My Daughter Wants Pierced Ears

My daughter, who’s eleven and a half, is planning to pierce her ears when she is twelve. She’s been begging me for permission for years. I’ve been stalling.

My mother wasn’t allowed to pierce her ears because her father thought it was unseemly. My grandfather–who drank too much and talked too loudly–also believed only prostitutes wore anklettes. But when I was in second grade, my mother and I went together to get our ears pierced. I must have been seven, she was 38.

I’m not sure I even wanted pierced ears. But my mother did. And she wanted company.

A few months later she took me on a work trip to Toronto. We stayed with a friend, a scientist who wore billowy skirts and a scowl. My mom’s colleague had a parrot. I was fascinated by its sharp black talons, riot of colorful feathers, and cheerful, taunting squawks. While my mother worked, I played with the parrot. Our hostess let me take the bird out of its cage. It stood on my shoulder, careful not to dig its talons into my flesh.

But there was one thing the parrot couldn’t resist: the small sparkling gem on the lobe of my ear.

The parrot craned its neck towards my earring, pecking at it with its sharp beak. The first time I giggled. The next time it hurt. The third time I had to take out my earring because it was getting infected. Since the piercing was so new, the damaged skin closed back together to heal itself. I was seven years old and had one earring, like a pirate or a teenaged boy.

Part of me thinks to pierce your ears is a bodily mutilation, which it is. You put a hole in your flesh and insert a metal object into it. When a young man pierces 25 places on his face, most of us find it disturbing or even disgusting. How is putting holes in our ears or our children’s any different?

I re-pierced my ears at the mall years later. A gun at my lobe. Hold still. This will only hurt for a second. On the count of three. One–two–then a sharp and unexpected pain as the stud perforated my flesh.

This time I took better care of my ears. I cleaned the wounds three times a day with alcohol. They crusted over with infection but healed quickly.

I love wearing earrings. I love long dangling ones, big bold hoops, the gold filagree with rubies that my mother bought me for my wedding. My grandfather on my father’s side was a jeweler. Every time I wear a pair of earrings that he gave me I remember the pleasure on his face when he showed me his collection, his pouty lower lip, and the way he loved to make salads.

Still, I can’t help wondering if vanity is a good reason to cause your body pain? If the chance to wear earrings is worth putting holes in your flesh? There are always clip-ons, which is what my mother wore, for special occasions.

I’ve told my daughter that she has to decide who will pierce her ears (a doctor? a teen at the mall?) and she has to pay for the procedure with her own money. She can’t wait. I have beautiful family earrings that will someday be hers. But I look at my daughter’s perfect smooth lobes and I wish she would change her mind.

At what age do you think it’s okay for a parent to pierce a child’s ears? Do you have pierced ears? Do you wish you didn’t? I’m eager to read your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below.

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68 thoughts on “My Daughter Wants Pierced Ears”

  1. Kate (6years old) has said she wants her ears pierced. She is such a tom boy that I am so excited she is considering it. I feel in this case it is her choice. I wouldn’t let her have a tattoo before she is 18 but I am comfortable with pierced ears at 6, if that is what she wants.

  2. One of my favorite memories of growing up was going with my mom to get my ears pierced. While some girls went off to sterile looking jewelers in the mall, my mom took me downtown to a tiny and very cluttered shop called Indian Arts and Jewels. The store smelt like Indian cotton and incense. A short Indian man led us into the back where I sat under a bright lamp and he help my lobes between alcohol-soaked balls of cotton. The pain was brief, but a threshold was crossed. I was now–I knew it–a woman.

    Afterward, we went for Chinese food and as we walked down the windy sidewalk, my new earrings stung in my ears, a persistent reminder of my new identity.

  3. I’m 40 and I don’t have my ears pierced–my mom didn’t, her mom didn’t, I just never wanted them bad enough to get over the whole needle-piercing-your-skin-thing. I’d actually like to have pierced ears now, for the first time in my life. I think they’re pretty and feminine. ANd now that I have two kids, I want to be able to look pretty and feminine in two seconds flat.

    But I’m torn. My oldest is a girl. She’s 3. I don’t want to trigger any yearning for pierced ears in her, because I don’t want her to pierce her ears for a long long time. So I’m in limbo.

    I’m not really adding much to the argument pro or con, just wanted to say that I’m right there with you on the ambivalence.

