For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to get my ears pierced. When I was about 7 it became all I wanted, it seemed like the most important thing in the world to me. But my mum always said the same thing “When you’re 21 you can get them done”. She finally caved just before I turned 13 and said, provided it was done while she was out of the country and that I never got her to touch them or help clean them, I could get them done. Now, nearly ten years down the road, I have just gotten my tenth piercing.
When I first wanted to get my ears pierced it was about fitting in. Every other girl in my class and a couple of the boys had theirs done and I wanted mine done too. But as I got older piercings became about so much more. When I was sixteen I got my lobes done for a second time. I was obsessed with getting a forward helix piercing (I’ve included a chart with all the different piercings below), however this piercing involved either parental consent or being 18. My mother’s mantra was “Don’t poke holes in your body!” so parental consent wasn’t happening. It wouldn’t have been more than a couple of days after my 18th (just long enough for the hangover to wear off) before my best friend and I were in the salon, getting it pierced. I was in love! The very next week I went and got my belly button done.
When asked why I got my belly button done, since I never wore anything that showed it off, I simply replied “I got it done for me”. That’s it. All of my piercings are because I want them. Because I think they look cool or cute or pretty. I find it empowering in some way, it makes me feel more confident. I have eight piercings on my head, seven on my ears and one on my nose.
I got my daith and tragus on opposite ears done at the same time. Unfortunately my tragus rejected (meaning it would heal, got swollen and infected) and I had to take it out. Around the same time I tried to change my daith and couldn’t get the new bar in. By the time I got to a piercer to help me with it, it had closed over. Even though I could get it repierced, I felt less confident. When I got them both redone a little while later, I left the piercing shop with a new spring in my step. I don’t know why it makes me feel more confident, but it does.
I don’t think I’m the kind of person who would get dozens of facial piercings. I like my piercings to look good and I’m conscious of them suiting me, but last year I said I’d never get even one facial piercing, so who knows?!
I know a lot of people who turn their noses up at people with piercings. “How will he ever get a job looking like that?!” “Doesn’t she look horrible!” “Why do people do that to themselves?” I hate this kind of thing. Firstly because it’s their body, leave them alone. Secondly, because having piercings isn’t the taboo it used to be. Maybe having excessive piercings is, but people are often shocked when I tell them I have ten. One comment I’ve gotten was “I never picked you for that kind of girl!”. What kind of girl? I still don’t know.
I think attitudes towards piercings and tattoos are definitely changing. I work in an office environment and no one has ever mentioned my piercings. I turn up with my hair neatly brushed, sensible shoes and a big smile, and do my job. My piercings don’t prevent that. I think the left over stereotypes from the good ol’ punk days, effect people’s, especially older people’s, perceptions of piercings, coloured hair and tattoos. I think most people who have any combination of the above would have experienced comments about it, whether positive of negative, but I think being able to look past a couple of bits of metal, some hair dye or a bit of ink is important. No, let me take that back. Being able to accept someone as they are, ink, dye and metal included, is important.
Let me tell you about Lisa. Lisa was the piercer I went to in the UK. When I first met her I was a bit shocked. She had the most facial piercings I’ve ever seen in real life. I never managed to count them all, but she had at least six in her lower lip. But she also had a great smile and was one of the best piercers I’ve ever had. She pierced me three times and was absolutely fantastic. If anyone in England is wanting a piercing, I highly recommend Nala Studio in Tamworth.
There isn’t really some deep message here, I’m not going to pretend that every piercing, tattoo or hair colour has some deep meaning. Most of the time it’s just because we like the look. But remembering that the people the the metal is stuck through are still people is important. Although now when I get a new piercing and someone looks disgusted and says “Why’d you get that?” I can roll my eyes and say “Because it’s awesome.” I remember when those comments made me feel extremely self-conscious. Especially as a teenager. I wanted to be happy and confident in myself and comments like that made it harder.
I want to end on a happy story, one of the proudest moments of my life. I had dyed half my hair bright blue and I went to meet Rainbow Rowell, one of my favourite authors of all time, someone I aspire to be like and admire very, very much. As she was signing my book she looked up at me and said “I like your blue hair.” and that, people, was one of the most amazing moments of my life.
Featured image credit: Instagram: @piercingsofinsta