Pierced

What may have been a million years ago, I was the assistant manager at a Claire’s store. You know? That place where girls ages 5 to 15 flock to get their jelly bracelets, scrunchies and rhinestone jewelry for the Winter Dance? Why yes, it was like one of the Circles of Hell.

One of my many responsibilities – besides nabbing a six year old for shoplifting a $1.99 ring by “dropping” it in her shoe – was piercing ears. I hated it. It was about that time that such stores were permitted to pierce the cartilage, that hard part of your upper ear. Did you know that cartilage crunches? Yeah, you would know that if you got your ear pierced in that way, but the person doing the piercing can hear it too.

Worse than that was the piercing of a newborn girls’ ears. I’m sure if you took a poll, parents are probably 50/50 on whether they would or have, but I’m in the 50 that wouldn’t. I don’t know if my opinion was influenced by my less than one year stint at Claire’s, but I’m certain it didn’t help. Mothers would bring in their wee itty bitty one week old sleeping baby (I noticed that the policy is now at least 4 months of age) and sign the paperwork and then with the help of one of the other staff members, we would each hold a piercing gun in our hand, lining up to the dot of ink we marked earlier to make sure the holes were level and equal, and then 3, 2, 1 – TRIGGER! and pray to god neither of us went early as to startle the baby suddenly which would result in an uneven pierce. The screaming that would emit from the newly pierced baby was heart-rending, even in my still-single and child-free state.

I love nibbling on my daughter’s ears (and my son’s when he forgets to block me during our wishing of goodnight to each other), and not having to worry about the click of a stud on my teeth or the back of an earing getting sucked in accidently. I can certainly see the appeal of adding a little “pretty” to your little girl, but…*sigh*….

I guess I’m looking forward to when my daughter reaches an age where she starts to notice earrings and then as a big surprise for her birthday or Christmas, we take her in and create that memory together, like my mom did with me when I had my ears pierced by the family doctor when I turned 16.

How old were you when (if) you got your ears pierced? Have you or would you pierce your baby’s, whether boy or girl since I’ve now seen baby boys’ ears pierced as well.

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48 thoughts on “Pierced”

  1. I had to wait until I was 16 and I got them done at…Claire’s. I remember how they marked my ears and stood next to me, one on each side, with those guns. And how they counted and then one “shot” my ear just slightly sooner than the other and I kind of jumped in my seat a little bit.

    Now, I will forever re-write my memory of that experience and picture you as one of those women.

    If I have a girl at any point, I wouldn’t do it when she was a newborn, but I wouldn’t make her wait until she was 16 either. (By the time I got mine pierced, everyone else already had theirs pierced.) I have no set age in my mind though.

  2. I was 2. I’m actually pregnant with a girl and did research on it for when I decide to get it done for my daughter. I found that they say time and time again, that if you’re doing it for a baby, make sure you do it at the ped’s office since guns can’t be sterilized. That’s my intention at this point.

    Though I do understand the want to wait, our culture emphasizes earrings and such so much, I want to do this for my little girl. She she can wear the baby earrings her mother wore (my aunt wore them before me).

    1. Just to clarify about the guns used to pierce ears (in the states anyway): the gun doesn’t actually pierce the ears. The earring studs that are sterile out of the package are loaded into the gun (which we would swab down with alcohol after each use). The earring stud does the piercing, not the gun. The gun just shoves the earring through and into the backing, which is also sterile.

      Mina, you wouldn’t want to use your family’s earrings until after the stud holes have healed which will be sometime 6-8 weeks. The reason I believe you would be referred now to your peds is that piercing stores, like Claire’s, have changed their policy to a minimum age of 4 months.

      I’ve seen boards post how guns can’t be sterilized and that data is misleading as it indicates that the gun pierces.

      1. Interesting to know. And I definitely wouldn’t use the family earrings right away. They’re actually little hoops so I would want to wait til my daughter is old enough to not pull on them too much or her ear is healed completely.

  3. I was about 5 when I had them done. I had really wanted them and finally my parents said yes. I remember going with both my parents and it was so exciting! That summer I lost one of the earrings and the hole closed up, so I had to have that side done again. I love having pierced ears and it has allowed me to dress them up elegantly, funky and everything in between.

