Sunday, 22 March 2009

To pierce or not to pierce?

My older baby is growing up, and feeling peer pressure for the first time. She's seven, and has decided she wants her ears pierced.

I remember feeling exactly the same way - that everyone else had their ears pierced but me - and I wore my parents down with a sustained campaign of nagging. Eventually, when I was ten, they gave in. I was so excited and overwhelmed by my entrance into the world of fashion that, shortly after the piercing, I fainted in a sorry heap on the street!

My daughter and I discussed the pros and cons of piercing. I said solemnly, 'You know, once you've got holes in your ears, they stay there for good'. She pondered this and replied thoughtfully, 'I can't think of any reason why I'd need intact ears'.

I don't even know why this bothers me. My life hasn't been blighted by the presence of a small hole in each ear. I enjoy wearing earrings. But this seems like the first of a lifetime of little bodily modifications a woman makes because she's not good enough as nature made her. I don't think my daughter's starting down a slippery slope that will end in yoyo dieting and boob jobs. I just wish she saw herself as I do: perfect the way she is.

14 comments:

The ex-expat said...

I went through the phase of wanting my ears pierced about the same age as did my sister. My mother told us both we weren't allowed until we were 16. While my sister on her 16th birthday promptly marched down to the local shopping mall to get hers done I still to this day have intact earlobes.

Anonymous said...

In my family it's like a coming of age thing. We have it done at 13, usually by a female relative who isn't your mother.

Instead of caving to societal pressure as you seem to paint it, we see it more as an acknowledgment that you are old enough to start making decisions about your own body.

OwhiroLady said...

I have three daughters who are now 21, 20 and 17. I agree with Anonymous that things like getting your ears pierced should be like a rite of passage. It's about anticipation and knowing that things happen at a certain age - in our house you were allowed, if you chose, to get your ears pierced at 13, you got your first eftpos card (and the regular allowance) at 14. It seems to me that it's important to have things to look forward to - to be marking the steps towards adulthood.

Deborah said...

I've told our girls they can get their ears pierced when they turn 16. They grumbled, especially my eldest, and demanded to know why. "Because that's what my parents told me," I said.

"Yes, Mum," said Miss Ten, "but how old were you when you got them pierced."

Damn, I thought. "Fourteen."

I will possibly relax that 16 rule, and like OwhiroLady and Anonymous at 8.53am, I may relent at age 13. We will see...

Azlemed said...

my two girls have yet to ask but it will happen lol. I was made to wait till 16, which seemed so old.

I am thinking my girls can get it done when they get their first period, sort of a celebration of reaching an important milestone rather than being ashamed about it all.

Metiria said...

We are at the point where peircings, shaving, botox etc is treated like buying new clothes. Its less of a invasion of bodily integrity that it used to be. The debate is now centered around our right to choose anything, including how we adorn ourselves. I dont think that is a bad thing necessarily but one we must be conscious of as the expression of feminism changes over time.

I avoided my girl getting her ears done for years by showing her the machine that does it- very scary and painful. She now, at 16, has three piercings in her ears. I expect more are to come.

Julie said...

I can't remember what age it was for my sister and I, but I do recall that from when I hit it onwards every xmas and birthday my sister would say she'd get my ears pierced for my present and I would decline. I think it was partly because I wanted to be a bit different, but also because I was scared of the pain, plus I'd watch my mother and sister both have endless problems with infections.

Eventually my sister stopped trying, and I stopped even thinking about it. Until I was getting married and realised I'd really like to wear my mother's diamond earrings as my something borrowed. Of course to do that I needed holes to put them through.

I knew a girl at primary school who had her lobes pierced pre-school, and in some cultures I understand it's considered reasonably normal?

I like the idea of having it done when you get your first period, as a celebration, and something to look forward to about an experience that can be very awkward.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't allowed to get my ears pierced until I was an "adult". It wasn't really clearly defined when that was but I understood from an early age that it was about being mature enough to make a real choice and I accepted that. In the end I got them done when I was about 20 because a friend had given me a pair of earrings that I wanted to wear. These days my husband doesn't like earrings so, apart from a period of about 5 years, for my whole life my ears have been a bit of a battleground :)

katy

hungrymama said...

I was nine and my mum said I could get my ears pierced if saved up my pocket money. Ear piercing cost $10 and I got $1 a week so she figured that if I could save for that long I obviously really meant it.

I have no problem with ear piercing once the child is old enough to make their own choice - it doesn't affect functionality and I know plenty of pierced men so don't feel the gender thing.

Azlemed said...

I know of several families where the girls get their ears pierced before the age of two, hubbys family is one of them.

I just dont want to inflict that pain on my girls, at that ages its not their choice to do it.

O can get his ear pierced when hes old enough... dunno if his dad will like it though....

Joanna said...

I was told that I was only allowed to get my ears pierced when I turned 12 - Mum's reasoning was that she figured I'd be old enough then to look after them, keep them clean etc. I think my older sisters both got their ears pierced when they were 13, and Mum got hers done around the same time, but only because she'd started a jewellary course.

I actually ended up getting my ears done when I was 10, as consolation for having to move to Japan. I imagine if I have kids the same rule will apply to them - I want them to be responsible enough to keep them clean and deal with infections, but other than that, I don't really see it as being much of an issue.

Mouse said...

I got mine done when I was 4; I really wanted them and my mother got hers done when she was about the same age. Never had any problems, but now I never wear earrings. The getting them done when your girl gets her first period sounds like a really good idea.

Ari said...

Anna- not being interested in earrings I wouldn't know for sure, but I was under the impression that it's possible for pierced ears to heal back if you leave out earrings and studs and similar for long enough?

So not necessarily completely permanent? *shrug*

Anna said...

If you leave your earrings out relatively soon after getting your ears pierced, they'll heal again (this happened to my nose, to my great annoyance). But after a few weeks, the holes become permanent.

Sadly, my daughter's realisation she wants earrings is actually related to a bunch of beauty image stuff - ie she's started talking about people needing to lose weight and stuff like that. So in her case, I don't see it so much as a celebration of growing up as I would if she was older. :-(