In all societies there are cultural mores and traditions, language dialects, dress code and physical markings that can serve to distinguish one culture from another. And within cultures, there are sub-cultures, again each often distinguishable from other groups through their physical appearances and language.
And so it is with teenagers, with a defined “look” and language marking each type of group, albeit the look is often a “uniform” they wear and so in looking different they all look the same, in order to belong. Girls in short denim shorts, boys in skin-tight mid-butt jeans, hair just so. In fact not much has changed from when I was a teenager wearing the same skin-tight jeans funnily enough.
There is however a disturbing trend we recently discovered that is clearly a cultural behaviour, but one that alarmed me so much I contacted the school to alert them (oh yes, you can imagine how popular that made me at home can’t you?). The trend is a form of tatoo-ing, whereby young boys use cans of deodorant to literally burn themselves, thereby creating a scar on their inner arm. I first noticed it on Man-Child II, who had two burns, one on his inner arm, and one on the top of his hand. Both very nasty, inflamed and scabbed. I naturally asked what had happened, and was mortified and gob-smacked to learn a friend of his had encouraged him to do it to himself. I quote: “You what??? If (nameless friend) had asked you to jump off the West Gate would you? What sort of idiot are you? He’s not to welcome to our house again…….(mother continues ranting for at least another five minutes – you get the picture I am sure).
I have since noticed many of my sons friends that have the same markings. Each time I make a point of letting them know I have seen the scars, so they know I am well aware of it. I don’t expect they give two hoots about my view, but I still want them to know that I’m not blind to this behaviour. I find this sort of self-mutilation quite disturbing amongst young boys and certainly can’t recall any similar activities amongst my peers when I was a teenager. It makes body piercings seem banal doesn’t it? My only hope is that this is the worst sort of tattoo they will ever have – the alternative is a lot more permanent.