It’s one thing to have a ring through your nose, but how about an infection that gives you hepatitis? An ornamental needle through a belly button might seem sexy at first, but wouldn’t with skin infections later that can lead to death.
That’s why Washington State is considering a law to regulate people who tattoo and do body piercings.
A bartender from Florida, Whitney Nash, who has gone through training in body piercing was surprised to learn that there were no regulations in Washington State. He, like some lawmakers, knows that infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, hepatitis B and MRSA can be spread by unsterilized equipment used in tattoos and body piercing. Another professional body piercer, Troy Amundson, has been lobbying for regulation, asking Rep. Sherry Appleton five years ago to write a bill to control body piercing and make sure there are proper health regulations. He represents more than 120 body-piercing and tattooing shops in Washington, but still there is no agency in charge of enforcement despite the fact that in 2001 the Legislature passed legislation setting health standards for tattoo parlors.
In Louisiana, as in other states, body piercing is big business, although Rings of Desire is closed according to its website. Its graphic depiction of genital piercing remains. Then there’s a form of special Louisiana body piercing described like this in somewhat colloquial grammar and spelling: “Popular form of body peircing in the bayous of the state of Louisiana. It is done by peircing used crab/ or crawfish class to the ears or man nipples.” A comment just after from someone says that a lot of nipples have been nipped off that way.
So much for regulations and Louisiana exotic, but what is the practice of tattoos there in other places? In Samoa tattoos are part of a particular culture, and in Samoa and New Zealand some people have whole body tattoos as well as body piercings. In fact there many listings for New Zealand places that offer the service of tattoos and body piercings.
Neither the Louisiana nor the New Zealand listings offer assurances that the practice is regulated and standards applied, so folks like Amundson, who advocate guidelines, maintains folks check out whether or not people have appropriate training and maintenance of health standards because not doing so can lead to trouble. Like HIV/AIDS.