0:33 - Meet Francine
1:52 - Francine shares her piercing journey
5:30 - Francine and Jessica discuss how their peers perceived their piercings
7:45 - Francine gives advice to those who are afraid but really wants to get piercing
9:20 - “My piercings don't make me. I make the piercings.” - Francine
11:58 - Francine’s advice for someone who wants to get pierced but is afraid of the pain
16:25 - Francine and Jessica shares the significance of knowing the background of piercing
18:09 - Francine concluded the conversation by sharing her favorite piercing
“At the end of the day, your piercing should be for yourself and not for anyone else!” - Ann
Jessica: Hello, friends! I'm here today with Francine. They're a member of our Avanti community and I'm so excited to hear what you have to say about expression and personal transformation, but before we go anywhere with any questions, why don't we start by hearing a little bit about you?
Francine: You give my name. I'm 61 year old grandmother of three - two teenagers and one eight. I'm a retired nurse, military brat. What else can I say? Wow! I'm just a cool grandmother but yeah, that's basically my story. I lost my husband 11 years ago unexpectedly at the age of 45 years old, so that has impacted my life a lot, but life goes on.
Francine I Tessitore
Jessica: Yeah. That's absolutely terrible. I'm so sorry.
Francine: Other than that, I love going to your guys's shop at Washington Square. My 15 year old granddaughter, she's a avid shopper. If you guys to the shop now because tradition is trickling on down.
Jessica: Oh, that's awesome. I love the jewelry that you have in right now.
Francine: Oh, thank you. I don't know if you can see my ears but I got there. Yeah,
Jessica: That's awesome. What was your first piercing?
Francine shares her piercing journey
Francine: When I was a baby, my ears.
Jessica: Your ear lobes. Then what was next? You have a quite a bit of facial piercings and then a lot of ear piercings.
Francine: Oh, well, let's see. I get them myself. I did all of my ears except in the cartilage area and that was...I mean, I was a nurse so I knew what to do and surgical needles, they work wonders.
Francine: I get that and then I get my first nostril piercing. Actually, get both of these in here. I have another, the third one, but I don't wear that one in anymore, so it's kind of close up. I've been contemplating getting it reopened, but I'm just kind of, I don't know. So yeah, first it was the ears, nose, and then next one was my eyebrow. It was something I had seen not so much, just important the mostly because I've done a lot of traveling and it's tribal piercings and tribal tats and stuff and it always intrigued me but like i said, I was a military brat. I was brought up in a "very strict household" and yeah, so 18 was my breakout moment when I decided to do...in little steps can still think it was for the good because probably by...if I would have my way at 18, I probably would pin a pin cushion this tense sticks up tenure now. The first one was like I said, my mom got my ears pierced when I was a baby of course. Next was more piercings in the ear, then the nose, then the eyebrow. I got my tongue pierced that was an experience me and my sister got our tongue pierced at the same time and, I was always kind of...because of the kind of career I was in, I had to be very careful about wearing my piercings to work, but I have a rebel side of me and so in my day, when I was working with a bandaid here and a bandaid over my arm or bandaid here to cover up the tattoos and the piercings, but now since I see it so much being accepted in the medical field. I mean, I see doctors so I see nurses with tattoos and piercings, so they got the point, that people is going to evolve.
Francine: They're going to express themselves in different ways, and the way I look here does not define who I am as a person.
Jessica: Yeah, you're right.
Francine and Jessica discuss how their peers perceived their piercings
Francine: I guess one of my biggest plateaus now is my religion, church, God and Christ and I don't know if you know anything about their platform, but they're old school. Women look very modest in a lot of things. I've had to battle that with my piercings and my tattoos and I get drowned on a lot of times, but I told a friend of mine just recently I do I present myself like this one because I like myself. I like how I look. I do it again, in the church setting to let people know that your relationship with God has nothing to do with your piercings. Nothing. God does not judge what I have on.
Jessica: I love that.
Francine: Yeah, a lot of people is really amazed that they come to my church and they see I'm singing in the choir and I'm on the praise team and I'm the president of the choir. I'm like, Wow! They accept you? Yeah, because that has nothing to do with my God. That's it.
Jessica: That's awesome. I'm the daughter of a pastor, so I definitely understand that, and Oh, I love Jesus just as much as someone without piercings or tattoos.
Jessica: [inaudible 7:07] that were placed on my heart when they came out on my skin.
