Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The One Where I Rant For the First Time (on a Blog)

So one of the many local mum's groups I subscribe to (pretty much exclusively in order to buy and sell kids' clothes) had yet another mother asking for tips on where to get her infant daughter's ears pierced today. In general, I make it my mission to not judge the parenting decisions of others, because it's frankly none of my business. I don't care what your kid eats, so long as you feed her. I don't care if you work or if you stay home with your kids, what you wear, what your sleeping arrangement is, or what kind of tattoos you have or political ideologies you may subscribe to, so long as you love and care for your children.


I have issues with piercing tiny innocent baby ears.

It's not colic, it's the chunk of metal you shoved through my ear.

Here's the thing. Sure, most women grow up to have their ears pierced. Yes, if you get it done now, she won't remember it when she's older. Will it be easier to keep them clean now? Maybe. But consider the bottom line here: You are making the choice to cause unnecessary pain to an infant for reasons that are exclusively cosmetic.

From time to time, it becomes necessary to inflict pain upon an infant out of necessity. The prime example of this being, of course, vaccination. The child has to suffer through a moment of pain in order to reap the huge benefits of a lifetime of immunological resilience. When we take our children to be vaccinated, we often talk about how difficult it is to watch them in pain. To see our babies crying and in pain without knowing why we, their loving caregivers, are allowing it to happen. It's such a difficult experience for some that they make the incredibly foolhardy choice not to vaccinate, which is an angry rant for another day. So if we have such a hard time subjecting our children to pain for beneficial purposes, why, then, would anyone be willing to subject them to pain for strictly aesthetic ones?

No matter how insignificant a choice it may be, piercing an infant's ears is sending the message that you care more about how they look than how they feel. That, to me, is unacceptable. I have zero problem with pierced ears- I had mine done when I was a pre-teen. I've had many, many piercings beyond my ears, and wouldn't rule out ever getting any others. As soon as my daughter is old enough to ask, should she want her ears pierced, I will have them pierced for her. But I absolutely will not be doing it without her express educated permission because body modification should require consent.

No, it's totally cool, my first words were "piercing gun."

Which leads me to my second area of concern with the issue. The assumption that because a child was born with female sexual characteristics, she will automatically choose to live her life by some arbitrary set of rules laid out to dictate how her gender should behave. What if that little girl grows up and turns out not to be a little girl at all, but a transgendered boy? Or a gender queer individual? Or hell, what if she just plain doesn't WANT her ears pierced? Yes, she (or he- let's just use the neutral pronoun 'their' going forward) can take the earrings out, and the scars will grow over. But an assumption has still been made as to their personality and choices, and I don't think that's healthy.

If you're planning to get your infant's ears pierced, I don't think you're a child abuser. I don't think you're a bad person, setting out to maim your kid and cause her years of psychological trauma. And I do know that all of this may come off as crazytown bananapants, I do. I just urge you to reconsider. Tons of us got our ears pierced in prime 'play with them and get them infected' years and lived to tell the tale. The pain of a first ear piercing, when begged of a parent, is a rite of passage and will still not be remembered, given a few years. But it comes with the added bonus of being a conscious choice made by a person old enough to accept it. Make a mother-daughter event out of it, go for milkshakes afterwards, have a fun day, and make it an event to remember. I promise you it's worth it.


  1. Agree completely -- applies to circumcision also, imo. N (who went through leukemia treatment at 3) has decided she's had enough needles and pokes in her life and wants nothing to do with piercings and tattoos -- and that's fine with us! If she changes her mind, that will be her decision - and again, fine with us.

    1. Yeah, my son is not circumcised for the exact same reason. I think that's a foggier issue, honestly, because there is still the misconception out there that it is more hygenic or whatever, so there are parents circumcising because they honestly believe that it's the better choice for their sons. But I personally do not believe in circumcising and I hope the general public becomes better educated on the matter.
      Go, N! See, there are all sorts of reasons why you might want to just avoid it all together. I very rarely wear earrings, they're neither here nor there to me.

  2. Yup - I don't wear them much either :-)

  3. This is excellent! Thank you for pointing out that children may grow up to express their gender in ways not proscribed by sex assumptions at birth.
    And I couldn't agree more, it's a body mod, that should only be done with informed consent.
    And I don't even see the point, are people worries their child won't be seen as girly enough if they don't have pierced ears?

  4. Excellent post! Also, now you know my Blogger name.