Archive for Sunday, May 4, 2008

Painful-looking piercings produce unnatural body mutilation

May 4, 2008


"Aren't those earrings pretty?" asked my friend Jean, pointing to a jewelry store window.

"Yes," I replied, "but you couldn't wear them. They're for pierced ears."

"My ears are pierced."

"No, they aren't."

"Yes, they are," she said.

"NO, they are NOT!" I insisted.

It will not surprise to you to learn that Jean was correct about the pierced status of her ears, but I was staggered at the news of her mutilation. Since childhood, I have been adamant that I would not end life with any more orifices than those with which I began.

I imagine the idea of piercing ears started when one bored woman said to another, "Here's an idea. Let's get someone to jab big, sharp needles into our earlobes and force metal studs through the holes."

I can't even imagine how bored - drunk, is more like it - a woman would have to be to come up with the idea of having her navel pierced or, even worse, her tongue! Think about how much it hurts when you accidentally bite your tongue. Ow! Ow! Ow!

Nose piercings are relatively new to America, but when son Greg was a 5-year-old, we encountered a beautiful East Indian woman in a department store. She was dressed in a red and gold silk sari and had a diamond embedded in the side of her right nostril. I accepted the adornment as a cultural difference, but Greg was awestruck. Neck craned upward, he couldn't take his eyes off her nose jewel.

A few weeks later, he pulled the same stunt in an artsy gift store that boasted a life-sized replica of Michelangelo's sculpture of David. Because David - in his full-frontal and backside nude glory - was standing on a 3-foot pedestal, Greg's neck was again craned upward ... but his gaze wasn't on David's nose. Mouth agape, he circled the statue until a clerk appeared, concerned, I assume, that he would wear a rut in the floor.

"He's just looking to see if David has any piercings," I explained, as I grabbed my son's hand and hustled him toward the door. Greg's head swiveled 180 degrees on his spine and his eyes never left David until we exited the store.

I've noticed that some people pierce their eyebrows. I've even heard that a few folks - surely there can't be many - pierce certain hidden portions of their anatomies, but that is just too gross to write about ... and I'm not certain I believe it anyway.

Granddaughter Zoe claims she is made in my image and will not pierce anything on her body even though her mother and older sister wear pretty earrings in their pierced ears. Peer pressure to pierce didn't work on me, but the jury is still out on Zoe who is only 10 and has a good many years to succumb to friendly persuasion.

While ear piercing is not for me, I gladly tolerate that mutilation in family and friends because earrings are such quick and easy gifts to buy. But that wasn't always so. I once thought of pierced ears the way a nun in a Catholic girls' school - according to a book I read as a teenager - viewed gum-chewing. She told her students that "a girl who will chew gum will smoke, and a girl who will smoke will do anything!" Although the book didn't spell it out, I was pretty sure when the nun said they'd do anything, she meant they would pierce their ears.

Early in our marriage, Ray and I were enjoying Thanksgiving dinner at his parents' table. His older sisters and their families were also there and somehow - it certainly didn't originate with me - the conversation turned to pierced ears. When someone asked me if my ears were pierced, I said, "No! I would just as soon wear a bone through my nose!"

Too late, I noticed that, with the exception of Ray's mother and me, every female at the table had pierced ears. A decade or so later, Ray's mom surrendered to fashion and had her ears pierced. Whenever Ray saw earrings he thought she'd like, he bought them for her. Some were expensive and others turned her ears green, but she loved them equally because they were from him.

My mother didn't have pierced ears, but she had a large collection of beautiful clip-on earrings, most of them gifts from Dad. I kept a few earrings from each mother for sentimental reasons, but I won't be wearing them because my ears are lobeless and all my orifices are original equipment.

Marsha Henry Goff is a freelance writer in Lawrence. Information about purchasing her book, "Life Is More Fun When You Live It Jest for Grins," is available by calling 843-2577 or e-mailing


trinity 10 years, 1 month ago

that was tongue in cheek-right? i don't much care to see eyebrow piercings, cheek, etc-but dang, what's wrong with ears??

repaste 10 years, 1 month ago

shes right, whats the difference, a hoke is a hole

kansas_o_kansas 10 years, 1 month ago

This article is a joke, right? This lobeless wonder can't be for real...

davidsmom 10 years, 1 month ago

I loved earrings but clip-ons hurt if they were tight enough to stay on, and my earlobes were too small to hold them. So I had my ears pierced, and I love earrings. But I only have one hole per ear. As for nose, tongue, navel, eyebrow and (unmentionable) piercings, it hurts just thinking about them, and some of them are so disgusting I can't even stand to look at people who have them.

