Hey Ghosties! Happy Fucking Friday, we all managed to make it through another week of adulthood which, in 2021, is no small feat. I’d love to be here in the spirit of fun today, but I gotta get real for a bit- such is life I suppose. I’m here today to talk about something that’s been following me around for a while now, and this is the first AND last time I’m going to do so.
You could probably use a little backstory now, so here goes. Being that part of what we do here at The Ghost Generation is making plugs for your beautiful stretched earlobes, we’re a part of quite a few Groups on Facebook that are dedicated to plugs, stretching, and body mods of all kinds. I already hated fucking Facebook, and I didn’t think anything could make me hate it more until I spent a little time as a member of these groups. They’re not bad in and of themselves, but there’s a select few individuals who make shit REAL difficult for us and I’m writing this today because I’m sick and tired of being bullied, gaslighted, and shut out of conversations.
Social media is the perfect mirror for the decline of human cognition.
I’ll probably catch some hate for speaking so bluntly about this issue, but I absolutely don’t care. Maybe nobody will give a shit, maybe some of you will agree, but regardless- we’re all supposed to have a voice in the global conversation and I’m using mine.
In the body piercing/body modification world there are a metric ton of people who like to assert themselves as “experts” in the field. 99.999999% aren’t. Nope, they’re just people who HAVE piercings, or worked at a tattoo shop, or just people who like to listen to the sound of their own bullshit. The piercers themselves? Sometimes they’re full of shit too, that might be hard for some of you to hear but it’s true. Shock! Dismay! Who the fuck ever set it in stone that by nature of BEING something you’re automatically the definitive authority on the subject? Madness.
Anywho, I make my plugs two ways currently:
- 316L surgical steel tunnels which I fill with various pretty things and epoxy resin.
- Straight-up cast epoxy resin (with the same pretty things).
It just so happens that the main materials I use to make my plugs are also the two that seem to draw the most ire amongst “experts” and most piercers themselves. They say resin/steel isn’t safe, they say it’s “toxic trash”, and they shut us out of groups and hijack posts to troll us about this shit on a near-constant basis. Here’s the thing though: I’m a fucking 40 year-old man who is trying to run a business, build a brand, raise two kids, and be the best husband/person that I can be. There’s a lot riding on this business for me and I have a house full of people I don’t want to let down. Why in the wild blue FUCK would I be out in the world peddling “toxic trash” to the unsuspecting earlobes of the world? I wouldn’t, because I’m not an idiot.
Hate to break it to you “TRVEGOTH666”, but you don’t know shit.
I did exhaustive amounts of research before I ever made my first pair of plugs, and I heard all the chatter about this shit a long time ago. Again, I’m not some dipshit off the street trying to make a cheap buck- I’m a fucking artist, who has his OWN earlobes stretched, who wants to bring some beauty into this catastrophe of a world. All that to say- I set out to do this so I could be a POSITIVE member of that community, not a poison, and anyone painting me or anyone LIKE me in that way is wrong. Period.
Here’s the argument, first regarding 316L surgical steel: Surgical steel exists in different grades and is made of different metals. The hot-button issue is that most surgical steel contains very small amounts of nickel at its core. If the metal on the outside were to wear down and expose what’s on the inside, somebody who is sensitive to nickel could have a reaction. This is why we only use nickel-free materials in our necklaces/earrings/etc., we want to be as friendly to your bodies as possible. Steel tunnels are a slightly different beast, the amount of nickel is trace at best, and it’s locked inside the core of the alloy. I’m not sure what the fuck a person would have to do to wear down a pair of plugs enough to expose the core inside, so to my logical adult brain it’s a non-starter. See below-
316L surgical steel is also the most common material used for initial body piercings, outside of titanium. Titanium is considered “implant grade” and a lot of these so-called experts will tell you that titanium is the only material worth a shit when it comes to body jewelry. That’s absolutely not true though, but because body piercers don’t want to get sued that’s the rhetoric they stick to. I get it, but they’re not leaving room for others, like myself, to penetrate with logic.
Oh logic, I miss you so.
316L surgical steel is widely used because it is hypoallergenic for almost anyone unless you have a particular sensitivity, see below…again:
So, unless you’re particularly sensitive or allergic to it, 316L surgical steel is PERFECTLY safe for use in stretched earlobes. And, since it’s not an ACTUAL FUCKING IMPLANT INTO YOUR FUCKING BODY titanium isn’t necessary. Plus, if small makers like myself and other were forced to use nothing but titanium we’d have to charge a fortune and a half for our plugs and it’s already hard enough to get people to value our work in the first place. Those articles/clipping I’ve thrown in above? Readily available information on the internet. Some people would rather believe alien pedophile lizards are smuggling children through secret pizza dungeons than acknowledge that MAYBE they’re wrong, and vastly overreacting to something that isn’t even a real problem.
I’m doing my best here to blow off some steam about this shit while also presenting my case intelligently, and I feel like I’ve done that with 316L surgical steel so we’ll move on to epoxy resin.