    I have a 3 year old son who has not expressed any interest in getting his ears pierced, but if I had a daughter, I might suggest she wait until 8. Waiting until she can be responsible for cleaning them and taking care of them herself would be a good idea. It would depend on her personality, too. I definitely wouldn’t do it as a baby. It will be neat to see what Z-girl wants!

  4. I think I was 6 when I had mine done the first time (12) the second. With Kelsey, I wanted to wait until she was a little older, because mine got infected, and I just figured it would be better if she was older. HOWEVER – I also used to get her the most adorable pixie style haircut, and some stupid boy at daycare kept teasing her, saying she was a boy. Well, the kid was bugging her a lot, and Kelsey was due to be the flowergirl in my brother’s wedding. My SIL-to-be had pretty much mandated that she wanted Kelsey’s hair the same way (bridezilla), so I had to take her to get her hair cut one more time, even though Kelsey absolutely DID NOT WANT IT. She sat on the big old frog at Garbo’s, tears streaming down her cheeks, as we got it cut. I felt like SUCH a jerk. SO I told her we’d get her ears pierced, because then the boy wouldn’t be able to say that anymore. And all was well.

    With Chloe, however, we will probably wait until she’s at least 10.

  5. Rosey has three little friends who have their ears pierced (she’s five) and she likes their earrings SO MUCH BETTER than the army of clip-ons my mother has sent her….I would never have thought I would say this, but it looks cute on her primary (kindergarten) age friends – we’ll probably wait until seven or eight, though.

    Yeah. Funny, that. We didn’t cc Cass and yet I’m ‘meh’ to the thought of shoving metal through my daughters earlobes. Makes you think.

  6. How did I KNOW you were a Claire’s girl?? I was as Third Key at 2 different stores – yeah, I’ll wait for the excotement to die down. (Although apparently not cool enough to make Asst Mgr… hmmm)

    Funny how ear piercing brings us all out of the woodwork. I was 10. Daddy was definitely on the “you’ll look like a hooker with holes in your ears!” bandwagon. He made a deal that if I got straight A’s all 4 terms in 4th grade, I could get them pierced. Heh… never underestimate the power of a ten year old. I got a second hole on the left side only – shared a piercing w/ my sorority lil sis. (Again Claire’s… you gotta buy the pair. She only wanted one hole and they had the extra earring left over. NICE)

    1. High Five, Sistah!! Didn’t you hate running that hourly tape to document what the average sales totals were?? Even now when I pick up hair stuff for Aitch, I add it up in my head to make sure it’s over $10 to help the store’s averages.

  7. I was in the third grade. It was a total bribe from my parents. Unfortunately I REALLY struggled to quit thumb sucking and this was the one thing I wanted. I had to sit on my hands for an entire month, but finally kicked the habit (one of the reasons I never became a smoker, because hell there was no way I was going through that again!)

    No I would never pierce my babies ears. They get stuck enough at the doctor. Plus I really just don’t like the look. Babies look so innocent and earrings just kind of take that away a bit for me.

  8. I was six. I started asking my mom around age 5 and she made me ask for a year to be sure that’s what I really wanted. But I also had to have them redone when I was 8 or 9. I got a second hole around age 12 and a third hole in one ear around age 15. No, I’m not still sporting that look. I have my belly pierced too, but I was 19 for that.

    I do not pierce baby ears. My oldest got hers done at 7- after she had asked for a year. And yes, we went to Claire’s 🙂 We went for a brownie blizzard from Dairy Queen afterwards. I’ll do the same with the youngest.

  9. My fifth birthday. It was a present from my grandmother- I begged for them!! Then when I was 10 I got the second holes, and at 13 went against my mother’s wishes and got the cartilage done in one ear. I still wear all of them quite often, except for in the last year- I had to take them out for something at the hospital and I broke the hoop I wore in the cartilage piercing and haven’t managed to find a decent replacement.

