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earrings on babies?

Multiple people have asked me when I'm going to get Josie's ears pierced. Huh?

I got my ears pierced when I was 11 or so... it was sort of a right of passage. I was not ALLOWED to have them pierced before that, and when I turned 11 Mom took me to the mall and we had a nice womanhood bonding day. Or maybe it was 13? Hell I don't know, but it was some age where I was excited about it and made a conscious decision to want it.

Then around my later years in college I had no time for earrings ever, didn't care for jewelry anyway, so my ears really aren't pierced anymore. So that'll tell you how much I care about it. Marc has earrings, but I don't.

I never would have thought to get an infants ears pierced but everyone keeps bringing it up. One of the neighborhood gals at bunco told me, "You should do it now, because if you wait until she's 2 or 3 she'll just mess with them all the time!" Wait until she's 2 or 3? Again, my train of thinking on this was completely different.

I thought baby ear piercing was a hispanic community thing? Maybe it's a Wichita, Kansas thing?


( 41 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 26th, 2010 03:23 pm (UTC)
My aunt (in Long Island) pierced both my cousins' ears when they were infants. I don't get infant ear piercing at all. Why on earth would I want to bother with earrings on my kid? It's not like she's trying to look pretty to meet men.
Sep. 26th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's just a Hispanic thing, but I do think it may be kind of local to this area. Elery had his daughter's ears pierced when she was a baby. I was the same as you. I was not allowed to get mine pierced before I was about 12 and even then my father was deadset against it and my mother took me anyways.

I'm not sure what I think about it. It just seems so pointless when they're so young and it certainly isn't for the kiddo since they're not at a point where they can like it or dislike it yet. It's not like it hurts so much that it's best to get it done when they don't remember.
Sep. 26th, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
I was ten, and I had them pierced because I asked. Hungarian culture though usually is in favor of infant ear-piercing, which is what my aunt did with my cousins. I'm neither for nor against it.
Sep. 26th, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC)
Mine were pierced the first time when I was about 4... but I must have asked for them; I don't think my mom would have randomly decided to do that. I was still too young for it, though -- one of them got all infected and painful and we ended up having to let them grow in. I got them re-pierced when I was a little older (8 or 9, I think, then a second set of holes around age 11).

That's weird that people have been asking you about it. I didn't realize it was so popular around here.
Sep. 26th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
Because otherwise she'll never Get A Man (TM), or something? Weeeeird.

Here if a baby has earrings it's either a religious or cultural tradition from somewhere, or the child of some unfortunate teenage parents who thought they would be getting something a bit like a dressup doll but warmer.
Sep. 26th, 2010 04:09 pm (UTC)
All my (95% African-American) female infant patients have their ears pierced. It seems to be cultural. I wasn't aware of white people doing it hereabouts.

Whenever you get it done, if she wants of course, consider going to a piercer -- less tissue trauma in my opinion than forcing a fairly blunt stud through with a spring loaded gun.
Sep. 26th, 2010 04:17 pm (UTC)
less tissue trauma in my opinion than forcing a fairly blunt stud through with a spring loaded gun.
this! just the idea of getting anything pierced with a gun again and having to hear that noise of the gun forcing the stud in. ugh!

i'd be scared for my baby to have any jewellery just in case there was some sort of swallowing incident, plus, it just seems right to let her choose herself. no disrespect to people for whom it's a cultural or religious thing, but if it's not, then i don't see a reason to do it.
Sep. 26th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
I grew up in LA and the vast majority of my elementary school classmates had pierced ears. I had been told I couldn't until I was some magic age (13? I think?). It didn't really matter, I thought it would be too painful and my mom doesn't have pierced ears so it's not like she was pushing. I ended up getting ears pierced at the end of my freshman year in college. I had been wanting to get multiple piercings for a while and finally decided to get one set, just to see how much it hurt. I waited about 6 months for those to heal and got the next 5 in one go.
Sep. 26th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
My parents didn't allow me to get my ears pierced when I was a kid (it was "common"), and I had it done when I was 18 (and another one in the left ear only when I was 22).