Jessica: That's a really lovely perspective. What advice would you have for people then, in the church who....I know that, from my experience, my friends experiences, there's a lot of fear that comes from making that transformation outside by getting piercings and what that does mean, because there's a lot of [inaudible 7:41] what advice would you have for them?
Francine gives advice to those who are afraid but really wants to get piercing
Francine: I know it might sound a little strange, but I feel like as long as you know who you are, you know your worth. As long as I don't want to get deep off until I tell you that God talks to all of us - that's what I believe. For me, the members of a church or even the minister or the pastor of a church can beat you about across your head, telling you, Oh! You got these piercings, they did that back in the old days and that was they were serving idle, give me a break. I'm not serving idle. I serve God. I know who I am. I know my value in God and it's just you have to have a tough enough skin to take it because maybe not so much now but when I first got into because I was brought up Roman Catholic so I don't know. I don't even know [inaudible 08:52] a stigmatism behind that in the Catholic church but when I got into the church of God in Christ, I got stares, I got looks, I got the whole nine yards. Oh, my god, everything but is...me myself, knowing yourself,
“My piercings don't make me. I make the piercings” - Francine
Francine: My dreads don't make me, I make them and my father's from Barbados, so as far as the dreads go, that's somewhat cultural. Even a lot of the piercings is cultural, so I really admire people who not only just get the piercings because it looks cool, but really dig down and see where the piercings originated, and why. There's always a reason to why people do things and my youngest son, he wants to go to New Zealand to get the old tribal with the old way that they do it in New Zealand and in the islands and stuff and I told him I hope you got some tough skin because it's not with no gun and it has no, but another thing I admire, I know you're too young to understand but the discrimination that a lot of people of color had about piercings, even in their ears, they got looked at, having braids or having dreadlocks or were afros or when your hair in its natural form, they got a lot of criticism back in the old days in the 60s, the 70s and the 80s. And now I'm seeing not the people that was doing this formation, but their offsprings now embracing wearing braids. It's not as uncommon to see a Caucasian woman with braids or Caucasian man with braids or dreadlocks or different types of tribal art on their bodies or piercings and stuff. So it's good how piercing and tattoos has entwined together. I really like that.
Jessica: I like that too. That's a cool perspective because it does. It's crossing cultural barriers and race barriers bringing people together.
Francine: True, right.
Jessica: That's really cool. What advice would you have for someone who wants to get pierced but is afraid of the pain?
Francine’s advice for someone who wants to get pierced but afraid of the pain
Francine: Know your piercer, see some of their work, talk to some of their clients and if a person is as good at their craft as they say they are, the pain will be minimal. I haven't experienced any outrageous pain in none of my piercings and I had I got some that's personal airy and I did not experience no extreme amount of pain, no. I think the pain comes from just the initial shock you feel what's going to happen to you, but a good piercer that's good at their craft, they explained the process to you number one, I've experienced that and so by experiencing it and then giving you the full in depth of aftercare. A lot of pain comes in the aftercare, if you don't do it right, you're going to have pain. You might have infection. So, I tell a lot of young people that I come across and asks about the piercing, I said getting the piercing, I mean, if you will to stick your finger with a real bad sharp knife, you feel the pain with anything, but it's how you take care of that after you get up done so I think the aftercare poses a big, big part of the puzzle. Yeah.
Jessica: Yeah, I agree. I've also found that I get freaked out about a piercing that hurts more. If I like build it up in my [inaudible 13:45]. I had my labret done and my philtrum done and my philtrum done, that hurt so much, but it was because I was so afraid of it happening and then with my labret it's like, Oh, I know what to do. I barely felt it. I was like, Was it over already?
Francine: Right. And when a person is afraid you're [inaudible 14:08], it increases a lot, too, so something that would be very easy to do, if you're afraid and all tensed up, it's gonna hurt 10 times worse, so I try to tell people relax, embrace the process and I mean, and as being a female, Oh, God, if you can handle monthly cramps, for those who had monthly cramps, you can handle that and you can handle childbirth, you can handle a piercing. Yeah.
Jessica: That's what I've told many of moms that. They come in with their kiddos or a newborn baby and they're like, can I do this? And I was like, Well, did you birth that? And I'm like, Yeah? Then yeah, for sure.
Jessica: This is nothing. This is like skinning your knee.
Francine: Yeah, it is. Yeah.