    My daughter was just over two when she decided she wanted earrings. Being a broke-ass single mom, I told her she had to wait until mommy got money later in the week- so she went to gramma… Gramma offered to pay, so off we went. She kept them for three weeks and then lost one while in traction (worst summer EVER) and we couldn’t find the earring. By the time I had a replacement the hole had partially closed up and my already excessively traumatized and pincushioned toddler was NOT having any of it. So I just took out the other earring. She got them re-pierced when she was 6- and now likes to “borrow” mommy’s earrings… only problem is, she doesn’t always give them back!!! lol

  10. I was 10 it was a getting to double digits big ta da present for my birthday, I don’t like babies having their ears pierced my niece had hers done at 3months since it’s considered the “norm” by my SIL’s culture. I think when bellablob is 10 we’ll get them done IF she wants them as her double digit present. of course if jackyblob wants his done then it’s fine by me but for niether will it be on a passing whim iykwim.

  11. I was 14, forced to wait WAY beyond what I wanted to. My younger sister got hers done at 12. Bitch. 😉 Of course now I, like Molly, only wear earrings about twice a year, on really dressy occasions.

    I really don’t like the look of earrings on babies, male or female, and as you said, wouldn’t want to cause that pain (nor have the earring maintenance, honestly) to my baby. We also decided against CC for our boys for similar reasons (well, the pain anyway) (and at the time no clear evidence on infection rates). I guess I get parenthetical when it’s too late at night! Good topic!

  12. I had mine pierced when I was 6 (and my sister at the same time when she was 5)…I begged for it, we’d recently moved to Spain where I was the only girl in my class that didn’t have pierced ears. They pierce (or did) at birth there.

    Would I pierce a baby? No way. But if I have a daughter and she’s asking for it, sure. I had to have mine repierced multiple times over the years, got second holes, cartiledge pierced, bla bla. Everything has closed up except for the first and second holes, and I never wear anything in the second holes. Except by accident if I put an earring in the wrong one when I’m not paying attention.

  13. If we had had a daughter, she would decide if and when she wanted to have her ears pierced. It amazes me that people who won’t have their son’s circumcised will have their daughters (and many times their sons) ears pierced.

    I bought self-piercing earrings when I was about 15 and did it myself. Those suckers HURT.

    1. AHA! I was wondering when someone might bring this up: circumcision. Go back through the comments and pretend we are talking about that instead. We CC Doodicus and didn’t give it any thought. It’s just what they did routinely. However, I got a little squeamish when I heard that the CDC wants to make it mandatory citing health reasons. I’ll be honest and admit that if we had to actually think about our decision in 2001, I would have OK’d the procedure based on the fact I wouldn’t want him to look “different” then the majority of his peers.

      Didn’t I put my newborn through unncessary pain and discomfort callously but here I am judging a parent who pierces their daughter’s ears?

      (Kellie, my questions are rhetorical and not directly toward you, but to anyone who might read this.)

  14. My best friend and I had ours done together, by a doctor, as a joint 8th birthday present from her folks. I have no recollection of having any particular interest in having them pierced before that, but maybe I did.

    As for other people and their piercings (or the piercings they foist on others when the others have no ability to object), I personally want to be sure my child is making a conscious decision to do it, but I recognize that other people feel differently and while I find it odd to see piercings on babies and toddlers I have learned to live with it (and only judge a little. silently).

  15. I was in fourth grade, whatever age that is – and mine were done by the doctor. I have since had piercings in my ears at the mall and from a professional piercer. The gun is not my favorite, because it is startling and yes, it does crunch.

    The Boy and I have talked about getting his ears pierced. I would happily do that for him – but not at the mall – and when he has it firmly set in his mind that’s what he wants.

    No, I would not pierce my baby’s ears – but in some cultures (my son’s included) it’s considered a gift for a relative to pierce the girl baby’s ears.

  16. Getting my ears pierced caused me to get grounded…the only time I ever was. My mother had told me under NO circumstances was I to get pierced ears, because only “tramps” did that. (In her defense, I guess in her day, the ladies of the evening were the ones that had the holes in their ears, and the nice girls wore earring that pinched and made your lobes numb).

