears done. Every time I flipped my hair, my two-pound bangles tore into me. What an idiot.

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    2. I got my ears pierced at 60. My best friend has just had hers done at 70! We'll grow up soon.

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    3. At least you could go for the blue hair. I mean, the really blue hair.

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  12. "Hey! Bagel head!" Nope. No way that sounds flattering. I still want a tattoo. A few years ago, I wanted a tiny guardian angel on my right shoulder. Now I want a tiny hummingbird. At my age, I could go anytime, so maybe I should just get the damn thing and not worry about changing my mind again.

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    1. Now I'm curious, Jayne. Do you have a guardian angel? If you do go for the hummingbird, go for broke. Go for the latest science. Depict him with the double tongue that opens and flaps shut. They didn't know anything about that until they did the slo-mo video, recently.

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  13. The other day I saw a guy on television with stringy and unattractive long hair and beard. I heard myself say, "Cut your damn hair," at which point I realized I'd become my parents. Except that I like most long hair, and even some tats and piercings. Body art is not only about rebellion, it's also about making oneself more noticeable for purposes of attracting a mate and/or gaining stature in one's immediate community.

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    1. I would say it's entirely about gaining stature in one's immediate community. I live in a community of people gnarly past the age of vanity. I pump myself up by mentioning I poop every day.

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  14. If I can't wash it off or grow it out I won't be doing it.

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  15. Bageling? Whaa....? Seriously???

    I'm speechless.

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    1. Google it yourself, dear. There's a video. Of the process. Which supports my hypothesis that it was an accidental discovery. I know for a fact that whoever pumped the saline into the head (fill out wrinkles?) got nervous and tried to mash it down with his thumb. Et voila.

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  16. You kids! Always with the bagel jokes! Oy vey!

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  17. I have NO IDEA why ANYONE would want to participate in that Bageling head thing. OMG. I'm horrified.

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    1. Good enough! I nominate you, meleah! Report back soon with photos, hokay?

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  18. Every generation wants to be different, it's just a pity that they all end up looking the same.
    (I've just realised - no piercings, no tattoos, does that make me an individual?)

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    1. Yes ma'am, yes it does. You and me, sister. (My ears sealed shut. I'm a virgin again.)

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  19. In agreement with Roxie above, that the next move might be away from all those things entirely. How refreshing that would be :)

    Have you seen the video of the guy with full-body tattoos who - as part of an ad for a covering makeup, Dermablend - had all his tattoos covered up, then revealed as he washed the make-up off. Wait, I'll find the link ...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mIBKifOOQQ&feature=relmfu

    and this one shows behind the scenes:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLpbMqQMelk&feature=relmfu

    Now THAT's a tattoo! (or a few)

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    1. I was excited to look at this because there are only a few completely tattooed people in the world and one of them lived on my mail route. Different guy, though. I used to call mine the colored guy, behind his back. I'm bad.

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    2. When I didn't call him Checkerhead.

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  20. I'm a wimp. I can't even put a contact lens in my eye. There is no way I could do anything more permanent to my body.

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    1. Hey. It takes the vanity of a sixteen-year-old to slam an old-style contact lens in the eye. They were like hubcaps.

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  21. If I was desperate to transform into a food item, I don't think I'd choose a bagel. They look pretty doughy and upappetizing. A cobbler or a danish would be a be a better choice.

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    1. A Danish would look pretty similar. Broccoli would just be scary.

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    2. But wouldn't you love a Halloween headgear that replaced your hair with broccoli?

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    3. My hair, which used to be more cabbage-like, is veering toward broccoli more every year.

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  22. Maybe when I get a little older I'll get a tattoo with an "If found please return to..." or like wisewebwoman's DNR orders on the chest.

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    1. A long time ago, and never mind why, I painted a T-shirt for Dave that said:

      "DAVE."
      If found, please return to....[our address]

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  23. Ms. Bagelhead reminds me of my most recent yellow-jacket event. It zapped me right between the eyes and gave me a free Botox treatment for frown lines, but with added results like those of that over-enthusiastic (read under-competent) nurse. I can't say it looked fashionable, though.

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    1. Get out! Dave just got stung in the eyelid this week. His whole face bageled up.

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    2. The advice nurse said she got stung in the eyelid--says they aim for the eyes, which I hadn't heard. What I do know, partly from personal experiences I don't like to recall, is that they get aggressive around the end of summer and into fall. The spray cans of ingredient including oils of lemongrass, cloves, rosemary, and geranium, or similar, work great--except for upside down, when the sprayer doesn't operate at all. That's a problem when the enemy is under the bottom of the siding.

