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This entry in the BME encyclopedia contains quotations on tattoos, body piercing, body art and body modification.

I don't want to pierce anything. I think it's outdated. Belly rings and all are, like, old.

I did a branding on this kid's arm last night that said, "VEGAN." About half way through, I asked him how long he had been vegan, blah, blah, blah ... turns out he's not vegan at all — he just decided that "VEGETARIAN" had too many letters in it!

John Joyce, Scarab Body Arts
Show me a man with a tattoo, and I'll show you a man with an interesting past.
—Jack London
You may lose your most valuable property through misfortune in various ways. You may lose your house, your wife and other treasures. But of your moko, you cannot be deprived except by death. It will be your ornament and companion until your last day.
—Netana Whakaari of Waimana (1921)
Every man is the builder of a temple, called his body, to the god he worships, after a style purely his own, nor can he get off by hammering marble instead. We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones. Any nobleness begins at once to refine a man's features, any meanness or sensuality to imbrute them.
—Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1862)
"Tattoos are cool."

"Yeah, I wish I was born with one."
"You're not born with tattoos, dumbass. You get them when you join the Navy."

—Beavis & Butthead
Tattoos are like stories — they're symbolic of the important moments in your life. Sitting down, talking about where you got each tattoo and what it symbolizes, is really beautiful.
Tattoos are like marriage: it's a lifelong commitment, it hurts like hell, and the color fades over time.
—Terri Guillemets
Freaks are the much needed escape from the humdrum. They are poetry.
—Albert Perry, Tattoo (1933)
I just don't want to die without a few scars, I say. It's nothing any more to have a beautiful stock body. You see those cars that are completely stock cherry, right out of a dealer's showroom in 1955, I always think, what a waste.
—Tyler Durden (Chuck Palahniuk), Fight Club (page 39) (1996, book; 1999, movie)
I'd sooner be completely naked with my tattoos showing as a raw human being than dressed up in some bikini, because that's not who I am.
Tattooed men who are not behind bars are either latent criminals or degenerate aristocrats. If someone who is tattooed dies in freedom, then he does so a few years before he would have committed murder.
—Adolf Loos, Ornament und Verbrechen (1962)
My body is a journal in a way. It's like what sailors used to do, where every tattoo meant something, a specific time in your life when you make a mark on yourself, whether you do it yourself with a knife or with a professional tattoo artist.
Women, don't get a tattoo. That butterfly looks great on your breast when you're twenty or thirty, but when you get to seventy, it stretches into a condor.
—Billy Elmer
I feel that some piercings reflect the personality, and those are more like haircuts or styles of clothing that you embrace. Other piercings are supposed to be there. When you look in the mirror, you don't look different so much as same somehow, as if it has been there all along.
Jon Cobb (1997)
(As he is being tattooed) Vaughn: It's too clean.

Tattooist: Medical tattoos are supposed to be clean.
Vaughan: But this is not a medical tattoo. It's a prophetic tattoo. Prophecy is ragged and dirty ... so make it ragged and dirty.

Crash (1996), J.G. Ballard (adapted)
Evidence indicates that it is the mere presence of the tattoo, not its artistic content, that correlates with certain diagnoses. Thus, any tattoo can be viewed as a warning sign that should alert the practicing physician to look for underlying psychiatric conditions.
—Robert F. Raspa and John Cusack, Psychiatric Implications of Tattoos

in American Family Physician (1990)

By using your body, modifying your body, you can go into [different] states of consciousness and discover the true nature of life and yourself.
A person should realize that the tattoo is not just being placed on your body; it is becoming a part of you, an extension of yourself.
Young people in particular find little connection with spiritual rituals that are highly mediated by priests. They need more direct experiences to inform their beliefs and values. Bodily ordeals provide a platform for direct experience with states of consciousness that can be perceived as spiritual.
Our bodies are apt to be our autobiographies.
—Frank Gillette Burgess
The mind's first step to self-awareness must be through the body.
—George Sheehan
The bodyart crowd is a loving, highly intelligent group, despite public opinion. Tattoos do not instantly mean "convict." In this instance, they mean "computer geek."
I got rid of all [my piercings]. I can't stand the visual rape of walking down Saint Marks Pl. and having all these unknown people offend me with facial piercings, which are just there to shock and give a pretense of alienation ... And as for their supposed 'tribalism,' just throw a $100 bill into the middle of the room and see how unified they are.
I like taking pictures of punk rock girls. I make them look hot!
When you open the flesh, you let something in.
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