EP024: Riley's Journey of Self Expression

putting your inside feelings just on the outside um so for me like not saying that i’m necessarily an artistic person but kind of putting like my own artistic feelings and aesthetic like onto the outside of my body is for me self-expression so that i can look in the mirror and be proud of like what i look like and who i am hello friends i’m here today with riley uh she’s part of the avanti community and i’m so excited to hear what you have to say about life and piercing and modification and self-expression um but before we go anywhere why don’t we start by hearing a little bit about you um hello everyone i’m riley i just turned 20 last week and i am a sophomore attending uh parsons university in new york however due to current circumstances i am back home in oregon with my family um yeah what are you studying i’m studying it’s a major called strategic design and management which is kind of just a fancy way of saying the design of business or business design so design strategies in the business world that’s cool yeah it’s really fun i’m enjoying it a lot uh what do you want to do with that no idea really i have a lot of ideas that i would like to do with it um a lot of options that i know come out of it are like art curating or even just like marketing and advertising but i’m also really interested in fashion and fashion marketing or even like costume designing in film or anything so i really have no idea just figuring it out as i go i remember when i went to college it was very much the same and i thought i was gonna go and do one thing and i ended up doing something similar to what i wanted to do but not at all what i expected right but it all comes to be you’re like oh this is a perfect fit yeah yeah exactly and i’ve had like struggle because i went to community college first and i was in la and then so i’m like changing around and so i feel like i’m a little bit closer to what i want to be doing i mean and the more you experience the clearer your picture gets anyways yeah exactly exactly hi so you’re here on a body piercing platform so why don’t you talk a little bit about um i guess maybe your first piercing uh my first piercing i think it was eight it was just my little earlobes and all my piercings are on my ears and then i have a nose piercing but it’s my first piercing when i was eight i never got him when i was like a baby my mom wanted me to make the decision for myself oh cool um so yeah so i think it was around eight ish is when i got my ears pierced what was that experience like can you remember it’s like 12 years ago um i went it was at claire’s okay i think i was really terrified because i was scared it was gonna hurt super bad um but i didn’t think it it hurt like at all i thought it was weird that you could hear it with the gun like you heard that like crunching sound and i absolutely hated that part um but i’m pretty sure i got diamonds in my ears because that’s my burst down oh very cool and then yeah i think my mom was like do you want me to hold your hand like are you okay and i’m like i’m fine like i got this like i’m good i’m a pro okay exactly what did what does um self-expression mean to you self-expression to me i don’t i think that’s kind of a hard one still like i keep saying that self-exp like i self-express through piercings or tattoos or anything um but i honestly think it’s about like putting your inside feelings just on the outside um so for me like not saying that i’m necessarily an artistic person but kind of putting like my own artistic feelings and aesthetic like onto the outside of my body is for me self-expression so that i can look in the mirror and be proud of like what i look like and who i am yeah it’s a it’s definitely a conduit for the that need to create if it doesn’t line up with maybe your skill set yeah yeah like i have a creative like need but sometimes i wish i could express that with painting or drawing but my paintings and drawings never turn out exactly what i want but you know how to be able to like pick the colors and look at a picture and be like this is this is my idea of art and then to look in the mirror and be like now i am my idea of art yeah exactly exactly it’s also

a huge part of i think becoming just becoming you know you talked a little bit about being in la and going to community college and then you know that development process like from little girl you know to a grown-up you know like oh i’m eight now i’m ready to start like taking my body into my own hands and then from there it’s just your body is yours it’s a great way to make your body yours yes yes very much so uh so you talked a little bit about being interested in fashion why i think it kind of goes with the same way of why i get like pierced or tattoos is because i think it’s such a beautiful way to express yourself and it’s i mean i think we have fashion norms and fashion statements but i also think it’s just a continued way to extend someone’s personality like on the outside um i don’t know i just think fashion is is so cool and i think it can be as crazy as you want or as tame as you want and it doesn’t necessarily like i have days where i’ll dress like not crazy but you know my style will like represent the 70s and it’ll be super hippie and then i’ll go into like a punk rock thing so i never think there’s like a certain set of style that you have to have which i like like i like the fluidity of it and that it’s super interchangeable um yeah i just think it’s really cool and it’s fun maybe that coincides with piercing specifically out of all body modification because it’s temporary so yeah yeah you can really make it as wild as you want you can do big clunky jewelry or you can make it very minimalistic and um delicate which is kind of fun it’s super fun yeah um before i knew avanti i also only thought that body jewelry was like one kind of thing you know it was like what you find at spencer’s where it’s always like you know it’s like always steel and it’s always like a little bit too big yeah yeah and you’re like oh you’re like i guess this is like what i should be wearing like you’d see people walking around with those perfectly fitted nose hoops and then i was always like how yes yes yes and