Over the last fifty years, we've discovered that a lot of traits that we thought were exclusive to humanity, really aren't. For example, chimpanzees wage war, dogs have a sense of humor, and dolphins like to watch reality TV shows like Fin Factor.
One thing animals don't do at least, so far as we know is accessorize themselves. For example, you'd never hear the following conversation between cats:
Powderpaw: Hmm. Do you suppose if I spat in this kohl deposit to make it wet, and then applied it to my whiskers, that it would make them look longer and more feminine?Or for that matter, this conversation between dogs:
Muffin: Ooooh, definitely. Just don't let the human see you do that or he'll think you're having a hairball.
Rover: Hey Sam! Check out this bone I just found. I'm thinking of carving it with scenes of dog fights and then piercing my nose with it. I figure it will make me look more fierce. Whaddya think?Humans, on the other hand, are obsessed about their appearance. In 1997, pre-teens and teenagers in the US spent $5.3 billion on cosmetics designed to make them look older. In 2002, adults in the US spent $42 billion on products designed to make them look younger. In 2004, analysts predict that toddlers will enter the market in a big way, demanding diapers that look slimming and blusher to reduce the appearance of chubby cheeks.
Sam: Quick Rover, what's that over there?
Sam: [Crunch] Stupid ideas about perfectly good bones [munch, munch, chew]. Make you look fierce indeed. [Chew, chew, swallow.]
Tattoos are also very popular, as thousands of people who usually avoid the doctor or the dentist voluntarily submit to the tender mercies of skin artists named Bruno.
Previous generations of tattoo enthusiasts went for messages like “Ben & Becky 4Ever,” which have to be removed when Ben and Becky split up after two months. This generation feels much wiser, having gone for things like Chinese characters that are supposed to express messages of love or peace.
They'll feel less wise when it turns out they've been sporting an advertisement that says “Eat at Fu Lam City.”
Piercings are another method of self-adornment. While most people spend entire lifetimes actively avoiding things that will put holes in their body, some enjoy this sort of thing. Indeed, the human need for piercings has rather unfortunately combined with our competitive side. This means that in an effort to outdo their peers, people have become more aggressive in their piercings putting holes in bits that shouldn't be discussed in the same sentence as the word piercing.
This brings me to the latest fashion accessory: eye jewelry. I do not mean jewelry made to look like an eye. Nor do I mean jewelry meant to be worn near your eye. What I mean is actual bit of jewelry embedded in your eye.
Yes, it's true: people are paying perfectly good money to have glittery half-moons or hearts implanted into the mucous membranes of their eyes. The surgeons who developed the technique say that “So far we have not seen any side effects or complications and we don't expect any in the future.” However, I'm sure there are going to be some, including:
1. Half the people you meet will do a double take and make gestures at you, hinting that you've got something in your eye.I don't know why humans are compelled to coat themselves in chemicals, inject themselves with toxins, or poke strange things into their bodies.
2. The other half will not be able to look at you without having their own eyes water uncontrollably, and you'll get a reputation for making people cry. (This may be a positive thing if Barbara Walters ever retires and the network wants to replace her).
I just hope this is one trend that will be over… in the blink of an eye.
To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.