x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Teen life: The price of rebellion can be more than some want to pay

Would a tattoo be good for character building? Having a bloody dagger branded on our skins would toughen up our soppy selves - or maybe not.

Teens like sporting things that draw attention to them and scream of heroics and suffering. Tattoos and piercings have exerted a spell over us for years. What could be a more fitting tribute to our narcissistic, rebellious, style-hungry personalities than an Ed Hardy logo emblazoned on our forehead, or a surface weave piercing shaped like the Loch Ness monster? We were seriously talking about whether we’d like to get tattoos one day. “I want to shed the clean girl image, you know? I’m tired of people thinking I’m just a nice law-abiding person,” Prianka said wistfully.

“Prianka,” interjected Shanzeh, “you think jaywalking’s terrible. Your daily bedtime’s nine.” I sniggered dutifully and uncomfortably; so is mine. Veronika pulled back her teeth in an impersonation of the Joker from Batman. “I want to highlight my bad side! That’s why I want a tattoo – I saw a really nice design with the silhouettes of Peter Pan and the children flying off to Neverland!”

I actually thought that sounded wonderfully quirky and nostalgic, but oh dear, perhaps a tattoo would be good for character building. Having a bloody dagger branded on our skins would toughen up our soppy selves – or maybe not.

Our classmate Simran has just returned from a holiday in Turkey with a piercing in his eyebrow. Unlike us, sadly, he’s more of a doer than a contemplator. He started thinking about it after the novelty of his earring wore off, and as he noticed eyebrow piercings on other people he knew. At a restaurant with friends, Simran suddenly leant back, theatrically declaring on the spur of the moment that he was going to go through with it. The eavesdropping waiter fluttered over. “I know just the place, sir. Come along.”

“What, now? Oh no, maybe we should think it over? Hey, I said no!”

The fat was in the fire. Simran was dragged, much to the delight of his jubilant friends, to a piercing parlour, where a lethal-looking device was inserted into his skin and the piercing wiggled in. “The pain is awful, I’m going to die from it, if I don’t, I’ll die from an infection – Izzy, what are you doing?”

Izzy was carefully and blissfully making a video of the ordeal to put on Facebook as comedic entertainment for the world. To Simran’s immense relief, he was spritzed with antiseptic after all. Pity they forgot the anaesthetic.

At least he can show it off to his admiring peers, a glinting silver battle scar from an agony-filled evening with a burly Turkish piercing artist. If only the rest of us had the courage to do something as daring – how easy it would be to dispel the girl-next-door image we’d been talking about. Simran’s macho-ness is intact for other guys to envy and he modestly shrugs and asks how can the ladies help but be impressed. He returned to Dubai triumphant. He acknowledged admiring comments with grace and smiled benevolently upon less cool souls. That was before the fearful Waterloo, a scene bound to strike terror into the bravest of hearts. He reached home. His mother was not impressed.

Lavanya Malhotra is an 18-year-old student in Dubai


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