You might encounter double nose rings, eyebrow piercings and a wide variety of noticeable tattoos in the 10-minute passing-period between classes while walking around campus.
Body adornment has become extremely popular in recent years, especially among today’s generation. People get piercings impulsively, as a form of self-expression and it often represents a rite of passage among college students.
“We cater to young and old, but we focus on the college demographic,” said Shane Thomas, piercing expert at Covenant Tattoo.
Thomas has been piercing professionally since 1995 and has seen the body modification community evolve. It was underground in the early 2000’s, but has recently surfaced as a popular activity.
“In 1997, I thought it was just a fad,” said Chad Williams, head piercer and manager of Tribal Rites.
He claims it became popular once people saw piercings in MTV music videos, especially in an Aerosmith video. Williams quickly realized that it could be a lucrative business. On any given day, he can do between 10 to 40 piercings, receiving anywhere from $20 to $60 per piercing.
Fort Collins is unique in this sense, because most shops only do three to five piercings a day, according to Williams.
“Fort Collins is kind of an anomaly,” he said. “Piercings are really popular in Colorado, but in Fort Collins more than anywhere else.”
K&K Piercing in Boulder, for example, does one to 10 piercings per day.
Williams is from Connecticut, where piercings are uncommon. He based his shop in Fort Collins because it is a different atmosphere.
“Because campus is central in Fort Collins, there is always an abundance of customers,” said Brandon Leimgruber, a retired piercer at Freakshow.
CSU students have a variety of piercing shops from which to choose. Because piercing culture is so prominent in Fort Collins, the standards of each shop significantly increase. Most shops are certified by the Association of Professional Piercers.
Customers ask for a variety of piercings when they come in. They can range anywhere from a naval to a tongue or dermal piercing on any given day.
The most common piercings these days are the cartilage of the ear, the naval and the nose. Piercings are much more popular among girls as well.
“If I had to guess, about 98 percent of my clients are women,” Williams said.
Men still enter the shop, but they are interested in slightly different piercings, mainly their ear lobes. These days, it is more socially acceptable for men to have piercings and for the uncommon piercings to resurface.
“Two years ago, the double nose ring would be unheard of and now it’s everywhere,” Williams said.
Its popularity among college students is partly due to their newfound freedom and a strong sense of curiosity.
“Piercings are easy to hide and not as drastic as tattoos,” Leimgruber said. People also use piercings as a way to differentiate themselves from other college students.
“Adornment is used to help people express themselves in positive ways,” Thomas said.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a negative stigma associated with piercings and tattoos, according to Fort Collins piercing specialists. They are not only uncommon on the east coast, but in most corporate jobs as well. The workplace doesn’t take too kindly to visible piercings and tattoos.
Thomas thinks that, thankfully, “piercings and tattoos in society are evolving.” They no longer shock the general public –– people of our generation are the driving force of the expanding social acceptance of piercings.
Student Life Beat Reporter Amanda Zetah can be reached at email@example.com.