My eldest daughter was 13 when she and I got my other half to grudgingly allow it, and then she took the lead and paid for both of her sisters to have their ears pierced, one on her 14th birthday and the other on her 15th (a few weeks ago).

If it had been only me, I'd probably have their ears done as soon as they asked for it, 5-6 or so.
Sep. 26th, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC)
We have a boy, so we're safe from infant piercing pressure, but I do find it strange and sort of superfluous to pierce an infant's ears. I mean, there are enough new, distressing and potentially infectious things in an infant's life, and they're unlikely to get much enjoyment out of ear studs at a year old.

I sort of view it as being in the same category but less drastic than circumcision — I wouldn't rail against it too hard for other people for whom it's a tradition, but I won't make the decision for any kid of mine to get any new holes or any bits sliced off for non-medical reasons.

Edited at 2010-09-26 04:21 pm (UTC)
Sep. 26th, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC)
I think it's become less of a cultural issue, and one more related to gender. Earrings are a quick way to communicate which babies are girls, because the trend of boys getting pierced ears hasn't quite gone down to that age.

I had my ears pierced as a baby, though I couldn't tell you when. Having since pierced several places on my body, I can only marvel that they stayed in. I took excellent care of my nose, navel and the other piercings I had, and they still somehow always managed to get infected to the point that I let them close. Maybe my body is just inherently anti-piercing, or something? The only piercings I've had as an adult that lasted are the second ones I had punched in my ears about three years ago.

As for whether I'll piece my daughter's ears, I go back and forth. I know it's the huge cultural norm and rite of passage that can make her a target if I don't do it, and yet on the other hand I feel like there's a usurpation of her bodily autonomy if I just decide to pierce them so maybe she won't get teased down the road or so she'll be more easily gender-identified by strangers.
Sep. 26th, 2010 04:32 pm (UTC)
Er, that was me, didn't intend to be anonymous.h
Sep. 26th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
I think it's a regional as well as socio-demographic issue. Out here in (mostly technology-savvy and relatively affluent) Silicon Valley, infant piercing is uncommon and considered a sort of weird thing, outside of recent-immigrant Hispanic families. I have three (unpierced, teenaged) boys, but of my friends with daughters, I think the youngest got her ears pierced at 11. And some girls aren't getting pierced at all, possibly as a way to differentiate themselves.
Sep. 26th, 2010 05:00 pm (UTC)
Most of the people I've seen do it because it's easier to tell that the baby is a girl. They put that elastic headband on and pierce the ears. I'm all for an appropriately sized headband, but I think the ear piercing can wait. I was in 5th grade when I had it done.
Sep. 26th, 2010 05:17 pm (UTC)
I was allowed to have my ears pierced when I was 10, in the fourth grade. I was one of the only girls that didn't have pierced ears, but I also didn't care much about what I wore or looked like until then. In hindsight, I'm glad my parents didn't pierce mine as an infant. It's a choice that should be up to the person who owns the ears.
Sep. 26th, 2010 06:29 pm (UTC)
I'm hispanic and I had my ears pierced as a baby. My mother reports that there was no infection and I was too small to be able to pull or mess with the earrings. For some reason, my mother waited until my sister was older, into her toddlerhood. That was a big mistake. She pulled them out and the holes closed up. I think my sister was 19 or 20 when she had to go get them re-pierced- she had been too scared to go earlier. So I don't know if it is a hispanic thing although latin culture is extremely aesthetically oriented so I imagine dolling your baby up is part of that. I've seen boy babies with jewelry on too (not earrings usually, an id bracelet or necklace with a gold saint's medallion). As a 7 year old child, I had a jewelry collection which included real gemstones like emeralds and pearls. I remember there was a sense that I shouldn't lose them and that they went with my fancy clothes, but I don't remember feeling like, "oh, I'm putting on my pearls now, I'm so grown up." OTOH, we were also the type of family that bought a new fancy dress for us every Easter and Christmas without fail until my parents split up and then we were much too poor for that.