Jessica: Yeah. Papercut actually probably hurts more.
Francine: Right, Yeah. I think if you want something bad enough and you really, and it's not just what I call a hanging phase. It's all and that looks so cool and I think I want that, but if you really got a heart's desire and you want it, or at least with me, if I really want something, I get it. I'll get it done and actually, I think some of my tax was a little more painful than the piercings because depending on the part of your body that you have it, it can be pretty painful.
Jessica: Yeah, that's true.
Francine: And a tattoo opposed to piercing, a tattoo lasts for a couple of hours. Size of the of the tattoos, coloring, that lasts but a piercing [inaudible 16:16]
Jessica: Piercings over I am like, 50 second start to finish.
Francine and Jessica shares the significance of knowing the background of piercing
Francine: Right, and like I said, I've traveled a lot and I've seen so many different unique piercings and not only just piercing but body modifications, that different tribes in different countries do for whatever and it's like Wow! I don't know. I guess because of my background, I embrace all the kinds body modification.
Photo by Francine I Tessitore
Jessica: Yeah, it's amazing to learn some of the....not only the significance of it but the role it played in history. The stretched labret with the team that tribes here on the Pacific Northwest, you know?
Jessica: And how that impacted when I think it was the Spaniards came over and started creating colonies over here, and how that fall in their interactions. It's just very interesting to see all of that and once you start diving in, it's like you can't stop because there's like another new weird fact that you never would have thought of, and to dig deep. You don't come across those things walking down Downtown Portland in the Pearl District, you don't really come across any of that.
Francine: Right. Yeah.
Jessica: What is your favorite? Oops sorry.
Francine: Go ahead.
Jessica: Oh, I was asking what's your favorite piercing that you have?
Francine ended the conversation by sharing her favorite piercing
Francine: My favorite one? I think my specular I really like that because I can incorporate so many different types of piercings with it and then my eyebrow, I like that because like I said, I'm not just the run of the mill 61 year old woman so you know you [inaudible 18:41-18:42] different times of the week, you might see me anything stuck up in my eyebrow, and a lot of times I like to draw not so much draw, but I like to see the shock that people are like, Oh my god, what is she got in her ear? What is she got her nose and it's like, okay, I've opened up doors, maybe enlighten you it's that something but I like to shop treatment. I've never liked the run of the mill. I think that's what I didn't like about boarding school, Catholic school everybody looks the same at their uniform on, there was no difference. Everybody was the same, but I like variety. I like to see different things to different people and how they embrace it and stuff because I don't know it's just good.
Francine: It is good.
Jessica: Yeah. I just got my eyebrows pierced right before quarantine and I agree. I love them. They're awesome.
Francine: Yeah, they are.
Jessica: I like threading.
Francine: What I want to be - Yeah, I think I want it repierced. I got my tongue pierced...I don't know. I was going through a dark year and I got whole took them out. Took my tongue pierce for some reason. From this day, I can't really remember why I did it. I don't know, but I think I want to get my tongue repierced. I was even thinking about getting up there. Now, I do have a full here. It's so close to my brain and I'm like, I'm already dealing with a half a cup. So now [inaudible 20:26 -20:33] you know, I don't know. They looked at me kind of funny. Like, Mom, don't you have enough holes in your body and I'm like, Hey, even when I turn 65 by that time, you really don't care. I might put a hole straight through where I don't know but it's something I've seen and I've seen it on several people and they really rocked it with a good look. I'm like, I think I could pull that one off.
Jessica: I think so. I think that will look really cute there. Yeah, and you can use [inaudible 21:16] jewelry.
Francine: Right. So I don't know I might be...after all this COVID 19 despite disease, you never know where Francine might get a new piercing, you just never know.
Jessica: That's true. Well, I hope to see you in the studio.
Francine: I'm quite sure you'll see and I'm quite sure you won't forget me. You won't forget the face.
Jessica: Well, I want to thank you so much for sharing bits of your story, bits of your heart and I am looking forward to seeing you when this is all over so I can get to know you in person.
Francine: Okay, be nice to meet you in person. Same here.
Jessica: Well, thank you so much Francine. I hope you have a great day
Francine: You have a good day. Oh, stay safe and continue being yourself-your authentic self. That's what I tell people, be your authentic self each and every day.
Jessica: Thank you. You too. Thank you so much and stay safe and healthy.
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