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With men, it started as a souvenir of places and things you'd done, sailors would get a tattoo from Hong Kong or exotic places, Marines would do the same, or get tattoos showing they'd made it into the Marines. Very few of them would go nuts with it, tattooing their entire arm, or their faces. Those that did that would usually find work in traveling freak shows. And women did not tattoo at all, it was looked on as a blemish on their bodies.
Piercings were limited to earrings, and with the exception of professional sailors, men did not get them. The only reason sailors would was because it was traditional, with a single gold earring being the cost of a Christian burial, if their bodies were to wash up on shore.
Then faggots started to get piercings to signal to other faggots they would buttfuck, and then the media pushed everyone into thinking it was "normal" to shove the equivalent of a bone through your nose, while those pushing the idea laughed their asses off when they saw you looking ridiculous in public.
Now it's out of control, and it still looks terrible.