DEAR ABBY: I am an 18-year-old male, and every day I face judgment, cruel remarks, disapproving stares and other harassment.
The reason? I want to be a tattoo and piercing artist. I currently have one tattoo (which my shirtsleeve covers) and more than 20 piercings. Eight of the piercings are in my face, and most of the others are in my ears. My main ear holes are stretched out to a half-inch.
I can't walk down the street without hearing some comment, or someone stopping and staring, slack-jawed. Even friendly inquiries are becoming irritating. I'm passionate about tattoos and piercings and have been since childhood. I chose my piercings to balance each other and create an art form on my face and ears.
At school I was judged and stereotyped at the beginning of each year and would go out of my way to prove I am a nice, respectable human being with feelings. Now, with a new school term approaching, how can I get people to stop judging me and asking dumb questions like, "How bad did that hurt?" -- FUTURE SKIN ARTIST, PORT HURON, MICH.
DEAR FUTURE SKIN ARTIST: You have chosen to look different, so you shouldn't be surprised at the staring and the questions. The sooner you realize it and learn to answer the questions without being defensive, the better your chances will be of being accepted.
P.S. Perhaps in the future you should consider moving to Los Angeles. In this town everyone has seen almost everything, and people who are different are less shocking.