  4. The deal around my house was you had to wait until you were 13. I’m not even sure why my parents made that rule–maybe they figured by then we’d figure out whether we really wanted our ears pierced or not? I do have pierced ears but with my kids we’ve lowered the age to 11. When I took my daughter it ended up being a really cool, bonding type experience but if one of my kids decided she didn’t want pierced ears or wanted hers to close up, that would be fine too. I’m not much of a jewelry person I guess.

  5. I did not have pierced ears, and pierced them when my daughters requested piercing. I do not see it as mutilation. I had lost so many earrings in the past, some valuable, that I was happy to have earrings remain in place. I think it’s a fun thing, to be celebrated. Why not embrace this event in your daughter’s life as something positive?

  6. Oh gosh this is quite a topic for me. I wrote an essay when my daughter got her ears piereced wondering the same questions. Then years later it seemed that the holes were just slightly too high. I don’t know if they were done wrong or her ears grew strangely. I feel horrible every time i notice it.

  7. Piercing my ears was fun, if not painful. Everyone said it didn’t hurt, but I remember mine not only hurting but bleeding a LOT. But that was back in the day…before the gun shot the hole into your lobe. And I’ve enjoyed wearing and buying earrings ever since. I think of it less like mutilation and more like adornment. I’m sure once your daughter saves up enough money, it’ll be that much more special for her, having paid for it herself.

  8. My mom made me wait until I was 12. I wore earrings (studs only) well into my 20s, but after that … I sort of lost interest. I still sometimes wear earrings (it’s amazing that I can since I almost never do), but I’m just not a jewelry girl. Most often, I wear my wedding ring, and that’s it.

    P.S. I cannot wear earrings that dangle because it makes me feel like there is a bug crawling on my neck, and it freaks me out.

    My 10-year-old niece wants to get her ears pierced because all her friends have theirs done. My sis is making her wait until age 12. I wanted to get her the clip-on or magnet kind until them, but my sister worried it would open her up to teasing or bullying. So we had a little outing instead for her b-day present last month.

  9. My dad said I had to wait til I was 16 to get my ears pierced. My mom talked him down to 13. My sister got hers at 12, at the same time I got my second hole (at 15).

    DH and I have discussed it about our 6 week old daughter… Recent studies have shown the possibility of a link between early ear piercing and developing a metal allergy/sensitivity later in life. My husband already has a nickel allergy. So we have decided to not get her ears pierced until she is a teen, and then only if she wants it done…

  10. This is one of those things I also feel quite ambivalent about and some of it is rooted in awareness of cultural differences too – our daughters were born in a culture where schoolgirls are not allowed to wear jewelry (or even makeup) till after high school. It’s been quite a change for us now that we are back in the U.S. and my still-very-young daughter notices things like classmates wearing nail polish. Then there are cultures where it’s traditional to pierce baby girls’ ears.

    Like Roxanne, I had my ears pierced (probably when I was about 13 or so) and then after a period of wearing earrings, lost interest in them. I haven’t worn them regularly in about a decade. I tried some on the other day and one of my holes had closed up. I don’t know if I want to wear my earrings badly enough to open that hole up again.

  11. My grandmother, mom, myself, and my daughter all got our ears pierced when we were only a few months old. My grandparents are from Europe and it is family tradition to get a baby girls ears pierced. In Belgium, where they were raised, gold and diamonds are what they invested in (I guess it was better then stocks) so gold earrings was the first investment of little girls. I am proud to hold up their tradition and loved picking out my daughters first pair of earrings and then keeping them in the jewelry box with the other “first earrings” of the past generations to pass down to her.

  12. I was planning on waiting with my just turned 8 1/2 year old, till she was older, but had a hard time with the argument because my mom pierced my ears when I was 6 months (it was typical in Europe to do that 40 years ago). Recently, as she is beginning to go through the 9 year change, she is beginning to grieve the leaving behind of childhood and has talked about not wanting to grow up. While I’m ok with her grieving, I also want to highlight to her, that while we can certainly feel that way about the past, we can also look forward to the future.

    To affirm the sense of “yes, there are many wonderful experiences waiting for you…such as piercing your ears”. So, her ‘gift’ for her half birthday was finding out that we are saying yes to earrings and will take the next 6 months to find a reputable piercer, and earrings. She is wanting a pair exactly like mine – the ones I wear are the ones that were put into my ear at 6 months of age. I’m extremely conscious of the whole oversexualization of young girls, and will put my foot down on other matters, but this, I really felt was symbolic of leaving behind something, and looking forward to the future.