Looking around the neighborhood where I currently live, which is very Mexican, I see that people will use any excuse to dress up there kids. You should see Head Start graduation. Boys are wearing suits, baby cologne and are taken to the barber. Girls have updo's and fancy dresses with petticoats. It was the talk of the town when the priest from germany lectured the parish about not dressing up the girls like mini brides for their first communion. He banned up-dos, white dresses and petticoats. Girls were to come to church wearing pastels and simple dresses without ruffles or flounce. My clients who told me about this reacted as if he had asked the children to come to church naked. It was quite funny. I *think* the formality has something to do with our Spanish heritage. I hear that in Spain, presentation and image is everything.

Now, I have talked to a few of my white friends who said that in their families earrings= puberty/rite of womanhood, up there with shaving your legs. Which makes no sense to me. And some friends said they couldn't wear dangly earrings until a certain age. I don't know what earrings have to do with sexuality or growing up. I'm hoping someone here will have a theory on it. I love this kind of cultural comparative stuff- especially around girly things.
Sep. 26th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
I'm curious about the rite of passage/puberty thing too, i never understood. you're a girl all your life, its not like puberty has to be the time that you finally get to express it.

i'm greek and portuguese, and my mother got my ears pierced when i was a few weeks old because thats what little portuguese girls do. i always had little baby necklaces and bracelets.

growing up i'm pretty sure it was just me and the hispanic girls who had our ears pierced, all my white friends had to wait until they were 10 or 13 or whatever. i never really understood why, though. its not like youre picking out baby's first tattoo.

i always really liked having earrings, growing up. i very vividly remember having these pink popsicle earrings that my dad would always pretend to eat. i had christmas trees and easter eggs and lots of cute ones. i feel naked without earrings on.
Sep. 26th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC)
I believe my mother's reasoning was that I ought to be old enough to actually decide for myself, to be sure that I really wanted to do it, and to actually think about it. (My mom does not have pierced ears and never has)

In retrospect, though, my decision to do it was all about the fact that everyone else had them (by that point, I was 12 or 13 at the time).

It never had anything to do with sexuality.
Sep. 27th, 2010 04:06 am (UTC)
very interesting to read that it's ok if you have them from babyhood but they feel too foreign if done as a toddler.
Sep. 26th, 2010 06:50 pm (UTC)
Baby ear piercing is *fucking creepy*.
Sep. 26th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
I had to wait until I was 7, and I couldn't wear "dangling" earrings until... I guess I was 18 and didn't have to listen to my parents. I always thought that was dumb, and honestly still do. As for babies, I can see both ways. I think the person who said get it done young so they don't mess with them might have a good thought, but that is the ONLY benefit I see. Otherwise, you are right, it is something you can do together. The only down side to waiting for the magic age is you have to remember it if you have more than one girl so the oldest doesn't get annoyed she had to wait for 13 when her little sister got to have it done at 10.
Sep. 26th, 2010 09:15 pm (UTC)
It's not a Wichita thing. It's a "because she's brown" thing. I promise.

