Speaking only for cultures where this is a long standing practice: "Cuteness" is a non-factor in ear-piercing.
We do a great disservice to the generations of women who have practised ear-piercing by using terms like personal gratification, pleasure and gendering, vanity. If this were to be such a life-altering act for the person concerned , if it were to result in the kind of intrusion and trauma (words used repeatedly in responses), you can be sure the women and men would have raised great objection to it in subsequent generations and tried to stop it. Like so many other practices that have been questioned and stopped. Really, nobody except outsiders to the culture keep getting so offended by it. Nevermind how offending their words are to a people known for being extremely child friendly. They really don't need someone, who has NO understanding of the significance it holds, to do a superficial analysis and come up with various terms which don't bear any resemblance to what the physical and cultural experience beyond the description/definition of ear-piercing. Proof is ultimately to be found in the fact that these children (with holes in their ear-lobe cartilage) are some of the happiest in the world. Who are we to patronize them by telling them that their rights were violated.
I mean ric is cultural too, right?