  13. I had wanted pierced ears as a child, but my mother said I needed to wait until I was 9 years old. Then, about 2 months before my 9th birthday, my mother surprised me with a trip to the jewelry store. I was so excited to finally get my wish–and early, too. The bigger surprise? She sat down right after me to have hers done. It remains a lovely memory for me.

  14. Hmmm… my daughter’s 13 and this topic has come up a few times. She hasn’t been adamant about getting them, though, so we haven’t really pursued it. I’d let her if she really wanted them; the husband is less enthusiastic.

    I got pierced ears as a teenager and am glad I did it. I didn’t wear them for years, but the holes were still there so I poked my way back through and was able to wear them again with re-piercing.

  15. I’m one to talk, having pierced ears AND tattoos… but I do think that little diamond studs or super-thin silver hoops are adorable and classy. I say let her do it!

  16. I was around your daughter’s age when I got my ears pierced. My mother knew that middle school kids will do crazy things (like having a friend pierce your ears in the bathroom, which some of my friends actually did), so she wanted me to get my ears pierced in a more hygienic environment. My dad was a doctor, so he scoped out piercing places in advance to make sure it was cleaning its instruments and all that jazz (Mom didn’t want to come). He made sure I cleaned my ears thoroughly, so I never had any problems.

    BUT in college, I decided to get my belly button pierced, which in retrospect was a mistake. That area is VERY prone to infection and takes a long time to heal, so even though I was careful about cleaning my belly button, it got infected and I had to take out the ring (actually, my roommate threatened to drag me to the ER if I didn’t take it out, she was very worried about the infection spreading). My mom was very upset when she found out about the belly ring about six months after I’d gotten it, but my Dad just shrugged and said he’d have taken me and quizzed the place about their cleaning procedures if I’d asked him. Now I have a little hole in my belly button (even though it’s mostly closed and I can’t wear a ring anymore). Unlike tattoos, which you can get lasered off, those little holes never quite go away. Not to freak you out, Jennifer, as I’m sure you have several more years before your daughter starts wanting other piercings.

  17. My mother forced me to have my ears pierced at 7 yrs old, for my birthday. I still vividly remember begging and pleading her to not make me and bawling my eyes out and even throwing up. She just scolded me for it. She tore in to me and told me how horrible I was and I am supposed to WANT my ears pierced and to shut up and get it done. I was held down and they held my head in place and forced me to have it done. I am 40 now and never wear earrings. With my own daughter, I decided it was her body, her choice. I have had my own sister try to tell my daughter that there is something wrong with her for not wanting her ears pierced. My daughter is 14 and has no intention. I am open to whatever she wants and tell her so. If she wants them pierced, I will take her in. If not, fine too. She does not. I always cringe when a mother posts pictures of her baby girl with ears pierced or tells about. It just makes me cry for that poor baby who has had control of her own body taken from her. I think it is selfish of the parents and those babies should have the right to grow up and make that decision for themselves.

  18. I had to wait until I was 13 to get my ears pierced. I have a grown son, who was never the type of kid to pierce anything, so this issue was never an issue for me. I suppose, if I did have a daughter, I would simply have her wait until she was old/responsible enough to be able to handle the hygiene aspects of having pierced ears. To avoid infections, etc. Great column, Jennifer! Loved the part about your grandfather (who thought only prostitutes wore ankle bracelets).

  19. If they’re old enough to care for the piercing properly, then why not?

    But PLEASE – get it done by a trained piercer, not some underpaid teenager at a department store.

    Piercing guns can transmit HIV and Hepatitis since they cannot be sterilized, and damage the flesh INCREDIBLY.

    The people who use the piercing guns have 10 minutes of training… they pierce the ears of a teddy bear with the gun.

    They have NO knowledge of hygiene or piercing aftercare.

    GO TO A TRAINED PIERCER WHO USES PIERCING NEEDLES. The needles hurt less, don’t damage the tissue NEARLY as much, do not transmit disease (they are sterile), and are much more trained in aftercare.

  20. ive had my ears pierced since i was 18 months old (almost 33 yrs old) both of my daughters had theirs done when they were babies as well (one is 12 yrs one is going to be 2 next month) they dont bother with them. with their ears they used the piercing gun, when i had mine done they used a potato, ice cube and needle

  21. i have not allowed my daughters to have their ears pierced yet. i’ve decided that if they want to have it done, they can get their ears pierced as after they get their first menstrual cycle. sort of a celebration ritual to mark their transition into the new phase of their life.

