Over the last few decades the popularity of body piercings has taken off, according to local tattoo and piercing artist Kevin Govender from Inkspressions Tattoos and Piercings.Body piercing involves injecting a needle into the body surface to produce an opening in which pieces of metal and plastic jewellery can be worn. Tattoos and piercings have been around for centuries and have been used to express religious beliefs through patterns and symbols. Apart from the common earlobe piercing, Govender said that tongue, nose and belly piercings have been the most popular lately, especially among teenagers. Youngsters, male and female, who have indulged in the trend of multiple body piercings said that they first considered getting their piercings done for fashionable and artistic purposes. “I wanted to look cool and feel cool with my ear piercings,” said 20-year-old university student Junaid Denston. Inspirations for new tattoos and piercings are everywhere, and as young adults get older, they have a greater need to express their individuality and interests. Another student said he was inspired to get his nose and ear piercings by his role model, late rapper Tupac. Govender explained that all his piercing procedures are done with great care and professionalism. Those who are 16 and older can get their piercings done without parental consent. Before getting a piercing, customers are required to sign an indemnity form which must confirm that they are drug and alcohol free. The body can be pierced in a variety of ways and places. Ear piercing offers several different options such as the earlobe (lower and upper lobe piercings), the auricle piercing which is just above the lobe, the helix which is the highest outer ear piercing, the tragus and rook which is found towards the inner part of the ear and the industrial piercing, which is two piercings connected with a single straight piece of jewellery at the top of the ear. Inkspressions also offers tongue, lip, nose, septum-nose, belly, nipple and women’s genital piercings. The jewellery used for the piercings are made of surgical steel or plastic, which can also be used for a belly piercing. Inkspressions completes all piercings in a clean environment where surgical gloves and sterilised IV cannula needles are used by the piercer. All sterilisation and handling of equipment is done in front of the customer and used needles are disposed of immediately. ANY REGRETS?Many piercing enthusiasts describe the feeling of getting a piercing as relaxing and rewarding. “I have no regrets, I still love my piercings and I have the urge to get another one. Body piercings can be addictive,” said Pietermaritzburg university student Priya Singh, who has both tongue and ear piercings. “Body art is unique, it is special to you and your body. “Piercings can be a great way to express your inner creativity and feel good about yourself,” she said.