"Your necklace may break, the fau tree may burst, but my tattooing is indestructible. It is an everlasting gem that you will take into your grave."
-Verse from a traditional tattoo artist's song

             Standing behind the counter at a local bead shop, surrounded by African tribal masks, trays of beads, and various artsy/traditional objects, she is hooking wires into little loops to hold strings of beads. Her tiny, dark hands move smoothly, yet quickly as she bends the wire. She is short, no question about it. Her skin tanned by her Mexican heritage. Her dark, curly hair is curled up tightly in a bun; if it were to fall down it would reach all the way down her back. She speaks Spanish but an accent is not audible: she prefers to speak Spanish with a "white girl" accent. Her features are delicate yet strong. Her back is covered with three butterflies, ivy and the word Karma. Her tongue is pierced. Her ears have several holes and stretched earlobes. Her hipbone brands a tiny black butterfly surrounded by three 3's. The colors of her tattoos stand out beautifully on her dark skin. She is a soldier for the Air Force National Guard. She is Venesa Bombard. Her body is her canvas, her journal.

            My introduction into the body modification community started while I was young. Both my parents are tattooed and I never viewed it as something that was taboo. The reasons behind it seemed simple to me until Venesa became my best friend. I began to question why people chose to pierce their flesh, inject ink into their skin and all the various other things you can do. I began watching shows on body modifications, learning about its history and it's societal meaning. My passion for the subject began forming itself on my own body once I turned 18. This paper is not about me, it's about all the other people who have taken the journey to turn their bodies into their journals.