We’ve all seen it: a beautiful baby girl, in an equally adorable outfit, with miniature diamond studs in her ears. It’s cute, it’s a baby, what’s not to love? Most people will barely stop to notice the earrings; they’ve become so commonplace today. But if we stop to notice them, we can only come to one conclusion: her parent(s) got her ears pierced.
Let me be clear: I hold absolutely nothing against parents who choose to pierce their children’s ears. I write this today only to express why I, as a parent and a body piercer, won’t be making that same decision.
As a body piercer and tattoo artist, I’ve stuck more needles in people than I could ever count. The youngest person I will pierce (with parental permission and the correct releases) is a 13 year old; and even then, I will only do certain piercings. I also won’t tattoo anyone under 13; and frankly, at that age, if it’s something stupid or inflammatory that I’m 99% sure they’ll regret, I still won’t do it regardless of parental consent. That’s within my rights as the artist; and as an artist I feel that it’s my responsibility to properly guide my clients towards work they’ll love forever (as much as I can anyway) and to steer them away from bad choices. Other than this level of discretion, I love body modification in all it’s various, beautiful forms.
Because of this people close to me have asked me multiples times, “When are you going to pierce your baby’s ears?!” And my answer is always the same, “I’m not.”
My reasoning is simple: it’s her body. Why should I put holes in it without her permission? Because it’s cute? Because “She’s so young she won’t be able to pull them out“? That may very well be true, but who am I to say that she’ll want her ears pierced by the time she’s 13? And if she doesn’t then she’ll be left with scars after years of having her ears pierced when she didn’t choose them. The scars will be tiny, superficial at best; but they’re only one minute part of the problem I have with piercing an infant’s ears. Besides the scarring there’s also the initial pain and fear this practice causes an already emotionally fragile infant in a new world; followed shortly by the risk of infection, keloid formation, lobe tearing, and the choking hazard of the earring itself. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics says a child’s ears shouldn’t be pierced until they can care for them themselves and they don’t recommend ear piercings with a gun (the most common way of doing it) at all because ear piercing guns can’t be sterilized. That’s more than enough for me.
Her being my child doesn’t make her mine to do with as I choose, not in that way. If she needed a surgery to save her life that required me to choose something for her body that would leave a scar, then I would make that choice in a heartbeat. But something cosmetic, that’s done for the sake of being cute whilst having some serious physical risks? That I will not do. And that’s my choice as her parent. Should she want to get her ears pierced later in life then I’ll do it for her, or bring her somewhere to have it done. But it will be her choice for her body.
We live in this day and age where everything is about the outside appearance. And really, what other reason is there to pierce your child’s ears besides it being cute? There isn’t one unless you’re doing it for cultural reasons such as they do in India or Spain. Many parents choose to do it for various reasons; and again, I have no qualms with them. But just like they chose to pierce their baby’s ears, I refuse to pierce my baby’s ears. At least until the day when she asks me to do it herself.
by Ashley King
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