I also had to wait until I was 11. Then, I had to earn it. For each week I did something (all my homework, maybe?) I got a pair of earrings. I had to have 6 pair before I could get my ears pierced.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 26th, 2010 11:50 pm (UTC)
There isn't a nice way to say it. But I don't think people would be asking if Josie were a pale, pasty baby like I was.
Sep. 26th, 2010 11:55 pm (UTC)
A friend of mine has a pale, pasty white baby girl and folks are pestering her about it.
Sep. 26th, 2010 11:54 pm (UTC)
No, it's an all over thing. A friend of mine with a 9-month-old has been hearing "When are you going to get her ears pierced?" FOR.EV.ER. I personally think it's barbaric to inflict unnecessary pain on a baby just so she looks cute.
Sep. 27th, 2010 12:16 am (UTC)
It's pretty widespread in the [poor] white rural Arkansas population, as well.
Sep. 27th, 2010 02:44 am (UTC)
As a person who worked at Claire's I can tell you that its NOT just a black/hispanic thing. We had people of all races come in for it. But, I think you are more likely to see blacks or hispanics with their baby in the chair than whites. A lot of people had them done on babies who otherwise looked like little boys - I guess they wanted to make gender identity more obvious since the kids were bald as a soccer ball. A lot of people said they would rather have them done now than when they are older like 3 or 4 when the kid has a fully developed fight or flight response.

I had mine done when I was 5. I asked, and my mom took me to the piercing pagoda in the middle of the mall and I had them done. I didn't cry, but I made a funny face, so my mom said. But I wasn't forced to have it done. I think 7-8-9 is also a good age to have them done.. Because usually by then the child wants to have their ears pierced, and you can usually reason with her to the point that she doesn't have that fight/flight response that the 4 year old has. And 4 year olds are remarkably strong.

Also, I recommend having two people do them simultaneously. Less drama.

I rarely if ever wear earrings now. My mother asks me if I forgot to put them in but I keep telling here I rarely wear them. My holes are still open though. I think its been a good year since I last wore earrings...
Sep. 27th, 2010 01:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you for pointing this out. I am in total agreement. It was so common to have your little girl's ears pierced in fact that my daughters have been the only ones who weren't pierced. And this was an experience I had with all three of them over the course of the last fifteen years.

I waited until they were old enough to ask for it and of the three only one of them asked at nine years old. She promptly hated the work involved in upkeep and when I mentioned what a wasted attempt it was I was told OVER and OVER again by other mothers that "that's what I got for not conditioning her early."

I about fell over.

Conditioning indeed.
Sep. 27th, 2010 04:03 am (UTC)
I don't understand earrings. Or piercings of any sort, really.
Sep. 27th, 2010 04:04 am (UTC)
I also think that once a girl is old enough (don't know what age as all the little girls in my sphere are much younger but I'll go with season's 7-8-9), letting them get their ears pierced might be a good way for them to learn about things like keeping the piercings clean etc, to teach them about hygiene, infections, and even the daily routine of disinfecting. and the consequences of not looking after the piercings.

as for my own experience, i was an only child and i got my ears pierced without permission at age 13 - my parents were VERY angry and didn't speak to me for a couple of days. clearly this didn't affect me much - when i was 17 i got my nose pierced! this time it was a week of silent treatment. i thought that was serious overkill but they're pretty anti-body-mods of any sort.

when my mum saw my tattoo (a 5 cm? shell on my back) when i was 23, she was annoyed but by that time, pretty resigned. since then i haven't had any more body mods and i think they are quietly delighted haha. i don't wear a nose stud any more but am planning to get it re-done because the external part of the hole will be there for life so i may as well have a gem in there.