that’s funny you say that because especially like when i got my nose pierced right now i have a stud in because my mom hates my hoop um but when i got my nose pierced she was like i don’t want you putting a hoop in because i hate when it hangs out of the nose like when it’s not like that fitted thing so every time i’ve changed it like i’ve made sure to go in so that someone can like fit it around because my mom was like i won’t like condemn it if you have one that’s just hanging out of your nose i’m like uh it’s fair right it’s like i mean it’s fair i think that aesthetic is fun but yeah it is its own thing but yeah when i was trained at ivanti i remember thinking what there’s not just one size what is that history yeah exactly exactly all right so do you have tattoos as well i do yeah you can’t i mean i’m wearing a long sleeve right now but i have eight tattoos um and they’re like pretty small like i just have like this little one which is like my taurus symbol and i have like little ones on my i have like a little one on my wrist i have a hummingbird on my arm um i have the coordinates of my childhood house on my collarbone like some really like they’re pretty meaningful or like i have two mountains and a wave on my hip because i have two brothers and so that like so all of them are kind of like they’re special to me and representative of family or times in my life that like have been significant that’s cool um did you do you have a different mentality when it comes to approaching a permanent modification um i did uh with my first tattoo i got it on my 18th birthday and it’s like it was super thought out i like knew what i wanted to get but i spent like months beforehand like figuring out the placement of it size and everything um and i guess with my piercings i got all of them before i turned 18 so i had to ask my mom’s permission and i and i had to like and she had to go with me and i i had to really think that out because of the facts my mom had to go with me and she always had to say well are you sure you want to do this um so i guess a little bit like because it’s on my body forever i i want to think about it more and research artists um

but i also did that with my piercings so it’s a little bit in between yeah yeah i’m sorry it’s i’m outside and it’s raining so hard i don’t know if you can hear that or not you hear it now that you said something i know right it’s not raining here where where an organ are you i’m in lake oswego oh i’m in beaverton it’s probably called i don’t know which way the ring travels maybe you’re getting it later i don’t know i just saw a nice background noise i don’t know nice soothing and nature sounds yeah yeah for anyone who’s listening who’s not familiar with organ it rains all the time yes all the time and it can rain where you’re at it’d be sunny here yeah that’s so crazy i was like it looks beautiful behind you it’s like all warm and sunny outside my plants are like sunbathing like that here like an hour ago too and then all of a sudden it’s down pouring now so it was really crazy in march when the pandemic first hit it like snoke okay i wasn’t here for that i like came home like two days after but i remember that because my parents were like it’s snowing here oh okay yeah it was super sunny and then i went to bed and woke up and it was snowing and then it was sunny the next day and i’m like what where’d that come from like so crazy like you never know no it’s it’s oregon keeping it that’s why everyone here is so laid back is you know you never you just got you just never know and you’re like an umbrella probably not like i probably won’t bring it maybe if it’s in my car but other than that what’s the point yeah exactly it’s something you carry all day then yeah um so did you have any preconceived notions of what a person with piercings and tattoos is when you were younger versus now that you are a person with piercing and tattoos um i think a little bit um i was super grateful i think my parents are a little uh they’re a little in between with the piercing and tattoos like i obviously got pierced like under 18 so i had to have my mom’s approval but there are certain piercings that she just still doesn’t feel like are appropriate which i understand so but i think when i was younger i mean i remember i did a halloween costume in like fourth grade and it was a punk rocker and we had like i had a fake eyebrow piercing and like a fake nose piercing and my mom like completely condone it like she thought it was awesome but she’s like if you ever do that in real life so i think i kind of had this notion that it was like people have this but i can’t have it yeah you know like it was okay that’s great for some people and like they’re allowed to do that but like i can never do that like that’s not me like that’s just not that wouldn’t look good on me or like even with a nose piercing i’m like i would never do that because like that’s great for that aesthetic but like that’s not me and now that i’m older i’m like it’s for any aesthetic or for any person and nose piercings and like facial piercings can look like completely different on one person than on another person um so i think that’s where it’s kind of changed like when i was younger i never really i don’t know if i thought i would be like as pierced and i mean and i’m not like totally pierced i don’t really have any other face or face piercings um but like the tattoo thing too or even with how many ear piercings i have like i never really thought that it just kind of happened like i said pictures and i was like oh that’s pretty like on pinterest or something i was like oh that looks pretty like maybe i’ll do that yeah yeah well and i think ear piercings are underrated they are serious modification like in my opinion i don’t have any like i have my doubles and the stretch flow but i can’t do any cartilage because i’m too finicky of a sleeper and i know yeah i have um two cartilage like i have two helix piercings up here and they’re okay i’ve only had one issue which is where like when i was sleeping one time the entire back went into my ear and i had to pull it out the front it was so disgusting um but luckily like they don’t hurt me that much but this one i have my rook pierced oh fine and i love that one it’s one of my favorites but that was the most like out of any tattoo or piercing that i’ve gotten like the most painful handstand that one’s brutal hands down and i love it and it’s you know super cute but i’m like that is but it doesn’t i mean