Here’s the rub with resin: Some resins are body safe/food safe and some aren’t. The ones that AREN’T body safe can leech not-so-great stuff into your skin with extended wear, the ones that ARE body safe don’t. Period. Let’s talk about job responsibilities for a second before I go further. It is 100% MY responsibility to do the following: do diligent research before bringing ANY product to market to make sure it is safe for my customers, make sure I stick to the highest of safety and quality standards when I produce our products, and to make sure I’m educated about the things I use, make, sell etc. It is 100% YOUR job as a consumer to make sure you know what you can and cannot wear on your body. You’re an adult just like me, I know what I can wear safely and you should too. The ironic thing? The only material I’ve EVER had a reaction to in my entire tenure stretching my lobes has been wood. A perfectly smooth pair of wood plugs enflamed my holes so bad the plugs got stuck for like a week and once I finally got them out I had to keep plugs out for a couple weeks to let them calm down. Wood is also one of the materials “experts” will tell you is the safest, so take that as you will.
All human bodies are different, you should get to know yours. Not THAT part, you know that one already.
I’m not saying it’s right, I’m not saying I wasn’t an idiot, but I’ve stretched with acrylic tapers before, I’ve stretched too far too fast, I’ve worn acrylic, resin, everything under the sun and the only fucking time I got a reaction was with those wood bastards. I wear my 316L surgical steel/resin plugs every fucking day of my life and so do the customers that have left us nothing but 5-star reviews on our shop soooooo… fuck the arguments, fuck the gaslighting, and FUCK the trolling.
Ok, ok, rant over- back to the task at hand! So, resin- some of it is safe and some of it isn’t. What about what I use? I use the brand Art N Glow exclusively for jewelry, and here’s the skinny on Art N Glow:
I’d just stop talking now but I’ll go into more detail. That really does say it all though. The resin I use is 100% safe- that’s it. It is FDA-certified as food safe, which also makes it body safe. It doesn’t produce fumes, it doesn’t produce toxic compounds, and it is perfectly safe for stretched lobes. Remember, I’m not making jewelry for sub-dermal fucking implants here, plugs don’t even technically go IN your body. Here’s the thing too, when people talk about how toxic epoxy resin is they’re not even giving you the full story. Almost ALL resins (besides the brand I use and those designated as such) are toxic WHEN THEY ARE IN LIQUID FORM. I’ll say it again for emphasis- almost ALL resins are toxic WHEN THEY ARE IN LIQUID FORM. Once they harden, donezo. No toxicity.
Another argument I’m hearing a lot about resin, polymer clay (yep, also safe if the BRAND is safe and you prepare it properly), surgical steel, etc. is this shit about “it can cause irritation with extended wear”. Or, “resin is porous and leeches toxic chemicals into your skin”. I’m gonna start with the second one- yeah, it’s porous. So are a lot of things. Being porous doesn’t automatically mean toxic shit is gonna infect your earlobes, and if you scroll back up to my last point about the SPECIFIC brand of resin I use I don’t need to say anything else. But, this “extended wear” shit is what REALLY grinds my rusty gears. Here’s a thought- maybe people should take their plugs the fuck OUT once in a while. Most of us do, so we can clean them, and our lobes, and anyone with SUPER huge stretches is gonna be conditioning them frequently with jojoba oil or something similar to keep that teeny bit on skin nice and healthy.
“Extended wear” is the dumbest fucking thing I’ve ever heard, because NOBODY should just throw in some plugs and leave them in for weeks on end. Wash those motherfuckers! The resin I use directly counters this argument because its body safe, but shouldn’t LOGIC AND REASON be counter enough? Just cause some people, who have to use shit like titanium for regulation purposes, have strong opinions about shit like this why does everyone treat it as gospel? I know I’m not the only one who deals with this shit, cause I’ve seen it happen to quite a few other people too. There are TONS of people who make plugs & jewelry with epoxy resin because it’s a fucking rad medium and it’s versatile as hell. It’s easy to learn, tough to master, and you can really do some cool shit with it. And, if you’re smart and want to succeed at all, you’ll be like me and do your research to make sure you’re unfuckwithable.
So what does it all mean?
It means I’m done. I’m done putting up with this elitist, “I’m an expert”, “what body piercers say is the only correct information” bullshit that gets thrown at me every time I’m just trying to promote our business in a group filled with a huge part of my exact audience. Cause I don’t need this shit, I didn’t ask for this shit, and I don’t DESERVE this shit. I’m not some moron out here selling bootleg products to “get one over on you”. I’m a grown, intelligent, hard-working person who has done his research, learned his craft, and is confident that the products he makes are safe for your lovely stretched earlobes. You know how many of my customers have reported adverse reactions to my plugs? Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
That’s right, NONE of them. If you take a quick gander at the reviews on our shop you’ll see a lot of talk about quality, beauty, and radness but a completely non-existent amount of talk about rotten ears, burning faces, and angry refunds. Why? I know my shit, THAT’S why. I quality control my products like I’m defusing a fucking bomb- like my life depends on it, because it does. If I’m out here hurting people I’ll get shut down. If I’m out here selling “toxic trash” I won’t get repeat customers (of which I have many). If I’m out here being a negative voice in the piercing/body mod community I’m only doing myself and everyone else a disservice. I’m not doing any of those things though, but the very same community I’m trying to be a positive part of is becoming a place where I get almost nothing but negativity directed towards me and I’ve had enough.
