I visited a school recently on one of my speaking tours and saw something very disturbing…bite marks. You might be thinking, ‘come on, Vanessa, those are called hickeys!’ Oh, there was definitely bite marks on people’s necks. But, there were actually bite marks everywhere on their bodies.
The most common location was on either cheek and on chests right above cleavage. Boys had them on their arms and cheeks. I will be honest, it was a little surreal to see full bite marks on teen’s faces and bodies. Even more interesting was the fact that some of the bite marks did not even seem to be in ‘sexual places’ the upper arms, wrists and calves were also dotted with mini-bruises.
You are probably wondering what I was wondering…why? Of course, I asked them and posed the question to some of my teens, here are some answers:
1) An Action of ‘Care’
The girls said they loved biting their friends and boyrfriends because it showed that they care. For them, it was a real sign of affection and naughtiness all at the same time. When I tried to explain to them that this could be seen as abusive, they said that it is just another form of kissing, but everyone can see it.
2) A Mark of Love
When I asked multiple students why they had these bite marks, they said very proudly that it showed someone cared about them. Is this the new ‘notch in your bedpost?” One male student told me, “if you have bite marks it shows you probably have a girlfriend who likes you so much that she would bite you and show the world she likes you.” Wearing the bite marks shows that someone likes you enough to bite you.
Based on my research, this is purely a regional trend. A few teens had never heard of it and some knew of people who did it in their area. In the areas where it is popular, it is rampant.
4) Pain is Exciting
Some of the teens I spoke with at this High School also mentioned that the pain part of it is exciting. In her own words, “I used to cut, but I knew that was bad, this is another way of feeling the pain, but not doing anything too dangerous.”
5) It is Hardcore, but not Permanent
One of the girls also said that biting is better than piercing because it is not permanent. She also said that it makes her parents angry, but it goes away in a few days and she doesn’t let her friends bite her on her face, neck or chest, so her parents cannot worry that it is ‘sexual’ and therefore she doesn’t get in trouble.
Another worrisome aspect to this trend that teens hinted at, but did not state directly, is the idea that when you bite someone, they are at your mercy of how hard you go. When you bite someone you have also ‘marked’ them as your ‘territory.’ For teens where control and abuse is an issue, this trend might be a gateway? Might be a precursor? We will have to wait and watch.
As you can see, I left the quotes and observations for you here without judgment, because I do not know the ramifications of this trend and if it will take hold. But, my goal is to bring what I see in the teen community to you so that you can start the conversation in your own communities and with your own teens. This should definitely be a conversation starter with your family.
This post is dedicated to Karen Jashinsky, not because she bites, but because she is a kickass entrepreneur and loves helping teens. Good work Karen!
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