    So one Saturday, when I was 15, I took off with my best friend, took two buses and went downtown to the only jewelry store that didn’t require parents permission.

    I ended up going on a date with the son of the owner. I realized he was an ass when we were in a movie and he grabbed my hand and put it ON HIS CROTCH.

    Sorry…got a little off topic.

    Anyway, I got grounded for a month.

    Fast forward 10 years. I went with my mother to get HER ears pierced, then made her buy me lunch.

  17. My mom took me and my best friend (with permission slip from her mom) to the makeup store in town, Merle Norman. I think we were in 2nd grade, but I’ll never forget how excited we were! If I had a daughter, I would want to make that memory with her and make it a special mom-daughter day.

  18. I was 9 when I got mine done, after years of begging my mom. The holes got infected and I was miserable until we figured out that I’m allergic to anything but 14 karat gold. That kind of limited my joy in earrings since lots of them are sterling silver. Luckily it seems like I’m growing out of that. I added a second hole when I was teenager. A friend had a father who was a nurse so he pierced my ears with a needle in their bathroom. He was AWFUL at it and I still remember how much trouble he had getitng the second ear even. I got tired of the second hole eventually and let it close up.

    I don’t have a baby girl but I would never pierce her ears as an infant if I did, for all the reasons you mentioned. I just think it’s mean.

  19. My mom made me wait until I was 13 to get my ears pierced, and JESUS did we fight about that! And now I wear earrings maybe twice a year.

    I got my second hole in each ear at my all-night senior graduation party — a way to encourage the 700 some students in my graduating class to refrain from drinking by hanging out in their old middle school doing wholesome activities like playing volleyball, getting their fortunes told, and evidently getting their ears pierced. I suppose it’s better than a DUI.

  20. I would not have been able to do that job. Not for the newborns, not for the 6 year olds, not for the 36 year olds (were there any?). Kinda needle-phobic.

    I had never thought of it from your perspective. Yikes.

    I was 19. My daughter, 8, has just started asking. I’m holding out for 16, but I’ll settle for 12 (don’t tell her).

    1. Yes, we had ALL ages including grandmothers getting their ears pierced for the very first time. FYI Harrison Ford got his ear pierced in a Claire’s and he was no spring chicken then.

  21. 27. Yeah, I was too scared to do it earlier. And no, I would not pierce an infant. LK wants his ears pierced, and his dad said he could when he was 14. That sounds reasonable to me.

  22. I was 6 or 7, with a pair of heirloom child’s earrings from my paternal grandmother that my mom desperately wanted to see on me so a neighbor nurse did it with a hypodermic needle and a POTATO for backing. The second hole is a little off, since I was screaming so much from the use of a POTATO. Did nobody have a freakin’ ice cube handy?? It was the 70’s…you would think one of those moms present could have slipped a cube out of their Tab or Gin and Tonic to do it right. I used to think I would rather just get my daughter’s ears pierced when they were babies, since they wouldn’t remember it, but then I HAD baby daughters. Now, I think making it a special “treat” and their choice is the way to go. Too much bling too early on little girls anyway, IMHO. Oh, and I always had infected holes when I was little, because I don’t think they healed right or I didn’t clean them right or something.

  23. I had to wait until I was 13. And I have definitely not poked any holes in my little girl. We saw a girl her age at the mall recently with pierced ears and she has a LOT of questions for me about it, since I’ve told her earrings are for when she’s bigger.

  24. I was 7 and they eventually got infected and crusted over and closed up. Same story again when I was maybe 11. Then I got them done for the last time when I was 15 or 16. I got them done at the fair. They aren’t even. I have been wearing the same earring pretty much since my mom gave them to me for my high school graduation. When I was 22-ish I got the cartilage pierced – two right at the top of my left ear. I haven’t worn anything up there in ages, but I think they are still open.

    My girls can get their ears pierced when they start middle school.

  25. I was 13. It was a rite of passage in our family. I got the 2nd done at 16 and the 3rd at 18 and a second time some point later. Now I just wear 2 in each ear.