  22. I got my ears pierced when i was 5. I was with my mom, another friend and her mom. i barely remember it, but i felt very grown up. my daughter asked me to get them done on for her 4th bday. i explained to her that it would hurt and what a responsibility it was to keep them clean, etc. We decided that it would be fine to do it and she really handled it very well. We did it at the mall, both ears at the same time. It was her wish to have them done, not ours, she was not pushed to do it. When we got there, just before it was done, we told her that she could change her mind and we would leave right then. She will be five soon and has done a very good job with them, though we (DH and I) cleaned them, she always reminded us that it needed to be done.

    I think that it depends on the child. i do not approve of doing it to babies who have no idea what is going on. If a child understands what is going to happen and what will have to be done, then it is ok.

  23. My mother got my ears pierced for my 1st birthday, so I had no say in the matter. Growing up I always thought id do the same if I had a daughter, but now that I do, I can’t imagine putting her through any sort of pain for vanitys sake without her permission when she’s old enough to give it.

    I have multiple piercings and tattoos and I absolutely do not think its mutilation. More like decoration and self expression. My daughter will be allowed to pierce her ears when I think she’s mature enough to make the decision and care for them by herself. Any other body modification can wait until she’s a teenager.

  24. Why does it have to be mutilation? Why use such divisive vocabulary for something that is just as much a rite of passage for some people as getting your drivers license?

    I am modified. I have my ears pierced, currently once in each lobe as my second set grew over, and they have been that way since I was a teen. I don’t remember when exactly I got them done, I know they were done at one of those gawd awful jewelry shops in the mall with a gun. I also have my tongue (as well as other anatomical areas) pierced, and multiple tattoos – and the only ones that never got infected were the ones done by professionals, not the ones done by some teenager in a mall. Body modification is a ritual of growth and personal expression for me, and members of my family.

    Due to laws my son has to wait until he is 18 in order to get his first tattoo, but he’s been talking about it for 2 years now, and he’s not quite 16. My daughter will be born soon, and yes, her ears will be getting pierced, by a professional body modification artist, who actually knows what they are doing, so as to avoid the pain and trauma of going under the gun with cheap jewelry that causes all of the infections everyone seems to remember.

    Does that mean I’m mutilating my children? Not to me, and I certainly hope there are more open minded people in the world.

  25. Hmmm. My father is Ecuadorian, and I had my ears pierced as a small child (which is a latin tradition), and they often got infected when I was growing up. However, as I got into my teen years, I developed a love for pretty, dangly earrings that I still have today. My daughter is almost 2, and she calls my earrings “pretties.” I think when she is old enough to understand that it will hurt when she gets it done, and that she will have to help me care for them properly, there is no problem with getting it done. I don’t see it as ‘over-sexualization’ at all. I see it as something pretty and feminine, no different than wearing a skirt or a necklace…which are also things I enjoy.

  26. I don’t have daughters, but my rule with my sons is exactly what it would be if i had daughters… Wait until you’re 12 (older if there’s immaturity issue), and no mall gun piercings.

    Yes, it might be pain-for-vanity, but such things exist in all cultures.

  27. I was about three when I got my ears pierced. Loved them! It was done by a mall piercer. I have never had problems with them.

    My husband has his ears pierced too. He did them all himself with a needle and ice. He hasn’t had problems with them either.

    Our 8 year old son, thinking Dad’s earrings were cool, wanted one too when he was in kindergarten. So, out came the ice, sterilized needle and potato. He thought it was so cool. Healed great. No problems. Kids asked him about it. We have raised the kids to be proud of who they are regardless of what others believe. However, when we moved to a place that offered tackle football the earring had to come out. It was out for so long we all forgot about it and his desire for one has vanished for the time being.

    And of course this reply is coming from a woman that is married to a man that has gauged earrings in both ears and multiple tattoos and who is also pierced in her nose with multiple tattoos.

  28. So far, the only child of mine whose ears are pierced are the ones that belong to my oldest, my son Seth ~ he asked to get both ears pierced when he was 13(he’s 17 now). My husband was so excited, he rushed Seth out to the mall and had it done! I have two more sons and my youngest is a girl (finally, I know!:))and if they want their ears pierced, it will happen for them. I didn’t pierce my daughters ears when she was a baby for the same reason I didn’t circumcise my sons ~ any alternations to their bodies is their decision!

    I love having pierced ears ~ had mine done at 18 since I had to first escape a too strict religious household, where jewelry was completely forbidden. I even pierced my own ears, putting in second and third holes! LOL ~ yeah, I was a bit wild.