Maybe it’s time to allow some different schools of thought, some new points of view, some additional educated opinions- and maybe it’s also time for every single one of you/us to acknowledge this one very important piece of information- we make FASHION jewelry, NOT piercing jewelry. We aren’t making titanium, implant-grade plugs designed to be used at the tattoo shop for a fresh piercing. We are the pretty things you buy once that shit heals. We’re not CLAIMING to be “suitable to shove into your spinal cord”, we’re here to make art you can wear and to make sure we do it safely. Piercers have to adhere to strict regulations or they’ll be shut down, but we’re not piercers- were a retailer, but were also a RESPONSIBLE retailer and I’d like to be recognized as such.
Like I said before, it’s up to YOU to know what you can and cannot wear, it’s up to The Ghost Generation to provide you with plugs and jewelry that are, to the best of our knowledge, safe for anyone to wear unless they have a specific sensitivity. Anything outside of that? Its all noise, ego bullshit, and posturing.
I’m not writing this to make friends, which is probably a good thing.
I’m writing this because I know I’m not the only one getting shit on, there are SO many people out there making plugs just like me and I know firsthand how tough it is to build a business. It makes it so much harder when all you’re trying to do is reach your audience and your posts get hijacked by so-called fucking experts who start accusing you of being Jack the Ripper when it’s just not fucking true. Period. I’m not gonna sit here and take this shit anymore because I don’t fucking have to- if this article gets me banned from all the Facebook groups I genuinely don’t care- this is my truth, and my truth is part of a BIGGER truth than just myself, so I’m going to speak out. I’m sick of people trying to silence me, accuse me, and shut me out because of some shit they read on the internet, or something an “expert” has said. To my point, you ever see any cops talking about the benefits of cannabis? No? That’s because it’s their job to ARREST people who have it. Same goes for piercers. Their livelihood depends on their knowledge of their craft and safety regulations, so they only recommend the things that regulations declare to be safest and everything else is “toxic trash”.
That’s a little, Ok a LOT, extreme don’t ya think? I think there’s room for all of us to coexist, as long as we’re not part of the PROBLEM we can all help to grow and nurture this lovely community of glorious weirdos and outcasts together. The Ghost Generation is NOT part of the problem, and not trying to BE part of the problem. We are trying to build a business to provide for our family and our dreams, we are trying to make art and get better at our craft every day, and we are trying to be the best global citizens and allies we can be to the world in 2021. That’s IT. There’s no other side to our story, no “bait and switch”, no scheme lurking under the surface. I’ll show you all my sources, I’ll show you all our tax returns, I don’t give a FUCK. We have nothing to hide, no nefarious intentions, and certainly NOTHING to gain by peddling unsafe jewelry to make a quick buck.
Shit, I’d LOVE to make a “quick buck”. A “day in the life” of a small business owner includes countless hours of content creation, copy writing, graphic design, social media til your eyes pop out, producing products, inventory, new product development, taxes, marketing- and that’s just before breakfast. I’m not even sure a “quick buck” fucking exists for us, because everything we make is made with so much care and attention to detail/quality that the word “quick” doesn’t even enter into our lexicon. We don’t do “quick”, we do RIGHT.
And, if all of the plug makers that use resin and steel were so toxic I bet the FDA would be shutting us down like it was fucking Prohibition up in this piece.
But they’re not, because it’s bullshit. I know it to be 100% true, and I’m confident in what I do beyond a shadow of a doubt. I’m careful, I’m educated, and I’m fucking smart. There really isn’t much more I can say besides this- we have GOT to get to a place where there’s more dialogue beyond “that’s trash”. The internet, before we know it, will have stolen our ability to process individual thought, our mental autonomy a relic of the past. We’ll continue to form strong opinions based in nothing and rudely throw them in people’s faces who don’t fucking deserve it. I have two kids- what part of my life do you think has time pencilled in for “getting blasted by trolls half your age that want to sabotage your good name!”? Yeah, no part. I don’t have the will, the desire, or the fucking time to deal with it and you shouldn’t either. I won’t be engaging with this stuff anymore, I’m just going to “walk away”. If that means I have a harder time reaching my audience, so be it I guess. I shouldn’t have to defend myself when I’ve done nothing wrong, and I’m not TRYING to do anything wrong either, and I’m not gonna do it anymore.
I don’t know how this article will be received and I don’t care. Like I said, it’s my truth and if that doesn’t go down well with the crowd I fully accept that risk. Hopefully, it’ll open up a dialogue and maybe stop a little of the vitriol that gets directed at people like me for no good reason, but I doubt it. Who knows though, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised but no matter what I will have spoken my truth, pleaded my case, and presented my evidence with honesty, integrity, and experience so I’ll be sleeping just fine. Have an awesome weekend, unless you’re a troll, in which case I hope you have diarhhea.
BE YOURSELF DEFIANTLY