No one prepared me for the wealth of questions I would be asked upon finding out we were having a daughter. I was shocked at the number of people who assumed a daughter would make me happier than a son. But in reality, I would have been anxious about having a second child regardless.
Some of the weirdest questions I’m asked relate to beauty topics, like clothes and hairstyles. But the one that gets me the most is when I’m asked if she will get her ears pierced.
The answer is, I don’t know.
Although ear piercing seems to be a cultural rite of passage in this country, I am not interested in rushing the experience.
Call me an over-thinker, but making the decision to pierce my daughter’s ears can be the first of many imposing decisions that remove her bodily autonomy. And I’m not okay with that. It’s a cultural custom to get her ears pierced, but it’s not a necessity.
I haven’t met my daughter yet. I don’t know what her interests, disposition, and or gender identity will be. All of those factors make the tradition of infant ear piercing a little bit silly to me. In a way, piercing her ears immediately after birth seems like an attempt to control her self-expression.
My mother made the decision to pierce my ears when I was a few months old. I was not scarred for life. I did not grow up to regret that decision. As a matter of fact, I love wearing earrings and I think they add an awesome personal flair to any outfit. But that doesn’t make them necessary.
I seriously doubt that I would have been a completely different person had my mother chosen not to pierce my ears. I also do not believe that getting my ears pierced enhanced any aspect of my beauty or personality.
And just because I ended up being fine with my mother’s decision to pierce my ears doesn’t mean everyone will.
To refer to an ear piercing as a mutilation sounds extreme to me. But technically, it’s true. The choice to pierce her ears means making executive decisions about her body — particularly when she’s not of age to provide feedback or consent.
My opposition to getting her ears pierced at such a young age is not tied into a general disapproval of piercings. I have four holes in my ears, have had my nose pierced three times, and my belly button once. It’s about laying a solid foundation from early on that no one should have the right to make choices about what is happening to my daughter’s body other than her.
If one day when she’s 6 years old, for instance, she comes to me and says, “Mommy, I want to pierce my ears,” I’ll be fine with that. Because in that moment she will have decided for herself what modifications she’s comfortable with. And for something as harmless as ear piercings, I am fine with her making those choices.
Similarly, I believe the moment my daughter discovers that someone else can advise her on what is and isn’t appropriate for her body, we can never take it back. I remember the transition between being a carefree curious intellectual child and becoming a people-pleasing, anxious adolescent with low self-esteem. It isn’t easy to pinpoint exactly, but I know there had to be a turning point when something or someone taught me that who I was wasn’t good enough. I don’t want that for her. I want her to know that she can make changes or additions to her body as she pleases. But that doesn’t mean that she isn’t enough as she is.
My decision for her not to get her ears pierced does not mean she will not be able to wear ear jewelry. Clip-on earrings have exist for a reason, and it’s possible she will love clip-on earrings so much that she may decide it isn’t necessary that she gets her ears pierced. Or maybe — gasp — she will decide she doesn’t want anything on her ears at all.
People may think it’s a little strange she doesn’t have her ears pierced, and that’s fine. I think a delayed piercing of her ears will teach her that it is okay to be different and you do not have to follow the same trends you see for others in order to be beautiful.
Bottom line: Her body, her choice.
It isn’t about the ear piercing. It is about the life lessons and messages that come along with them. So no, I don’t have any intentions of making the decision to pierce my daughter’s ears.