  29. That’s exactly what I used to pierce my own ears and others during late nights of boredom in our boarding college! Did my husband’s second holes that way too! :)

  30. My mom and my sister both had theirs pierced and I had mine pierced around 8 or 9 years old. I loved my earrings and always have. I know I will let my daughter get hers pierced if she wants them done, but probably when she turns 12 or 13. That way she will be old enough to care for her ears and the earrings. I am however, totally opposed to a belly piercing and think it’s grotesque that so many teens have them and have the opinion that the piercings are similar! I know…totally off topic, but ewwww!

  31. I don’t know that there is a “right” age. Perhaps around the 10-12 age? I think it is important for a child to make the choice to alter his or her body. But it depends on the maturity of the child, which varies. For some, it may even be older.

    My first ear piercing happened when I was 6. After begging and pleading, my parents relented. Unfortunately, I did not take care of them and they got infected and closed. My mom repierced them when I was 8. Since then, I actually have had multiple piercings and tattoos. Piercings included: ears, eyebrow, tongue, nipples. I have had all of them for approx. 10 years before removing all of my body piercings. I rarely wear earrings now. While all of this was an expression of my own individuality, I was able to make the choice.

  32. Amy~

    Colorado’s laws are 16 with parent permission for tattoos. We’ve already told our kids that we’d take them if they wanted one for their 16th. We feel the same way you do!

  33. I have my ears pierced. I got them once when I was young and they got infected and closed. I got them again when I was a teenager and they hurt a lot and I’d go without earrings and have to force them back through later. As an adult, I started wearing them more and got a 2nd hole in each ear. I eventually stopped wearing them so much and only last May, after having my youngest, put my diamond studs in one hole and my silver studs in the other and wear them all the time. I got my oldest daughter’s pierced at age 2 (she had a Barbie that had earrings and wanted them too) and she still has pierced ears and loves wearing earrings. One did get pulled on her pillow case when she was little so that hole is bigger. I got my middle daughter’s ears pierced at age 3 (she asked because her sister had them), I think. They got infected and closed. She asked again around 8 and my husband (her step-dad) wasn’t too thrilled about it. He finally agreed and she was allowed to get them done. He feels a child needs to be old enough to take care of them alone, and so he wasn’t sure 8 was the correct age. He feels 13 is best. But she rarely wears earrings anymore.

  34. My grandmother pierced my ears (needle and ice) when I was very young. I distinctly remember sitting on her kitchen counter while she did it. I am 44 now and have worn earrings ever since. When my daughter was born, I wanted to have her ears pierced when she was very young. My husband thought that we should wait until she was old enough to decide for herself. She is 9 now, and he regrets that decision. My daughter has always wanted to wear earrings, but she has been too afraid to have it done. She is afraid of the pain. She has tried clip-ons for years, but they hurt her ears after only ten minutes. I feel so bad for her, because I know how badly she wants to wear earrings:( She knows that whenever she decides to do it that we will take her (not to a mall, though).

  35. I got my ears peirced when I was two. Apparently I wanted peirced ears so badly I would regularly run around the house with buttons in my ears! That was 26 years ago and I still remember it, the mildly sketchy place at the mall, where they used those awful guns! Since then I have gotten more peircings and tattoos. I now have two daughters (one is almost 3 and the other is 6 weeks) and my husband and I have decided that if they want peircings they are more than welcome to get them done, provided they can care for them themselves. I will gladly take them to a reputable peircer, not some crummy place at the mall! And really, as far as body modification goes, peircings are temporary. We have also decided that tattoos have to wait until they are 18, because I don’t want to be responsible if my child comes up to me down the road and says “why did you let me get this silly tattoo???”.

  36. I got mine done when I as a baby my mother told me. All my sisters did. My daughter is 8months old. She’s had her ears pierced for 4.5 months now. I’m so glad I done it at a you g age. I have nothing against pirecings at all. I have. My belly done and three holes in each ear along with my right Carthage (top of ear) done. Pirecings to me are nothing bad! :)

    There are a lot of people who think putting holes in your body is totally and utterly wrong. But I just don’t see how. Now all the face pirecings yeah not so much I hate people whose faces are filled with them.

  37. Personally I think piercing should be illegal until the age of 18, just like tattoos. It is masochism. It is self-injury. It is mutilation. Technically, it is unnecessary SURGERY. Mentally and emotionally, it is simply not healthy. If my child wanted to be pierced, I would have a talk with her about why she wants to harm herself. I would treat it no differently than a child wanting to perform any other kind of injury on himself because it was “fashionable.”

