Piercing perceptions vary with culture


By Sara Seibel

With mutiple ear piercings, Zoe Tinsin, 11, believes piercings are a form of self-expression, while Audra Guler, 9, chooses not to have her ears pierced at all. Photo by Sara Seibel
With mutiple ear piercings, Zoe Tinsin, 11, believes piercings are a form of self-expression, while Audra Guler, 9, chooses not to have her ears pierced at all. Photo by Sara Seibel

It’s not uncommon to spot students in the 21st century sporting body piercings. Whether it’s a stud on the nose or a flashy gem in the belly button, this explosion of popularity within the last few decades has put body art in the forefront, with the perceptions differing in every turn.

There must be a reason as to why they’re so common. Based on a poll done on the school website, out of 103 people, most got their piercings because of the aesthetic aspect (35.9 percent). The second most popular reason was ‘to express my individuality’ at 19.4 percent and the least chosen was for their culture at 6.8 percent.

Many people have been pierced at least to the extent of their ears. 83 percent of Americans have had their earlobes pierced at least once in their life according to the most recent 2015 statistic from Statistic Brain.

It’s apparent that piercings have grown within the mainstream culture. To some they work as a form of self-expression and identity; to others, it’s a cultural or family tradition, or it can simply be a way to follow the trend.

“I got my ears pierced when I was around one year old. It’s common in my family for the girls to get their ears pierced at a young age,” Christina Vo, senior, said.

Body piercings may allow teens to feel more confident and express their individuality. It gives them something to feel “accountable” and responsible for, as piercings are not seen as a simple task and require maintenance more than just an “aesthetic” modification to the body. They can also serve as a topic of discussion. There is a reason behind getting a piercing and a pierced individual can often find themselves relating to another individual with the same or similar piercings as they have.

“I’ve never had the desire to pierce any part of my body. Why would I want to pay to put a hole in my ear and then pay more money to hang things from my ear? I also know people that have had them and then they snagged or got completely ripped off,” Bridgette Brown, junior, said.

Although the embellishment has a symbolic value to the owner, others may not see it that way. Some piercings on the body are not viewed as “professional” and can be seen as a distraction, especially in the workplace. According to Psychology VidCast Blog, stereotypes such as rebellious, unintelligent, and untrustworthy are also associated with body piercings. However, they are slowly becoming more socially acceptable as piercings are popular in the creative arts like music, painting, and acting, as well as in athletics, design, and culinary fields according to Michael Lewis from Money Crashers.

“I don’t believe schools should restrict piercings. If a student wants to have three million piercings, then that’s up to them,” Jasmin Mortero, freshman, said.

Because piercings are sometimes portrayed as rebellious and uncivilized, some schools may impose strict regulations in their dress code. Many schools have rules about obtrusive piercings, such as dangling earrings, as they can cling onto things easily. Some schools may also limit one piercing on the ears, and no other piercings on the body.

Before society’s perceptions comes the actual process of getting the piercing, and pain levels remain a high consideration. It’s difficult to measure how much pain a piercing can produce because everyone has different pain levels and experiences, but a piercing generally will hurt or bring some kind of discomfort. The Debrief notes that earlobes are considered to be the least painful, and if taken care of properly, ear lobes and lips have some of the fastest healing times (healing as in inflammation and strengthening of the lining around the piercing), taking around four to six weeks due to their high blood flow. According to HuffingtonPost, cartilage on the outer ear or nose takes longer to heal, and although it won’t necessarily hurt for months, it will require careful cleaning during that time. If not taken care of properly, the hole may close up or cause an infection. A study from “The Journal of Adolescent Health” stated that medical complication incidences was 19 percent of the 1,000 students tested.

“Honestly, my nose piercing felt like a quick pinch, and then suddenly there was a needle in my nose. The guy made sure I was comfortable, and that it was in the right place,” Cole Segovia-Santilli, senior, said.

With anything comes the thought process beforehand. Before getting it done, know that piercings requires responsibility and that they will be perceived differently to every individual.

Whether or not a person agrees with the idea of them, piercings have made a significant mark on society and are quickly becoming the norm for the younger generations.