in defence of my piercing
When I was twelve, the thing I wanted more than anything else in the world—more than a hair straightener and even more than the latest So Fresh CD—was pierced ears. I thought there was nothing more grown-up and sophisticated than pierced ears. I would pester my parents relentlessly for permission. Every morning at breakfast I would whimper over my cereal and every night I would fire off the names of girls in my grade whose parents had let them pierce their ears.
‘TASH’S MUM AND DAD ARE WAY COOLER THAN YOU GUYS,’ I would yell before slamming my bedroom door and blasting Avril Lavigne.
Sadly, setting Sk8ter Boi on repeat failed to sway my parents. On the contrary, Mum decided that since she hadn’t had her ears pierced until she was twenty-one, I wasn’t allowed to pierce mine until I reached the same age.
Parents can be such a drag.
It took several months of screaming matches and one wonderful babysitter with top-notch negotiating skills to soften my parents. Finally, at the tender age of thirteen, I trotted off to get my ears pierced. I remember scrunching my eyes closed and gripping my babysitter’s hand while the Price Cutters hairdresser positioned the piercing gun over my squishy virgin lobes. A few clicks of the trigger and BAM! I had two extra holes on my body.
I’m twenty-one now, the age I was originally supposed to reach before piercing my ears. A few days ago I went to get my second piercing: my nose.
This time I didn’t have permission. Of course I don’t need anyone’s permission anymore but this piercing was something my parents had specifically asked me not to get. When I floated the idea with Mum last year she muffled a scream and chanted ‘No, no, no, no, no’ whenever I brought it up. My dad shrugged it off as one of my many schemes that would never eventuate and my grandmother, when informed of my plan over the phone, barked ‘OVER MY DEAD BODY.’
They all had different reasons for objecting. Mum thought I was going through a destructive mood and was worried about my emotional stability, and Dad thought I was just looking for attention. My grandparents decided I must be trying to fit in with the ‘arty-farty writing crowd’. They waggled arthritic fingers in my direction and told me I should have studied Medicine. ‘You could be fixing mutilated bodies, not purposely mutilating your own body.’
I couldn’t give my family a satisfactory answer for why I wanted to pierce my nose. I just wanted to. At thirteen, I had wanted to get my ears pierced so I could feel like a grown-up and fit in with my friends. But this time I just wanted to do it for me. As I felt the silver stud winding in and around my nose I had a silent ‘Fuck yeah!’ moment like Judd Nelson at the end of The Breakfast Club. It sounds cliché but there is something empowering about taking control of your own body and sticking a needle through your nostril.
Needless to say the reaction from my family was less than favourable. After a couple of days without comment my mum finally asked, ‘So, darling, when are you going to take out that thing?’
My family’s objections to a simple nose piercing baffled me. After all, on the scale of piercings, a tiny silver stud through my nose is pretty conservative. It wasn’t as though I was off to get a bolt through my neck or some bling bling for my lady parts. But for some reason, there is a level of hostility towards certain piercings, especially among my parents’ and grandparents’ generations.
I won’t begin to explore the history of body piercings or the shifting cultural attitudes. It would take more words than this column can accommodate. Besides there are detailed Wikipedia entries and books that explain it better than I ever could. But in my own humble opinion people can pierce whatever they want as long as it’s safe and they’re doing it for the right reasons.
I won’t lie – it took a few days to get used to and embrace my new piercing. At first it felt like an immovable booger up one nostril and I kept accidentally yanking it whenever I removed my glasses. I also had to peel bubblegum off the stud after blowing a huge Hubba Bubbalicious bubble and bursting it all over my nose and mouth. But I am prepared to endure these embarrassing incidents because I like my piercing and I’m really glad I got it. My family, bless their conservative little heads, will just have to get used to it.(Image credit)