  38. I had my ears pierced at 8 and my little sister went with me for hers at 4. My daughter is 15 months and once she can ask for it I will get hers pierced. I think they are adorable and I don’t see a problem with having them done. My second holes were done when I turned 10 and my piercing in the top of my ear was done at 13. I don’t really care for the top one anymore, but it is cute every now and then to put a little stud in it. =]

  39. The only time that I personally am against it is when the parents force it on a child when they are very young. Piercing an infant’s ears should be illegal! It’s painful and only satisfies the selfish need of the parents. When the child is six or seven, I think they have the ability to understand pain and make their own choice. They also have the capability of caring for the piercing through the healing process. I mom let me make the choice at 7 to get my ears pierces and although I was nervous, I understood the process and responsibility and could consent.

  40. I had my oldest daughter’s ears done for her 4th birthday, after she begged for a year. During that year I explained endlessly how it would be done (needle in a reputable body mod parlor), that it would hurt (maybe even bleed) and that she had to clean them so they didn’t get infected (and maybe they would anyway, and that would hurt too). I explained that there could be scarring if she didn’t want them later. She kept insisting, so I took her to the same pro who has put multiple holes in me. She almost didn’t have the second ear done, and I told her “That’s fine. We can leave right now and it’ll be ok. It’s up to you.” She thought about it a minute more and got the other done. Neither one of us regrets that now. She’s 8.5.

    My second dd has expressed a desire *not* to have hers done, and I tell her, “That’s fine. It’s your choice.” She seems to take comfort in that. She’s five.

    My 2.5 year old son puts stickers on his ears, or puts q-tips in them, and tells me they’re his earrings. I have a feeling he may ask before his sister does. And when he does, I will explain it to him the same as I did to my oldest, and tell him, “Either way is fine. It’s your choice.” Just like I will do when my 7 week old baby asks someday…or, like my second, says “I don’t want that.”

  41. I used to be a professional body piercer, and I cannot stress enough to take your child to a professional to get ANY piercings done! If you just take them to the local beauty salon, mall, or what have you; they will use a gun instead of a needle. This is wrong and harmful on so very many levels. First of all, the gun is not a sterile instrument! They do often times use disposable plastic pieces in it however, bodily fluids squirt and spray. Unless the gun is put into an autoclave after every single use it is not sterile and may have come into contact with the bodily fluids from hundreds of different people. Second, a gun pierces by shooting the jewelry through your ear with high impact. This can cause keloids in some people, which is basically a build up of scar tissue that can cause problems and is usually unsightly. Third, these people are very very rarely trained in any type of serialization, cleaning, or aftercare; while any good reputable body piercer will be. It may cost a little more to go to a professional, but trust me, your child’s ears are worth it!

  42. I have pierced ears since I have born (they did it at the hospital when I was a few days old), but despite in my country is normal to do it, I did not want to pierce my daughter, so despite, I dress her often in pink or violet, people keeps thinking she is a boy… and most people tell me I should pierce her when I say that she is a girl… but I will not. I think she can decide that later, maybe when she is a teenager, we will see…

  43. I have my ears pierced and I am very happy I do. Like you, I love wearing earrings. I have had other piercings that I wouldn’t do again (like my tongue. bleh) and some that I miss (like my Monroe that I took out because I knew there would be conflicts with finding a job as a teacher in my state). I think it’s a very personal decision what piercings you have and where.

    That said, I think it’s absolutely wrong to pierce a little girl’s ears before she makes the decision to do so. It makes me feel all sorts of wrong to see a little baby girl with pierced ears. I can understand the logic of why parents would decide to do that, but I don’t agree with it at all.

    I think that when they’re asking for it (and not just once, like genuinely want it) is the right time to get them pierced. I wouldn’t recommend going to the mall with the guns though. Those things are notorious for infections because you can’t clean all the insides of them and the actual mechanism of piercing them is bad for healing. Take her to a professional.

  44. I think it is 100% up to the child. I’ve had my ears pierced since I was 7, and around 19 I started stretching my lobes. My 5 year old has been talking about it, but hasn’t made a concrete decision yet. I’m totally against getting infants ears pierced, but once they are old enough to ask for it, and genuinely want it, and can understand the procedure, then I think its fine. However, I’ll be taking my kids to a professional piercer who uses a needle and not a gun. If you are going to get a piercing, it needs to be done by a professional, not just some teenager with a piercing gun who had a class on how to use it.