Paul Decelles 10 years, 1 month ago

I happen to have pierced ears and don't see it as any sort of mutilation and have a quite a range of discrete studs that I can switch off. Clip ons just wouldn't be the same though I know I can also get studs held in place with powerful magnets.I don't mind other sorts of piercings if that's what people want to do but I wonder about the long term advisability of nasal or tongue piercings. And aesthetically many of these other sorts of piercings don't do anything for me. Certainly people who want to have piercings ought to have it done by a reputable piercer who uses proper sterile technique and gives good after care advice. It is really easy to mess up even a straightforward ear piercing with bad after care.

Paul R Getto 10 years, 1 month ago

Mutilation for beauty's sake, particularly with women, is a nearly universal human tradition. I have mixed emotions about seeing someone with enough metal in their face to pick up radio signals, but, "live and let live."

coolmarv 10 years, 1 month ago

Am I missing something? Do the first few paragraphs make sense? The writer argues with her friend as to whether or not her ears are pierced, why?. Also the part about a woman being bored and coming up with the idea to get pierced. It's been a cultural tradition for thousands of years. Doesn't seem very well written to me.

tvc 10 years, 1 month ago

I hate it when parents pierce a baby's ears! Otherwise, I say pierce away

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

"Do the first few paragraphs make sense? "I had to read those paragraphs twice, too. I think she meant to say that her friends "lobes" weren't pierced, but everything else was."all filled with little earrings looks plain trashy. "I would say a better word would be, "tacky"."And anyone who pierces anywhere except the ears is out of their friggin minds..tongue post have to be the worse..plumb dumb!"Difference being? Because people are used to one and not the other?"What freaks me out, though, is when they stretch the holes with those heavy gauge posts and you can just see right thru there."Difference being? Tradition? Maybe you do not prefer the type where the lobes are stretched out down past their chin and enlarged enough to pass a half-dollar through it? It's "traditional" for some folk. And, they stretch their bottom lip out two or three inches by inserting a bone or other object in it. Makes them "sexy", so they think. We over here use "civilized" tackiness. No difference, really. Just what one is used to in body mutilation since the people don't like their standard equipment.

acg 10 years, 1 month ago

The piercings don't really bother me, either. A lot of my friends have odd piercings in many many places. A good friend of mine has been pierced 14 times and he even has one down below. What freaks me out, though, is when they stretch the holes with those heavy gauge posts and you can just see right thru there. It doesn't make me think less of the person who wears it, to each their own and all, but it really just freaks me out, personally, to see that big gaping hole in their body.

iplaysupernintendo 10 years, 1 month ago

I have many piercings. I used to work at a big-box store here in town, and they made me remove all my piercings (expect earrings) while I was at work, which was no problem. However, I have visible tattoos, and the store did not require me to cover them up.What's the difference? In my opinion they're all the same form of self-expression.

eddiez 10 years, 1 month ago

I have a little allen wrench in my ear right now as a placeholder for a lost ring. That's pretty unnatural.

ronin_kid 10 years, 1 month ago

i wander if the author would consider circumcision a mutilation?.

Princess_Albertina 10 years, 1 month ago

I'm aware this was intended as satire, but I don't find it funny. There are enough biases against people with piercings without adding to it. Go satirical on people who don't already get ostracized, please.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 1 month ago

"unnatural body mutilation"There is such a thing as "natural" mutilation?

fhwghads 10 years, 1 month ago

I have 13 piercings, including earlobes stretched to 7/16ths of an inch, two on my face, and one in my clitoral hood. I think they are all beautiful, and I know many people who agree and many more who have more and larger piercings. If you don't have a single piercing on your body I couldn't care less, because that's all skin-deep. It's simply a different sense of aesthetics.Many of the comments that I have seen here are by people who would not pierce themselves but have a live and let life attitude towards those who do, which is a relief, but my biggest concern is piercing being referred to as mutilation. Whether it's a small stud in your ear or a ladder of genital rings or a giant lip plate, none of it is mutilation. Mutilation is when you disfigure your body with a destructive mindset. When people enhance their body to fit their personal definition of beauty then it is modification.And to the people who say that piercing is disgusting and those who get pierced are dumb or trashy, enjoy your small, sheltered, and judgmental world.

zah 10 years, 1 month ago

Wow. Your ignorance, intolerance and offensiveness astound me.You don't have to like piercings, but that doesn't mean you can slander people for choosing to live THEIR OWN LIVES a certain way.

