Children and body modification. Babies and body modification. Chances are if you have a little girl, you had her ears pierced when she was a baby. I mean, it’s not a 100% chance, but it’s a pretty high percentage.
Let me back up and preface this entire post with a couple of tidbits:
1. My husband is a tattooer, and was a piercer for many, many years. He still is on occasion, but that is not his main job function any longer. He has been “in the industry” since 1990. 2. I was (briefly) a piercer waaaaaaaaay back in the 90s. Briefly. Did I mention briefly?
3. We’ve got a fair few tattoos between us, and piercings as well. I think we’re down to 21 [piercings] between us, and 14 of those are in my ears alone, but that number used to be much higher. In other words, we know what we’re talking about. I’m not saying either of us is a current expert in the field, but I think we’re ahead of the general curve of knowledge. I am confident in giving advice, and confidant in the knowledge that the advice isn’t hurting anyone.
My little girl was nine before she got her ears pierced. This surprises a lot of people (see above for why this tends to surprise people). I feel like some of them are thinking “what, you didn’t have her pierced in the womb?” Insert Eyeroll Here. My oldest boy was eight. Which, at the time, surprised even more people. “Gasp! Your eight year old boy is getting both ears pierced? But he’s a boy.” Jerks. I’m kind of (absolutely) anti-baby piercing, and both kids decided that they wanted them done and when. I can’t say I didn’t ask, but I don’t remember forcing the issue or prodding one way or the other. In fact, E decided when she was 8, but she got scared once everything was set up and we didn’t do it that year. Having daddy pierce your ears (or not pierce them, as the day went) is super traumatic. Or something. The following year we had the owner of the shop Michael works in do them, and apparently he is amazing with kids and did them right quick with no drama.
What’s that? We sure did have them pierced in a tattoo & piercing shop. A nice, clean, sterile, health department approved, non-cross-contaminating place, with a trained professional. Not at all like that place in the mall with a disinterested teenager yielding a “piercing gun”.
I had my ears pierced at the store in the mall. You know the one. I want to say I was seven or eight. My gram took me. I think my cousin was there too. You know what I remember of that experience? I will swear, to this day, even though I know for a fact it didn’t go down this way, that the lady who did the piercing with the piercing gun stood at the other end of the store and shot the earring like a handgun. No lie. I also know that was the second or third time we went to the mall, because I full on chickened out the first time because that piercing gun terrified me.
My second set of holes (age 11) didn’t go much better, but my mom took me that time. I begged for a second hole. Pleaded. I probably offered to pay for them myself. Mom wound up getting a second hole herself that day. This led to a lifetime of poking holes in my body. By the time I was sixteen (fifteen? possibly fourteen?), I had self-pierced my ears something like twelve times. I pierced my lip, and my nose myself. I don’t recommend it anymore than getting pierced with a piercing gun by an untrained teenager making minimum wage.
But I’m not here to have that debate. I’ve been having that debate for almost twenty years. No lie. Nope, I’m here to discuss big piercings. Bigger than 18G (standard earring size). On kids.
As I said, my oldest had his ears pierced when he was 8, and we did them at a 14G knowing he wasn’t going to be swapping his earrings out. He is a boy. He wasn’t looking for a collection of sparking spangles to show off. He is 14 now, and has exactly three pairs of earrings. The original CBR’s he was pierced with, a pair of horseshoe barbells with spikes on the ends, and a pair of labret studs he swapped to for martial arts. He hasn’t changed them in three years. He might have a fourth pair, but honestly, I can’t remember.
My littlest is fairly recently 10 and as I said, she got her ears pierced last year. We did them at an 18G because I knew she was a going to be a sparkly spangly earring collecting kind of earring girl. Some days she changes them multiple times a day LOL Shhhh, so did I at that age. Remember those “ladders” with “buckets” on top that held like thirty pair of earrings and you put the spare backings in the bucket? I swear I had six of those. We got a larger version for E (I couldn’t find the darn ladder! I looked all over the place!) and she’s rapidly filling it up. I guess it doesn’t help that earrings are sort of the go-to “I don’t know what to get” gift for her.
Let’s talk Stretching. Yep, with a capital S. I started stretching my ears when I was around 14. I’m a hypocrite. I’ll own it. If my 14-year-old decided to start stretching his ears I would strongly caution against it. Strongly. So strongly. I’d put my damn foot down and outright tell him no. I try so hard not to tell my kids no. They’ll disagree, but let me tell you, I think I tell them no a whole lot less than most parents, at least when it doesn’t boil down to a safety issue. I’m sure it would lead to a long discussion about why I did something stupid and I’d rather he not do it at the tender age of anything under “I have a fairly secure, self-supporting career”.
Just for knowledge sake, stretching up to about a 0G will often shrink back down if you don’t blow it out while stretching, which is never a guarantee. A blow out happens with you stretch too fast, rip your ear, and scar tissue develops. Scar tissue does not shrink back down because it has almost none of the elasticity that your unscarred skin has. I blew my ears out going from around a 16G to a 10G, because I was 14 and I was stupid and I shoved it right on in there. Stupid. I’ll own that too.
My ears are a hair over 3/4″ now, and it honestly makes me sick to see kids in high school with big ears because what the ever loving fuck kind of job are they going to find? I get that “times are changing” but they aren’t changing that much, and I suspect it won’t be too long before that acceptance swings back the other way as well.
I feel the same way about idiot 16 year olds and their idiot parents who sign for them to get stupid tattoos that they come back to have covered up when they turn 18 because they weren’t old enough to make a decision about a tattoo at 16. Me too. I have pieces I got at 18 (and 19. and possibly 20.) that I want covered up because I’ve outgrown them. Three of them are on the same arm. And “public skin” tattoos on children? Again, what kind of job are you going to find? If you can’t cover it in short sleeves and shorts, it’s public skin. Not too many jobs, even in this new age of tattoo enlightenment, want an employee with tattoos. Aim beyond retail, people. Not that there is anything wrong with retail, or public service type jobs. I love “blue collar” jobs – I think they are the place to be. Cushy “white collar” jobs seem to be on the decline. You’ll always need an electrician or a plumber or a mechanic. I know plenty of lifelong retail workers. They hate it, but it pays the bills while they do what they love in their spare time. I worked straight freelance from 2000 to 2012, and it stood me in good stead. Then I was looking for something new to do and wound up working as a sort of cross between office manager/receptionist/front desk/payroll/thing for my daughters dance studio. They knew they were hiring someone with lots of visible tattoos and big ears and bright red hair (when it isn’t in desperate need of dye, when it isn’t busy being mauve ombre), but honestly, I look around when we’re out, and that’s just not the “type” most places are looking for. Establish yourself first, then do the fun stuff. I’m not big on saving things for a special occasion, every day is a special occasion and if you wait too long you may find that one day it’s too late, but some things you hold off on until the right time.
Example? We only dye my daughter’s hair in the summer, because it’s not allowed at school, and it’s not proper in the dance studio. At least one of those places is important enough to her that she accepts she can’t do it for nine months out of the year. She looks forward, without fail, every summer to some new fun color (she’s wanting red this year! I wonder wherever she got that idea?), but she knows that during the school year she can’t do it. Some fun things need a proper place and time. Tattoos, piercings, dermals, scarifications, tongue splitting, ear pointing, and a whole host of other major and minor modifications fall under that heading too, in my obviously not so humble opinion.