  45. I disagree with you. I work at a well-known chain that is known for ear piercing. I have been piercing for 11 years. There is no ‘bear’ to pierce and no 10 minute training. All my girls are rigorously trained. As far as the cleanliness of piercing, here’s the real skinny. We have the gun, yes. It is cleaned with a germicidal wipe each time and that wipe kills all bacteria possible INCLUDING HIV-1. The ONLY plastic that touches their ears is the sterile earring in its piercing cartridge, and that cartride is thrown away.

    We use all PRECAUTIONS to ensure the health and well being of our customers. Now cartilage is a different story. gunning them is not the best way to pierce. but local licensed piercers have brought their children to get pierced at my store, pediatricians refer kids to us and so on. The only time there are issues with ear piercing is when THEY aren’t taken care of. I am only speaking in generalities. Other stores and kiosks may not be as clean, but making rash generalizations on ALL gun piercing places is short sighted and ignorant. You should always feel comfortable with your piercer reguardless of your choice. But have you ever pierced a 6 year old? showing them a clamp for their ear and a hollow pointed 20 g needle is NOT the best answer.

  46. I an from El Salvador where infants having their ears pierced is the norm. This was a big thing to face when I had my baby girl. Follow my culture and what my mother and her mother and her mother before that had done or take on the new norm for this (not always right) new culture. My husband is American (white) and he just assumed with no worry at all that we would pierce her ears when she was ready and wanted them done herself. For me it was a struggle between cultures. In the end we decided to wait, I just couldn’t witness my baby in pain. Yet I don’t for a second feel that what my culture does is wrong.

    Just throwing the culture out there for thought and to remember.

  47. Well I definitely wont do it unless the child wants to. but when you put it like this…well it makes me question doing it at all. LOL

  48. Just wanted to agree with Alexx –

    Go somewhere where they use needles that you know are hygienic – piercing guns are yucky and they cannot be fully sanitized.

    When my daughter is old enough (whatever that means…haven’t exactly decided on that yet) I will allow it, but we will take her to a trained piercer, probably in a tattoo parlor, and have it done with a needle.

    I used to have 7 holes in each ear and a nose piercing. I don’t wear any of them now…just too much work! I’m pretty sure I begged my mom to let me get my ears pierced around 9 and after awhile she gave in.

    I don’t really see it as mutilation…in the truest sense of the word, I suppose you are right, but I do tend to see it more as decoration. I love things like piercings, tattoos, crazy haircuts, what have you…I think there are different stages in life for them and they can hold more importance for some ages than others, but they can be a pretty awesome form of self expression – and it is something that has been done around the world for a long, long time. :)

  49. I remember getting mine done when I was 4 or so. I wasn’t asked, just taken to get it done. It’s a cultural thing.

  50. I believe that every person has the right to bodily integrity. My son was born with a health problem that required surgery to correct, and I knew it should be done, but it was so difficult to allow him to have such pain without him being able to understand it. I am vehemently opposed to circumcision and ear piercing if it is done to a child who is not old enough or mature enough to truly understand the physical, emotional, and social implications and has not actively chosen the procedure.

    I have pierced ears (2 holes each) which I chose for myself at age 13 and again as an adult. My daughter asked for years and I finally allowed it at age 9 when I believed she truly understood what she was asking for.

    My son has thanked me many times for not circumcising him. Of course I know there is a huge difference in the damage done by these very different procedures… but the common thread is that they are elective, and as such should be elected by the person themselves. I believe that is the ethical position I must take as a parent: to protecty children’s bodies.

  51. My oldest daughter wanted her ears pierced when she was 5. We looked at lots of youtube videos and talked about how it might feel, plus what would be involved with caring for her ears once it was done. She waited about four months from first interest until she had it done. My youngest, intrigued by her sister’s ears asked to get them pierced when she was 4, which was one year later. Both girls asked to get their ears pierced, they were eager to care for their newly pierced ears, and 3 years later they love having, wearing, and buying earrings. My mom made me wait for her own reasons until I was 10, but I never really understood her reasoning. I went on to add 4 more holes to my own ears with my own ice and needles. I think pierced ears are adornment, not mutilation.

  52. My father brought me to get my ears pierced when I was 3, without my mothers permission. He was like that. When I was a teenager I was self conscious of where my holes were: too close to me face, not centered on the lobe. O well, I am fine with it now that I am 28.

  53. Wow! You hit a nerve with this post, Jennifer. I’m not sure what age is best, I’m just waiting for my 12-year-old son to ask, since his dad has an earring. But he shows no interest as yet. Right now it’s all about the hair.

