The two things to notice are the extreme shortness of my hair and the three metal objects in my ear. Lately, I've started experimenting, for want of a better word, with my presentation and body mods. I've dyed my hair red, bleached it, dyed it blue, shaved it right down to skin, let it grow back. Every four months, or whenever I have the money, I visit the tattoo-and-piercing studio and get something else done to my body: the tally so far stands at one tattoo and two new piercings, but I have great plans for more.
I'm partly doing it as a favour to my inner teenager. My chronological teens were a horrible mess of being bullied, pretending I wasn't going through estrogen puberty, experiencing horribly intense emotions, being told I was stupid and broken for experiencing those emotions, never understanding what my mind was doing to me, being punished because I couldn't shake this crap off well enough to concentrate on schoolwork, and generally feeling that life was more trouble than it was worth. In the last couple of years, I've been facing up to the fact that this was a bad thing that happened to me, and trying to heal myself. One tactic to that end is to let myself act like a teenager in minor ways. As if I was living my teenage years again, but with at least a bit of knowledge about myself and awareness that I'm an acceptable human being.
Part of it is also a way of asserting my control of my body. The very first piercing I got, back when I was 18, was a kind of dry run for transition - even though I didn't really understand what transition was or think it could apply to me. I was nervous about the idea of doing something to my body that, if I decided I didn't want it, wouldn't go back to exactly the way it had been. That's why I only got my right ear pierced - I wanted to keep my left ear unmarked, just in case.
I'm still nervous about making big changes, but these days I'm thinking of piercings as ways to make my body more ... interesting? Expressive? Eventually, I want five piercings in my right ear, so that I can make a five-ring ornament to wear on special occasions. And I want more tattoos, so I can write the story of my life on my body. I know plenty of people, with and without tattoos, who would laugh at that, but that only makes me more determined. Nobody else has to like what I do to my body. That's what it means to have autonomy.