sorry, long comment. and ta for the add :)
Sep. 27th, 2010 04:52 am (UTC)
I had my ears pierced when I was six. I really wanted it done, I guess some of my classmates had pierced ears and I wanted to wear earrings, too. So my mom said I could have them pierced for my sixth birthday, and she took me to the JC Penney salon to have them done. I think it's a good idea to wait until she asks for them. I mean, we're talking about punching holes in someone else's head. I've done it a few times- the two ear piercings and then my nose- but each time it was my choice. Some of my family members weren't thrilled with the last two, actually, but I love them, and it's my head, so I don't really feel any remorse.
Sep. 27th, 2010 04:59 am (UTC)
my ears were pierced at one week. but then again, i'm latina. ;)
Sep. 27th, 2010 05:19 am (UTC)
Unless there's a cultural reason/tradition for it, I'd advocate waiting until she's old enough (that 7-8-9 range) to decide for yourself. I guess I probably wouldn't feel this way if I'd had my ears pierced as a baby (and thus had only known living with pierced ears), but around high school I became quite proud of the fact that I was one of the few women my age not to have pierced ears. Plus I've found it quite fun to shop for non-pierced earrings - there are some gorgeous wraps and cuffs out there. Of course for me there also wasn't much familial pressure to get my ears pierced as neither my mom nor my sister have theirs done.
Sep. 27th, 2010 05:30 am (UTC)
would you have a link for these non-pierced earrings? my mum is unpierced and i'd like to buy her something - i think she feels left out ;) thanks!
Sep. 29th, 2010 02:17 am (UTC)
Sure! I have a couple of Ear Pins from Jose Jay. They just slip over your earlobe and are quite comfortable. I'm also a big fan of The Wrap
which are essentially intricate earcuffs. Depending upon what your mom's tastes are you can sometimes find good non-pierced earrings at antique/flea markets - I go for the screwpost style as I find them to generally be more tasteful and comfortable than clip-on earrings.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 27th, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC)
My mom got asked the same thing I was little in the early nineties, and we came from a small, predominantly white town in the northern part of Kansas. I think it's just a thoughtless mother thing.

I had to wait on my earrings as well, and I'm really glad because it was a mess! I ended up allergic to the hypoallergenic earrings they use for piercing, let my ears go closed, tried again with solid gold earrings, only to have scar tissue build up so only one of my ears has a hole in it. It was terrible (I had to leave classes to clean piercings), and I was 13 and WANTED earrings.

I can't imagine what a nightmare it would have been if we'd tried piercing them when I was a few months old and didn't care.

Edited at 2010-09-27 06:15 pm (UTC)
Sep. 27th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
As someone who got their ears pierced at the age of 16 and had a whole lot of trouble with the healing process, I would like to say that I would have rather had my parents deal with it when I was a kid. I eventually let my holes close up and to this day haven't bothered to pierce them again. Plus when you're a baby, you don't have to deal with the "it hurts to sleep on my ears!" thing.
Sep. 28th, 2010 12:06 am (UTC)
In India it's not even questioned. I got it done when I was a few months old and was fine. My sis who was much more active one got it done when she was 2 I think and she pulled her out that led to bleeding and all and only got it re-pierced when she was 10-11 years old!

My mom suggests we wait till she is older. Dad also feels to let the child decide as although it's a cultural/traditional thing to do, it's mostly cosmetic (in India, it's common to get both boys and girls' ears pierced), one more jewelry piece to add (it's also common to buy gold chain, etc. for an infant - start investing was their logic and looks good apparently.

So, I am keen on waiting till she is 10 and let her decide but hubby thinks it's cute so get it done soon so to reduce her pulling on it as she gets "older" (1 year old)!
Sep. 28th, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
i was about 3. my mom made sure they pierced them at the same time so i wouldn't think about it and change my mind and run(even though i wanted them sooo bad). i dont recall pain till later in the day. it turned out i had some metal sensitivities and had to use plastic earrings till i was older :(
the funny thing is i would go for months without putting in earrings and still be able to get them in. i still have pierced ears even though i wouldn't wear earrings for a year or so.

i mostly attribute that to being so young when i got them pierced.
Oct. 4th, 2010 04:56 am (UTC)
i'm fascinated by all the comments people have left about this. as a canadian, there's a whole bunch of different practices around this that i'd just never heard of.

my story: Mum said we could all get our ears pierced at 12. I think i waited (giant wimp, I am), but my sister got hers right at 12. Brother turned 12 and wanted his too! Both parents were a bit surprised by this outcome, but couldn't argue with him being treated the same as my sis and I were so he got his pierced too (both ears, IIRC).
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