TJOB 10 years, 1 month ago

There is nothing wrong with piercings, of any kind. I have my "unmentionables" pierced. I have my dick pierced and I love it (it's at zero gauge ladies), and my ears (measly ten gauge but that'll change once healed). Just because it grosses you out doesn't mean it is wrong. Religion makes me want to hurl, but I don't go around making terribly written articles about it. Piercing is a way to enhance and adorn the body. It is not mutilation when something doesn't seriously injure a person or destroy the functionality of a body part. While I'm pointing out the fallacies of your article, chewing gum doesn't lead to smoking and I know plenty of girls who smoke and aren't down for anything (especially me...). So what if a piercing hurts? It's a quick pinch and then it is over, why avoid pain, did the thought of a painful birth keep you from having children? Please try to be more open minded and don't assault something you know nothing about.

Oracle_of_Rhode 10 years, 1 month ago

Geoff forgot to mention tattoos, circumcisions, face lifts, boob jobs, laser hair removal, false eyelashes and teeth whitening.

beatrice 10 years, 1 month ago

However, students should remember that when you get out of school there will only be two people who will actually care about your tats and piercings ... you, and the person not hiring you because of them. Fair? No. Reality? Yep. So maybe you might just want to think twice before getting that image of a unicorn affixed permanently to your neck. And Princess_Albertina, if you are getting ostracized because of your modification, then you are talking too much about your personal jewelry. How else would people know?

TJOB 10 years, 1 month ago

I know what princess's name mean... but It didn't even cross my mind that this was satire. It's not funny and it seems completely serious and ignorant. Isn't satire supposed to be funny, at least a little bit?

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

"This is not true at all, ear piercing as been a ritual for many cultures for thousands of years. "Lowell! 'Body mutilation has been practiced for thousands of years, therefore that makes it right. No further thought is needed.'

trebhead 10 years, 1 month ago

Body modification might make you sick to your stomach, but this article makes ME want to vomit. How can you, and some of the others who have commented, be so ignorant. This is the way many people have chosen to live, including myself, not just because we think it looks beautiful but because it feels right."I imagine the idea of piercing ears started when one bored woman said to another, 'Here's an idea. Let's get someone to jab big, sharp needles into our earlobes and force metal studs through the holes.'"... This is not true at all, ear piercing as been a ritual for many cultures for thousands of years. Stop being a close minded, tight-lipped ignorant Westerner and start opening your mind to culture. Also, you should be teaching you children and grandchildren to be individuals and to not look down on people who may be MODIFIED (not MUTILATED) because this:,,30100-1310894,00.html is what happens when you teach others that looking different and being different is wrong. Get over yourself.

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

"Mutilation is when you disfigure your body with a destructive mindset."Yep. One who agrees with Female Genital Mutilation, no?To bad you are ashamed of your body and think you need to attempt to make it "better".

kansas778 10 years, 1 month ago

I've worked with many people who have the big holes in the ears or many piercings, and believe me, if your cook is one of these people, don't eat there. They don't care what others think of them, and they don't care if your burger falls on the floor either. And forget hand washing or gloves.

Sephz0r 10 years, 1 month ago

Great article, well written and good style.I'm a member of the body modification community, so I'm obviously going to disagree with some, if not most of things you've said in it anyway, but you have successfully voiced an opinion without condemning the body modification community.

beatrice 10 years, 1 month ago

caped, did you just brag about working in a PhotoMat? You may think you know everything about who you want to be while in your 20s, but chances are you don't -- take it from just about everyone past 20. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with you or that you are a bad person or that you don't care about yourself or others, just that those in positions of hiring people will likely judge you for how you look and how you will present yourself as the representative of their company. Of course, it all depends on the business -- you would have surprised me had you said you were the head of the local bank and still looked like Pin Head from Hell Raiser. If you ever choose to go in a more traditional line of work - you might surprise yourself some day - the permanent appearance alterations may be a hinderance to steady employment. All I am saying is that before you pimp out your face, it is something you should consider with greater care. Like it or not, that is the truth. I'm sorry to have to be so blunt about it.

the_caped_avenger 10 years, 1 month ago

so, pierced people wont get jobs......i have 3 usually visible tattoos, a septum piercing, 3 tongue piercings, bridge (across my nose between my eyes) vertival labret x2, and anti eyebrows.i am the office manager at a photography place. i deal with people all day long and yet i was still hired despite these "mutilations"suck on that.