when i got it pierced and then when i got it changed from the barbell to the hoop it was super painful but now it doesn’t cause me like any pain nice i’m so thankful because i have so many friends who like you said like they’re so finicky with sleeping and it’s like and they get infected super quickly but i think i have like bionic ears or something so i just kept getting my ears pierced because i knew they would heal correctly yeah well it’s a hard one to heal um just because there’s so much that can go wrong with it and like sleeping on it can just easily like you know your peers like this but so many times i see people come in and they’re like my helix is out like this and i’m like oh no no and then like okay is there anything you can do about it when that happens like you can’t you have to pull it and re-pierce it yeah i know it’s i’m like i’m like people when they’re like i don’t have many piercings i just have a couple ear i’m like no like you have piercings like the same difference those and they take upwards of you know six months to even a year to heal oh i didn’t know it was technically that long yeah it they’re they take a minute they take yeah a minute a minute i kind of forgot because it’s like because i’ve got i have had these since like my sophomore year in high school and so i think it like i haven’t gotten any new piercings in a while so i kind of forgot like how that healing process works but it oh is there’s just a lot of blood flow so it takes a minute longer yeah just a minute just a little minute i i did like what you said about um growing up and feeling like piercings weren’t for you because i can relate to that you know i grew up in a very conservative household and i mean kind of like my dad’s a pastor and my mom would be like goth in high school so it was like definitely two ends of the spectrum where it’s like this conservative homeschooled family uh-huh but we were allowed to do pink hair right but not any modifications right okay okay just going on there but i remember feeling very similar to you like um it was this cool awesome aesthetic and i wanted it for myself but it felt out of reach and i felt then anytime i’d go into a tattoo or a piercing place like i was like an invader which is a weird feeling to have yeah i get that and that’s funny you say that you could have like pink hair but no modifications and my mom is like the complete opposite like i’ve never dyed my hair and even now i’m like oh i think i want to do like purple or something or like just the ends and she’s like no one’s like oh all right that’s so funny i mean you do have beautiful hair oh thank you i know and i’m like uh i have like so much i’m such an overthinker that i’m like oh if i diet then i’ll never get back to go to the natural color and then i’ll have to keep up with it and it’s all a thing but then i see hair like yours which is so pretty and beautiful and i’m like oh i want that but i mean it is true you don’t really go back i’m actually a natural redhead oh really i it has to be a color color because i just naturally am orange so there’s no coming back from that you know no anything else is like well i was already this colored it’s a very good way of looking at it very looking at it it’s like how i explained it to my parents so i’m already orange so yeah exactly you already have a color it’s another one one we’re just you know changing it a little bit uh what was i guess it’s been a minute since you’ve had a piercing but what was um if you remember the process like what did you think the process was going to be like versus what it was actually like um well so i have what how many i guess i have six lobe piercings which is what i all got at claire’s i got all my load piercings down at claire’s um and so when i made the switch from like doing it from a gun to a needle i had no idea what that was going to look like so when i went to avonte and like i actually went in and they like saw me down and they were like okay where do you want the placement of it and then they draw the little dot and they’re like do you like that do you want me to move it like it was just so thoughtful and there was so much more energy put into it that it actually like felt like a real experience instead of i’m just gonna go in and get a needle in my ear and then leave which is like what it was when i got it with the gun at

claire’s and so i think just like that whole switch made me change and so it was just like the thoughtfulness of it i think and i was like this is actually like an artistic practice that these people are doing and they care about how this is gonna look on me and how it’s gonna heal and what it’s gonna do so i thought that was really awesome and that’s why like i love starting to get pierced after that with an actual needle and like going in and doing something because i was like okay even if i’m not completely sure with what i want like i know they’ll be able to help me which is what i didn’t think i had at claire’s it was like oh i have to have it here and then they’re just gonna do it and then i’m gonna be done you know yeah i’ve been pierced at claire’s as well you know and then also really at many places with like the little piercing guns i’ve been piercing all of them but going into a studio like you know ivanti and that co-creative process i agree like it is so different to go from like oh it’s a teenager with a nail gun to like here let’s create this together and i know like whenever you know you come in or anyone comes in like i’m always like what do you want like yeah society we get invested our clients i was talking to one of our sales associates anastasia a week ago and i was like what do you miss about ivan she’s like i miss our customers like you know because you guys come in and you share bits of your life and it just it feels like friendship and so that’s what’s hard about this i guess this whole pandemic is i’m like where are you oh that’s very sweet yeah yeah i just want to speak to that on