  54. Hello Marcela,

    I am from Spain, and my situation was the same. I didn’t pierce my daughter either, and I am more happy every day of that decision, if that is possible. You have all my support and respect for fighting against that custom that has not benefit at all and just mutilates your child. There are many stupid customs that we have to change.


  55. I had my ears done when I was six. I did both my daughters at six months. Why did I do it? The reason is simple. I love my pierced ears and I do not know one girl who does not like hers or want them if they don’t have them already. If you pierce the ears when they are babies there is less of a chance for them to get infected because they dont touch them much. BTW my first girl is 5 and she loves her earings.

  56. Jewelry? YES PLEASE!! I wanted earrings SO badly. My mom was (still is) a total wimp and wouldn’t let me pierce and she didn’t have hers pierced. My father used to proclaim, “you came to the world with beautiful perfect ears.. I will not let you put holes in them.” When I was 13 my Aunt whispered to me, “You want your ears pierced? I’ll take you.. don’t worry about your mother..” So she took me to a very posh jewelry store in Quebec and we got them done. I loved them then. I love them now. I even pierced a second hole (on my own) when I was a teen but I let those go. When my daughter was born I had hers pierced right away. My pediatrician did it. He said, “either do it now–or wait until she’s older so she won’t pull at them.” She was 3 months old. My husband crinkled his nose at first but I said something really sweet and caring like, “listen buddy.. I had two boys circumcised for you.. she’s gettin’ earrings.” It was SO fast and she barely made a peep. Never had a problem with them and she definitely likes them. No regrets.

  57. I was allowed to choose for myself at 13, but it was off to the mall. I’ve got one hole that tore slightly somehow. I’ve never had good luck wearing most earrings. Even surgical stainless steel. Many infections, time and again. I wish they would heal up, but even after many years of not wearing earrings, they haven’t.

    If I had a daughter, I’d probably allow her to choose at her first menstrual cycle as a rite of passage, but I’d show her my ears, explain the trouble I’ve had for years and make sure she knew what she might be getting into. Plus going to a professional piercer, obviously.

  58. One consideration is whether your child scars easily. I get keloid scars, and it’s not something you can anticipate unless you have a family history of it or have had a deep wound or surgery and can see how your skin heals. The scars are ugly, and there’s not much you can do to get rid of a keloid scar once it forms. If I had gotten pierced ears, I would have ended up with ugly raised scars on my earlobes! We had a babysitter who had her ears pierced when she was a child and didn’t know she gets keloid scars, and while she did wear earrings, it drew attention to the scars. So it’s important to know that this kind of elective procedure that’s intended to beautify can have unintended consequences. That said, of course, if your daughter wants to pierce her ears and understands the risks (both known and unknown), she should go for it!

  59. I do not have pierced ears. I am very glad that nobody else chose to pierce MY ears when I was a baby. If my daughter wants it done, I will support her once she is old enough to completely understand. Maybe 12 or so? We’ll have to see as she gets older. Personally, I hope she doesn’t, since I don’t like how earrings look. But I seem to be the minority here!

  60. I think 12 is a reasonable age for a child to choose for herself/himself. I don’t like the idea of parents doing it to their infants and toddlers and younger children.

  61. I’d recommend going to a professional piercer who uses a needle to pierce a hole, rather than a gun. With a gun (like they use at the mall), the skin is torn due to the pressure. I think it takes longer to heal and scarring is more common with the gun method. My mom had me wait until I was old enough to take care of them myself, which I thought was fair. I think I was probably 12 or so. Also, I get allergic reactions from cheap metal, so I don’t have too many pairs and I don’t change them that often.

  62. I’m an anomaly I think. People don’t believe my story, but I tried to get my ears pierced when I reached a ripe (very ripe) old age, and they didn’t stay pierced. I did get them done in the mall. I had no problems with infection or tearing. I did all the rotate the posts many times a day, use the disinfectant stuff but when I took them out after the prescribed time, they closed enough overnight that I could not get them back in. I eventually was able to reinsert but it was painful. I would wear them a few days, take them out and have the same experience. I finally gave up.

    So, I guess my grandma was right. pierced ears are only for gypsies (and for the 99% of women who are able to make an extra hole in their head.)

  63. I have pierced ears; one ear is pierced twice. And I love ’em. My mother wouldn’t let me get them pierced. So when I went to college, I had it done at a jewelry shop within the first month of the first semester. Since I love wearing earrings, it’s way more convenient and comfortable to have pierced ears. I think it should be fine for a high school student to have her ears pierced if she wants it, but it should be done at a place that has proper hygiene.

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