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  24. A friend of mine makes radio documentaries. She is very, very rarely on air live. She now swears she will never go to air live after her quite vocal reaction when the gentleman she was interiewing about his piercings said they were fine - 'until the one in his scrotum became infected. And did she want to have a look....'

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    1. I wouldn't necessarily want to look at a random scrotum, but an infected one? Sign me up!

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  25. We ARE our parents (actually, it was my grandparents who were most shocked by the 70's). So, shouldn't we just be able to roll with it and not be surprised by anything any more? I mean, as long as no one wants me to put a plate in my earlobe, I am fine with it.
    I can't even bring myself to color my hair, let alone get a tattoo...but I do have my ears pierced.

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  26. Replies
    1. Seriously, I have read that up to 3/4 of doctors will ignore one.

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  27. I wish I didn't know about this. I am so freaked out.

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    1. You should get my Memory Eraser. Works great. I'll probably put in this exact same post in a year, though.

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  28. I've thought of having little, tiny cornflowers tattooed on my thighs - one in each dimple of cellulite. But I'd just look bruised.

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    1. I think you're well on the way to coming up with an excellent cosmetic treatment for spider veins, though.

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  29. I had my nose pierced (on the side) at age 55. Cute but I felt like I had a paper clip up my nostril and I couldn't keep my hands off of it so it never healed up right. A few years later I yanked to out by accident when wiping sweat off my face in the garden and decided that was the end of that.

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    1. Honestly, I would have thought that no one would do that at age 55. Report back on your motivations, please! And is it true that the studs stay in just from boogers, or is there a backing on the inside of the nostril?

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  30. When I administered GED tests at the county jail, one of the guards told me that the stretched out earlobes are referred to by inmates as "love handles."

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  31. So how come Pootie isn't sporting nose or nipple piercings here, of maybe some clever fur clipping that spells out his Mama's name?

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  32. A young thing at the gym had a 10" tattoo of a mouse wearing a baseball cap over one eye while sucking its thumb and standing with its feet crossed over each other. It went from her lower back to her hip. Cloyingly "cute" but I was comforted by the thought of it sliding down a 75 year old backside. Also love "typos" on tats. *evil Muttley laugh*

    With a scar up one leg from my ankle to the top of my leg, and another from below my sternum to the base of my throat (bypass surgery), I'm scary enough. No tats, bagels or plugs needed.

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    1. Aw. A well-placed zipper tattoo might be fun.

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  33. Oh, this makes me feel so much better about my son's ear. I'll take a donut in the earlobe over a bagel on the forehead any day.

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    1. I don't usually say this, but please don't show this to your son.

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  34. Oh, lord.

    (I just said that because the situation called for something, but I'm damned if I know what.)

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  35. Replies
    1. Jocelyn, from your picture, you remind me of someone.

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  36. Do they only do bagels? I'm not very keen on bagels. Might they do a croissant instead?

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    1. You know those donut holes? I've seen a few old dogs with a bunch of those.

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  37. Bagel forehead--WTF??

    On a serious note, Germaine Greer wrote a wonderful article on "One Man's Mutilation is Another Man's Beautification." I used it when I taught college freshmen--and would always get a good discussion going. We began with ear piercings, other piercings they might have...then worked our way to teeth filing, facial and body scarification, flat-head shaping (Northwest Native Americans), neck elongation, front teeth knocked out. Etc.
    I was always amused at how horrified they were at some of the ritual markings humans use, but thought nothing of piercing body parts ad infinitum.

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    1. Is GG still with us? The Female Eunuch opened my little eyeballs. I guess it's horribly dated now.

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  38. That bagel thing is really bizarre.

    My husband advises incoming students for OSU's College of Forestry. Yesterday he had a student come in (in his mid 30s) covered head to toe with tatts, platters in both ears, piercings in nose, lip, mouth...wanting to "make a change" in his life. Hubbie wanted to say "You've made so many f***ing bad choices in your life so far, that this is going to be close to impossible...how are you ever gonna work with landowners in rural Oregon????" But instead he was really patient & kind. Cuz you never know.Maybe something will work out.

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    1. I just had a searing recollection of the way I felt when my father tried to gently tell me that my efforts to look like a slut might give someone the wrong impression. Because it was what was inside that counted, and people shouldn't judge other people on anything else. Actually, it took me a while to realize that deep inside, I was kind of a slut.

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  39. Apparently "bagel head" has its roots in Canada. How proud am I to be Canadian today??

    http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1271992---bagel-head-body-modification-has-roots-in-canada

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