Jewish World Review April 28, 2004 / 7 Iyar, 5764

Bill Ferguson

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Eyeball jewelry the latest fashionable way to display lack of intelligence | I've never quite understood the attraction of what is euphemistically called "body art." It used to be that tattoos were for sailors and "piercing" was usually confined to the earlobes of women. Nowadays an increasing number of people from all walks of life are covering themselves with tattoos and piercing any flap of skin dense enough to support a stainless steel post.

It all seems a little strange to me. It's not that I have any particular aversion to needles. I give blood regularly and I haven't cried (much) about having to get a shot since I was in grade school. But in general it is my policy to try to avoid situations where sharp objects threaten to pierce my protective layer of epidermis. This is especially true when it comes to my more sensitive body parts.

Take the eye for example. For me, the eye is one of the top three places on my body I don't want anyone taking a sharp instrument to. I won't mention what the other two places are, but disturbingly enough it is already the rage to have those areas pierced.

You might assume something as important and delicate as an eyeball would be exempt from the art of "body modification," but you'd be wrong. Thanks to some forward-thinking doctors in the Netherlands who apparently have way too much time on their hands, the world was recently introduced to the exciting possibility of having tiny pieces of jewelry inserted into the mucous membrane of the eyeball.

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Six women and one man have had the cosmetic surgery performed at the Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery, and there is a waiting list for people who want to have the procedure done. The cost is around 500 to 1,000 euros. I'm not sure what that comes to in American dollars and I'm not going to look it up, because I don't want to encourage any of my fellow citizens to do anything as stupid as this.

If you want to see a picture of this latest fashion trend (and it really has to be seen to be believed) check out this page on the CNN Web site or just Google the term "eyeball jewelry" and you'll find plenty of links. But I warn you, if the sight of something metallic embedded in someone's eyeball makes you squeamish you'd best stay away from this one.

I'm all for personal freedom and I wouldn't advocate outlawing this bizarre practice as long as there is no apparent health risk. (The Dutch director of the institute where the procedure is performed has said they have seen no adverse side effects and "don't expect any in the future.")

But I would like to ask anyone who thinks this is a great idea one question - why?

This is not attractive, it's disturbing. And maybe that's the point. Some people want to stand out, and radically altering one's face with tattoos and piercings isn't enough - to really stand out you need to pay a Dutch eye surgeon to insert a gold heart into your eyeball.

It does make a statement. And that statement is this - I'll do anything to get people to look at me, even if I have to resort to doing something completely idiotic. To those people who have had something like this done I want to tell them that your message has been received, and we'll all adjust our image of you accordingly.

Bill Ferguson is a columnist for the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph. Comment by clicking here.


© 2004, Macon (Ga.) Telegraph Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.