    I’m iffy on earrings on baby girls. I think it seems like such a weird thing to do. I’m against piercing baby boys’ ears. Now before you ponder who would do that, I was on the bus one day and this woman commented to another woman with a young toddler (around 18 mo maybe?) what a cute daughter she had (based on both ears being pierced and wearing generic jeans and toddler t-shirt and vaguely long hair). Nope, the mom replied. This was her son. She decided that since he liked earrings so much he obviously wanted them and had his ears pierced. That’s just weird to me. As for boy children, if they want them sure, but they’re getting both done and never ever wearing fake (or real) bigass diamonds in them because I think that’s tacky.

  26. I was four and I really don’t remember getting it done. I have vague memories of the process, but not the actual event. Probably for good reason.

    I just think that piercing an infants ears is selfish. I don’t know, maybe that’s highly opinionated of me, but it’s like, you hate watching them get vaccinations, why would you put your kid through that unnecessarily?

    I’ll be waiting until she’s old enough to make the decision herself. If it’s at four and she really wants it done, then I’ll let her. But I really want her to be able to understand what they’re going to do before she gets it done.

  27. I had it done when I was seven for the first time. I don’t even recall asking to have it done. But it was done and I didn’t take care of them, so we took them out and the holes healed up. Then when I was eleven I asked and there was little drama about it.

    I had a second set pierced in college but it never healed right no matter what I did so I let them grow over.

    I would not pierce a baby’s or toddler’s ears. I think it’s just something a kid has to really want, and they have to be prepared that it will hurt for a bit. Doesn’t seem fair to just spring it on an unwilling person.

  28. I was about 8. My mom said we couldn’t get our ears pierced until we were old enough to care for them ourselves. When I was 10 or 12, I got into a wrestling match with my sister (OK, fight), and my earring was pulled down, and pushed halfway through my earlobe. Now, my carefully placed earring holes are not even, and one side looks like it’s about to break through at any time.

    I’m against piercings in babies – I don’t think they should have to experience anything painful if their parents can prevent it.

  29. I was 10 – and I remember it well. My mother had a “friend” who was a nurse and offered to do it for my birthday with a needle, an ice cube and a potato. wtf?

    Cassie was 3. Now – before you cringe, she begged and pleaded her case in such a grown up manner, I consented. Not one tear was shed and she ALWAYS let me take care of her ears and she never broke one rule I had about what she could or couldn’t wear. She was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. about it. I have no regrets – she truly wanted it done and was more mature then than she’d be now at 17.

    I think each kid is different, and should be treated as such. I think babies look adorable with pierced ears, but I wouldn’t do it until they *knew* what the deal was. I would have refused to do a sleeping newborn.

  30. Oh what a story I have about ear-piercing.

    I was in 6th grade, my sister in 4th. One afternoon, Mom says “Let’s go to the Mall.” We’re all bershon & say, “ok…whatever.” We roll our eyes but get into the Country Squire station wagon and off we go.

    We get to JCPenny’s and head to the jewelry counter. That’s when Mom tells us that we’re getting our ears pierced. YIPPEE!!!

    We get our dainty little gold studs and we’re the hottest bitchez in Bell Avenue Elementary School, baby.

    Later that night, my Dad calls home to “check-in” He worked 3 – Midnight shift at Westinghouse and called every night around 9ish to make sure all was well at home.

    Mom told him that she got our ears pierced. My Dad was HOME by 9:30. Stormed up the steps and woke us up yelling “TAKE THOSE DAMN THINGS OUT OF YOUR EARS!!!!” Me & Sandy cried and cried the way that only a prepubescent girl can. I could hear Mom downstairs telling him, “Bill, if you could have seen their faces today. They were so excited and happy to FINALLY get their ears pierced, all their friends have them, now listen to them up there with their little hearts broken. They’re crying their eyes out!” We got to keep our earrings with the caveat that there will be “NO DANGLY-HOOKER-TYPE earrings hanging from my girls’ heads, EVER!!!” Ok Daddy. We won’t.

    I now have 3 holes in each ear, but I only use the 1st. It’s been a long time since I’ve worn more than 1 pair.

