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Op-Ed: Who Could Have Seen That Coming?

sclera tattoo, eyeball tattoo procedure

A bad pun about putting yourself into a high-risk situation and being surprised when you’re blind-sided.*

We’ve seen the news lately about an alternative model who had an amateur do an extremely dangerous body modification. Even expert body modification artists acknowledge this procedure is dangerous and potentially stupid, and this model is now potentially going to go blind, all for 15 minutes of fame (Update: As far as I am aware, her vision should not be affected by this, but she may have a deformed iris).

Well, here’s my opinion, for all that it’s worth:

When you take a risk, be prepared to deal with the consequences. When you do something dangerous (and potentially dumb), and if it goes wrong, it’s your fault. Period.

For example, I want to go sky diving one day. It’s something I have wanted to do for years, but I’ll probably never do it because overall, I’m kind of a huge wimp. If I ever muster up the courage to go, I am going to do my research and go to the company that has a good, proven track record of not causing their customers to end up as splat marks in a field somewhere. If I can’t afford that company, then I’ll wait, or more than likely, chicken out. I wouldn't go to the sky diving company with a lower price but no track record, Personally, I don't want to find out what it feels like to be the bug on my windshield.

In the tattoo, piercing and body modification industry, clients sign a form called a waiver. Waivers are a legal document that surrender their right to complain if something bad happens; it is in theory a way to protect the artist(s). This model may not have signed a waiver, but that alone should have been a sign to not go ahead with the procedure.

As a client, your job is to do research. When you get a shitty tattoo because you didn't bother to look at the artist’s portfolio to make sure they had good, consistent work in the style you wanted, that’s your fault, not the artist’s — that artist was just doing the tattoo he or she is capable of. Shitty artists are another whole article altogether. When you cheap out and/or don’t wait for a high quality, professional, experienced artist, when you're getting an incredibly high-risk procedure that has no studies and very few people in existence with the procedure done, when something goes wrong (and I mean WHEN not IF) — sorry to tell you, but you’re a f---ing idiot.

sclera tattoo, Catt Gallinger, eye tattoos

In this model’s situation, she got her (now ex) boyfriend to inject ink into her sclera to colour her eye purple. She blames her deformed eye and potential blindness on her boyfriend’s lack of experience and knowledge. Apparently, he did not dilute the ink; or maybe he didn't use enough injection sites; maybe he injected too much; maybe it was a combination of things. As a professional, I see way too many “maybes” in there. Not knowing exactly HOW something is done means it’s a risk I'm not willing to take as both a client or an artist. At least in my world.

As an “artist” what he has done is inexcusable; he had a responsibility to decline due to risk and lack of knowledge and experience. As a client, she should have never even considered allowing him to attempt replicating something that even two of the most well-known practitioners of that modification advise against.

Now she preaches research and shares other horror stories of routine tattoo and piercings that go horribly wrong. In theory, that’s amazing, if the person sharing the stories knows the industry well enough to comment with an educated opinion.

You can go to a dentist with years of experience and proper credentials, and you can still have complications. Neurosurgeons sometimes have an unexpected reaction and can lose patients. Doctors can misdiagnose. You can go to the most trained person whose skills you trust and even with due diligence, things can go horribly wrong.

For example, we had a gentleman come in recently to get a memorial tattoo for a young member of his family who had gone in for a routine surgery. Everything was going great and he was healing fine — until a blood clot suddenly developed, and he died with no warning and no real explanation as to why. 

The problem with slandering a business, artist, doctor, or professional when something does go wrong is that it’s unfortunately a risk that you took, whether voluntary or involuntary. The human body is unpredictable, and there are millions of variables that affect a procedure or healing.

In the case of the sclera tattoo, it may have nothing to do with the unqualified artist. It could have been due to bacteria she had present on her eye; maybe she was sick; maybe she had scratches on her eye from external factors like a contact lens; maybe she rubbed dirt, dander, or hair into her eye without knowing it; maybe her eye just isn't able to take that procedure. I don’t know because I'm not an expert — but my point is, neither is she.

When getting body modifications, whether it is as routine as a lobe piercing or as common as a tattoo, or something rare and unknown like sub-dermal implants and scarification, things can go wrong. You are accepting responsibility for whatever may happen when you choose to go through with a body modification procedure. If that’s not a risk you deem worth taking, then maybe it isn't something you should be getting done.

*Bad puns contributed by Travis Cadeau (the funny one in the relationship)

Memphis Cadeau

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Painful Pleasures.