We all love our children, right? That’s a given. Goes without saying. Seeing your child in pain is the worst feeling in the world. They are so small and vulnerable. We’d do anything to protect them and keep them from harm. Wouldn’t we?
So how many of you have had your child’s ears pierced?
I don’t like it. I don’t get it. I don’t understand why a loving parent would do it to their child.
And before anybody says it, it is not the same as having immunisation injections. Nowhere close. Without wanting to go off-topic and start a discussion about immunisation, for the majority of parents, routine jabs are just one of those things we don’t like but need to do. Both of my babies had their full set of jabs. It’s not pleasant. It hurts them. They cry. Screaming outrage and confusion at their first experience of physical pain. As parents, we grit our teeth and soothe them. Because the pain serves a purpose. It’s for the greater, long term good. This short pain will keep them safe from worse suffering.
But what purpose is served by stabbing holes into the perfectly soft, unblemished skin of a baby? When our babies are born, we spend those first few hours and days staring at our beautiful, perfect bundles. We count their fingers and toes and gaze at the wonder of how we could make something so pure. So WHY would any parent think to themselves, “my baby isn’t perfect just as they are. They need improvement. If I have these shiny baubles shot through their ear lobes with a metal gun, they’ll look so much better!”?
I will admit there is a small snobbish, part of me that thinks it’s just plain tacky. This is purely personal preference; I think there’s something a bit common about blinging up your baby, just like having Swarovski crystals stuck all over your iPhone. A baby is not an accessory. And hoops! I see this frequently in my area. Hoop earrings on a baby at an age when they will pull and tug at any shiny, dangly object within arm’s reach. How dangerous is that?!
Claire’s Accessories imposes a minimum age limit on their ear piercing service in the UK. The manager of my local store told me they regularly have pregnant women coming in to ask how soon after birth they can have their babies’ ears pierced. They subsequently have a policy that babies need to be at least four months old and have had a full course of immunisations before they will carry out the procedure.
Four months old. Before a baby can even tolerate solid food in their delicate under-developed stomachs, you can sign a disclaimer and allow a foreign object to be torn through their flesh for no reason other than aesthetics. Grotesque.
It’s primarily girls who have their ears pierced at such a young age, isn’t it? Perhaps they don’t have much hair and you want to stamp “FEMALE” across their forehead with a red-hot branding iron just so the rest of the world is clear on your newborn’s gender. To my mind, this sits firmly in the same camp as those who think every little girl should be adorned in lurid princess pink from head to toe, lest she be considered less feminine than the girl who likes wearing green and playing with dinosaurs. Utter nonsense.
Let’s be clear. I am not against piercing or body adornment in general. Sometimes tattoos and piercings can look beautiful. It’s entirely personal preference. I just think a person should be of an age when they understand what is happening, why it is happening and any potential consequences of their decision to have it done. THEIR DECISION.
When my eldest daughter was five years old, she started asking me if she could have her ears pierced. My immediate knee-jerk reaction was “no”. Absolutely not. No way. Too young. Far too young. Lots of her friends already had theirs done and she was clearly feeling peer pressure to fit in. (In fact, some of them were already wearing little cropped bra-type vests but that’s a whole other blog post right there!) I explained to her in graphic terms exactly how ear piercing is carried out and how long it would take to heal before she could wear the Hello Kitty character earrings she was drawn to. I wanted to scare her out of having it done. It worked. Her face dropped, she rapidly changed her mind and nothing more was said on the matter. Until a few months later when it all started again. I fobbed her off for weeks. Finally, I said that she needed to think very carefully about it and if she still wanted them done it would be as a present for her sixth birthday. This was still months away and I thought she’d forget all about it. She didn’t. I’d had mine pierced at about five or six years old and I’d run out of excuses. She was old enough to know her own mind, wasn’t she? So off we went to our local high street ear piercing place.
Now to be fair, the lady there was pretty good. She explained it all in detail, showed us all the equipment and how it worked and said that if my daughter changed her mind at any point, she would stop. Except that if she’d already opened the sterile packaging of the earrings themselves, I would still have to pay regardless of whether or not the piercing actually took place. It was bloody expensive but it was her birthday present so fair enough. Daughter was still adamant so we carried on.
It was horrendous. There wasn’t a second assistant available to pierce both ears at the same time. The first ear was pierced. My six year old child screamed and cried and howled. She was inconsolable. And she didn’t want the other ear done. She was terrified. It took half an hour to talk her into doing it. Despite all the explanations, she had not truly understood the consequences. Because she was six. It’s obvious to me now. And oh, the guilt!
But we took all the instructions and aftercare products home. We dutifully cleaned her ears morning and night and did everything we were meant to do. But they never healed. Six months later they were still raw. She couldn’t change her earrings. She had to put masking tape over them for PE every week, which got stuck to her hair and tugged on her sensitive ears every time we pulled it off. They just never healed. And eventually one of her lobes got infected. It was swollen up all around the earring. Hot and red and sore. That was it. Enough. She’d had enough of it all and so had I. I took the earring out. She screamed. Pus oozed out. It stank. It was gross. Once I’d taken out the earrings, I binned the shop’s own brand of cleaning solution and cleaned her ears with TCP every day for a week and they healed perfectly. Thankfully there is no lumpy tissue or scarring. I thought six years old was mature enough to make that decision. I was wrong. I’d allowed it. It was my responsibility. Not hers.
Now imagine inflicting all that trauma and pain on a much younger baby who cannot properly articulate how they feel about it all. Imagine their immune systems, fragile and undeveloped, trying to fight the infection that had set in. Why would anyone put their child through all that for no real reason? Would you take your baby to a tattoo parlour? Would you stick them on a sunbed? Bleach their hair? Give them Botox? No. Because these are unnecessary, cosmetic procedures that carry a certain amount of risk and shouldn’t be carried out on anyone too young to make an informed decision to have it done.
I was going to insert a photo here of an infected ear piercing just to break up this long, wordy blog post. But frankly the images that popped up on Google were so stomach-churning, it’s just not worth it. If you want shock value, Google it yourself. Maybe not while you’re eating though.