    Maggie can get hers done whenever SHE wants. She asked for them at 5, but one of her girlfriends told her that it hurt, so she chickened out. Joe says she can get them pierced at 18.

    I don’t like piercing on babies. My pediatrician offers it in his office, so if Maggie chooses to get it done, we’ll do it there with a guy I know and trust, not at the Piercing Pagoda in the Mall.

    1. My dad hated any thing that dangled or hooped. By the time I had moved out of the house, I was wearing earrings the size of pancakes. I still have some that I look at and wonder WTF?? The 80s was cruel in every fashion sense possible.

  31. I’m almost exactly the same as Thalia except my mother made me wait till I was 16. In the time and place she grew up only “loose” girls had pierced ears. Interestingly her very respectable grandmother had hers pierced so my mother had converted some rather lovely vintage earrings to clip-ons.

    Well, during the 6 weeks I had to wait to change my earrings while the holes healed open, my mother had decided it actually looked OK and got hers done. I was so mad – I’d been waiting for years with my mum telling me it looked awful.

  32. I was 10 or 11, and it was a treat – think for good grades or something in 5th or 6th grade. I was thrilled to have it.

    And I feel the same way you do. O can pierce an ear if he wants, but it’s because HE chooses it. Not me.

  33. I was 10. My parents always said I had to wait until I was 16 (my dad hated pierced ears) but after they got divorced my mom let me do it as an eff you to my father. Heh.

    I let them pierce Sabrina’s ears in Guatemala when she was 4months old. Steve and I went back and forth about it and finally allowed it because it was a cultural thing there and her foster mom wanted to do it as a gift to her. Our pediatrician harassed me every time we saw him by telling me how many times he has had to fish a back or a stud out of a nose or throat. I politely smiled. Then my husband gave her a bath one day and lost one of her jade earrings while he was drying her hair. She wore 1 for awhile because I couldn’t find any baby earrings with the safety backs. Then the other one fell out one day during her nap. I decided that I wasn’t going to replace them after all. While I didn’t want to actively take away the gift her foster mom gave her…I thought it was odd to have a baby with pierced ears. So she wears no earrings…I don’t know if the holes closed up (they’ve been out for about 8 months now so probably) but some day we will do it again and talk about the first time she had them done.

    And let’s not talk about what I found out about HOW they do it down there after she had it done. The pediatrician’s wife did them at his office I was assured. But no one told me that she did it by pushing the blunt (not pointy) earring through her ear with brute force rather than using a needle or piercing gun!

    1. The piercing guns actually pierce by pushing the stud through the lobe and into the backing. While the studs have a “little” bit of a point on them, they are pretty blunt as well since you don’t want the back snugging up and then the back poking you in the neck when you lay on your side. So they probably actually do it the same way in Guat as they do here.

  34. I was 14 – I then added two more to one ear lobe myself! Just pushed it through – it didn’t hurst much to my surprise. Almost never wear earrings these days. Would never do a baby’s or anyone under 12 i think. No problem with boys with earrings.

  35. My dad made me wait until I was TEN, which I thought was horribly cruel.

    My daughter is 7 and just got her ears pierced in October. It was a spur of the moment thing (“Hey, want to get your ears pierced?” “Uh… okay!”) which I think was probably the way to go, as the anticipation of it would have been the worst for her.

  36. I was 15. I had been wanting them pierced since I was about 12 and my friends at school started to have them done, but my mother thought it was ‘common’ and said I had to wait til I was 16. Then at 15 I had to have an operation, and mum allowed me to get them done as compensation. Now I think Pob should wait at least until she is 15. We’ll see.

  37. I was in 4th grade when I got my ears pierced, so about 10 years old. I was talking about piercing babies ears with my mom recently (I’m against it) and my mom said “it’s their body it should be their choice.” And that just seemed to be the most sensical justification. What if your daughter doesn’t WANT pierced ears? And the “just let the hole close up” argument doesn’t fly with me because when I was about 15 I got one ear pierced twice then a few months later realized how dumb it looked and never wore an earring in it again. I STILL have that hole in my ear – 26 years later.

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