fhwghads 10 years, 1 month ago

gr - I do not in any way think that FGM is ok. I didn't even mention the issue of consent. There are women who choose to cut and pierce their genitals in a variety of ways, and if this is an informed decision then that's fine. But it is not alright when young girls are held down and cut against their will without anesthesia in an unsanitary environment. It is a major violation of human rights."To bad you are ashamed of your body and think you need to attempt to make it "better"."I am not at all ashamed of my body, I chose to pierce and tattoo it to celebrate it. If I chose to change myself by dying my hair, going to the gym, dieting, and putting on makeup then i doubt you would accuse me of doing so out of shame. There are shades of gray between ashamed of your body and feeling your body is perfect; I can like myself and still feel there is room for improvement.And the "whenhomostakeover" part of your obnoxious run on sentence without spaces caught me off guard. I don't know if you're serious or if you're just trying to push people's buttons, but either way that makes you look like an idiot.

the_caped_avenger 10 years, 1 month ago

im sorry, i dont believe i said my age at any stage? why dioo you assume im under 20? and no, not Photomart, a photo art gallery. big difference. this is a traditional line of work, just not a traditional looking office manager :Dpeople are slowly becoming more accepting of piercings and tattoos, yes it makes things harder, but there are more than you wuld think in well paid, respectable jobs. its sickinging how narrow minded you people are. we are not the scum of society, we can get real jobs.

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

And I quote:"Mutilation is when you disfigure your body with a destructive mindset. When people enhance their body to fit their personal definition of beauty then it is modification."Not all are held down. Some have been brainwashed (as some others have with other mutilations) that it's beautiful and proper. The people doing it do not have a "destructive mindset". They do it to make their daughters acceptable and to celebrate their bodies and beauty.Why do you think it's done?(As far as the runon, the "style" is for caped's benefit and yours, if the shoe fits)

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

the_caped_avenger 10 years, 1 month ago

alright, im sick of being nice about it, you are narrow minded fkwits. grow the fk up. what is wrong with choosing to modify yourself. it hasnt stopped me getting and keeping a good job, it hasn't made any of my friends turn against me, it hasn't made me go out and steal or do drugs like alot of people thought pierced and tattooed people do.where is the damn problem?!

Mrhyde 10 years, 1 month ago

what the hell, how ignorant can you be.

pierced_kitten83 10 years, 1 month ago

Sir, what the hell would you know about my attitude outside of this discussion? My looks and my work ethic are two entirely different matters. You don't know me personally in real life. I am a hard working employee, receive merit raises and nearly flawless performance evaluations and answer every phone call I get courteously and cordially. It's pure ignorance and prejudice like yours that gets me in a "bad attitude". If this was discussion were outside the computer, I would just silently walk away from you and not say a word. I'm probably one of the kindest people you would ever meet, and if you sit there and disrespect me for no other reason besides my looks, then you don't earn one iota of my respect. Have you ever heard the term, "Treat others the way you would want to be treated."? Obviously not, because agreeing with someone calling me out as looking like "a sideshow freak", "a fool from the middle ages", and "a tattooed Maori" is blatantly childless and very disrespectful.I could sit here and write a novel of how sad and pathetic people like you are, but I am done wasting my time talking with ignorant saps like yourself through a computer. I wish you all the best of luck in life, and maybe someday you'll rise through the unnecessary prejudices you have against modded people and respect every one of us equally.

pierced_kitten83 10 years, 1 month ago

I discovered this article from a link on a body modification online forum, to which we are all laughing and jeering at this whole worthless excuse for a blog. The ignorance of the author of this article and the people agreeing with her sicken me. I don't know what else can be said that hasn't already been covered already, but you people are just as bad, if not worse, than racists. We are living in 2008, not 1950. Get with the times and quit looking down on those of us who choose to pierce our bodies the way we see fit. Are we personally harming you? Didn't think so...get over yourselves!And, just so you know I am a 24 yr old woman with 6 facial piercings, and holding a decent job as a state employee. My piercings are not an issue at my job and I am treated equally, the way I should be. You should join the times and do the same.Until then, continue to rot in your shallow, conservative mindset.

dph239 10 years ago

'If you choose to look like a sideshow freak, a Fool from the Middle Ages or a tatooed Maori, that is your right.'Real great attitude. It's also your right to shelter behind that closed mind of yours, though I wouldn't recommend it. How do you feel about religion and homosexuality, are you just as judgmental?You know, I've not heard of many people modifying their bodies to 'mutilate' themselves. Paying hundreds of pounds for a piece of artwork seems like an awfully strange way to 'mutilate' yourself. Ever thought people might just like the way it looks? You know, spirituality and culture may also influence these choices we make. How about a means to perpetually mark an event in time? Of course, maybe some do want to look like a sideshow freak, but hey, so what, that's their prerogative. You are you to judge? We all make our own choices. We're all individuals. Why must we continue to judge and ridicule each other? Open your minds and find true happiness. Being so judgmental can't be fun, surely?

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