the other end of the counter you know it’s it’s as much of that co-creative process you know for me and for anyone in our piercing room as it is for you coming through the door right it’s just fun like who’s who gets to say like oh i haven’t like a co-creative art project with these random people yeah like from i mean you probably have like stories to tell for days about people who like come in so i think that’s awesome yeah it’s i it’s a very humbling experience i think you know and people go through in order to go through pain to feel okay with yourself says a lot for it itself in like that just that sentence you know yeah wow that sentence for sure i mean you spoke to it you know with getting your ears pierced and kind of like taking ownership of like this is who i am and i’d be curious to see um how your your view of yourself has changed you know now that that person who was super cool is you like was what was that like um i mean i don’t think i’m a cool person no i just think i’m like 12 all the time you know so i don’t really think of myself that way necessarily and even sometimes like i’ll kind of forget i have my ears pierced because i’ll keep it like i like changing out my earrings a lot but even now like for the past two months i left all my earrings in new york so i haven’t been able to change anything out so it’s like sometimes i’ll forget because i don’t like pay attention to them because i’ll just leave like the same ones in or whatever um so it’s kind of weird that sentiment because i’m never like wow i look cool today because i feel like it’s just become such a part of me at this point and i guess like out of anything it just like makes me just a little bit more happy when i look in the mirror like it’s just like a little bit like oh like right i have that and that’s like part of me now yeah yeah that’s cool yeah this is part of me now it’s true pardon me even when i got my nose pierced i had friends i was like do you notice anything like about me and they’re like i thought you’ve had that like forever like i don’t know what you’re talking about because i think like it was a part of my personality before i got it and like i had wanted it so bad and they were like oh like i thought you already had that and i’m like oh all right i love that yeah um i think like one of my favorite quotes was from this gal um who spoke like on my orientation day at college and she was talking about her hairdresser who’ve been confronted by an older woman about her tattoos and she said these were all these were on my heart before they came out of my skin and i think that’s a pretty true statement just to you know what i’m hearing from you and my own modification story is very much like you see people for who they are and your modifications are extensions of that person right right it makes it really easy to not see it anymore which i think is why society is changing so much to be more excited yeah i think that’s a very beautiful

statement and it’s i mean i still think you’re gonna get judgmental people everywhere and even you know a comeback of that statement like well then why couldn’t you just keep it on your heart but then it’s also like you know for me it’s always been i just want to be happy with what i look like too so like being a not that i’m not like i wasn’t happy before but like being able to modify it and just like add things to it has just made me feel like more confident than about having control of my body and my choices in that regard yeah um you’re a little bit muffled oh no oh no you’re back okay okay i didn’t hear everything that you said right oh no before i ask anything else i i just wanted to like add to that because that is you know like that’s a beautiful truth that you shared and i think that especially being you know female presenting and everything it’s there’s so much stigma on what your body is and what it can and can’t be and so this has always been a really nice way to be like actually my body is exactly what i say it is because i’m the person who’s wearing it right right it’s not any it’s not a politician’s church is anybody’s opinion you know not even your parents it’s yours exactly exactly and that’s still something i feel like i struggle with a little bit like i feel like i’ve been halted by getting started here things like because of that but hopefully that’ll change maybe it’s all a process you know have to live the questions for yourself you know right and it takes years to figure it out sometimes you and i yeah and you never really tru i feel like learn learning yourself and growing yourself takes your entire life so yeah i feel like i’m like reborn a new person like every five years even but it’s like nice because like the only thing that stays is like my piercings or my tattoos are like certain physical features i’m like emotionally i’m a different person but like i can still be the same yeah they’re like little mementos from the past yeah i’m like oh okay that’s nice yeah but like i also feel like i’m 12 inside so it’s what i’m like i’m a 12 year old but i did this this and this actually you’re like i’m a great 12 year old like i’m a very productive it’s a definitely self-esteem boost like all right yeah same as i thought it was a minute ago yeah exactly so thank you so much riley for you know joining the call and sharing your hearts thank you so much for having me yeah of course i you know i’m looking forward for when this is over and you gonna be in the studio uh before i let you go and enjoy your day is there any last bits of truth or perspective you’d like to share no i’m just so happy that you’re doing this platform so you know in this time and you know a lot of people can’t go and have self-expression to be able to talk about it and care about it have um communication with that i think it’s it’s so sweet and i think it’s so sweet you’re reaching out to all of us well thank you it’s it’s an amazing experience to learn from so many people and i love that sense of community of like oh yeah we can be you know the big of monty family even when you can’t see pasta you know we have to be six feet or more apart right which is not great for your business not so much well i hope you have a great rest of your day thank you you too bye bye