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in defence of my piercing

Image: Daisy Romwall via Wikimedia Commons

Image: Daisy Romwall via Wikimedia Commons

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)

4 thoughts on “in defence of my piercing

  1. I respect you opinion and it is entirely your choice to do with your body what you will, but the tone with which you describe the reaction of your parents is rather juvenile. Regardless of how Coll you and other of our age might think it looks, it brands you. Even if you are smart enough to take it out during job interviews, at some point it could bite you in the arse.

    However, naturally it is your decision. You could consider though, if you are frustrated with your ‘conservative’ parents and refuse to listen to their advice- move out. Then nobody will try and stop you from making questionable decisions.

    Normally I enjoy your articles- you have a clear talent for written humour- but the pseudo-rebellious hipster tone of this one rankled.

    • I get the ‘common sense’ of what you’re saying, Sharon, but I have to disagree.

      I don’t think that anyone should make decisions about what they do to their body based on what snap judgments other people will make about it, especially in the context of job interviews etc. We should be fighting against stereotyping and type-casting, not aiding it by policing ourselves to fit others’ judgements.

      I have a nose ring, and have had it since I was 15. It has NEVER affected how people see me, or what jobs I have. In fact, I’m on a federal government board, have worked in numerous professional capacities, and have been asked to comment on feminist issues on TV on occasion. I doubt anyone thought twice about my piercing.

    • I thought the article was in no way pseudo-rebellious, but rather an honest and down to earth reflection of the author’s feelings re making decisions about her body that may not be approved of by her parents or others. A very common issue!

  2. Great article Coco, I hope you enjoy having your nose pierced! I really want it done too.
    I am lucky, having a dad who has had more piercings and tatts than I could imagine… don’t have to worry about freaking the family out.
    I agree with Zoya. In my experience, the notion that having a piercing or tattoo will impact on your job prospects is a bit out-dated. Whenever I’m in the city, I see men and women alike in suits with nose piercings, stretchers and/or tattoos. Just the other day I saw a young cop with an awesome sleeve tattoo. Of course there will always be people who don’t like piercings, or other forms of “mutilation” but I think they are in the minority. Sometimes you have to just do what makes you happy.

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