Young kids with pierced ears: a middle class taboo?

by admin on March 4, 2013

Infant ear piercing, culture,


When I was growing up my mother wouldn’t let me get my ears pierced because getting your ears pierced when you’re young is frowned upon by the middle classes in the UK. (It could also have been because she didn’t have hers done as she doesn’t like pain).

I pestered her incessantly for years until she finally gave into pressure. I still remember the day I got my ears pierced. We were staying with friends in Southsea. I was 14. My friend was the same age as me and had already had hers done. I can only assume cajoled my mother into letting me have it done. We found a chemist that offered ear-piercing and that was that. Within seconds I had 2 brand new gold studs in my ears. They’d used a gun so it was pretty painless (as I remember) and I walked out of the chemist feeling like I ruled the world. Funny!

Now, my 5 year old wants her ears pierced. Absolutely NO WAY! Perhaps it’s down to my middle class roots and my mother’s influence, but I just don’t think it looks good on children at all, and definitely not on babies.

If I was Indian or Chinese, Spanish or Latin American it would be a whole different story. Both my girls would already have their ears pierced. In these societies and others, ear-piercing is an integral part of their culture. In India, nearly all girls and some boys get their ears pierced before they are around 5. In places like China, Spain and Latin America girls often have their ears pierced at birth.

As expats in Singapore, we are surrounded by families from all over the world. Trying to explain to Miss C that it’s not the done thing to have your ears pierced at the age if 5 where we come from, when all around her are babies with gold studs in their ears, is not easy.

I’ve told her she has to wait until she’s 16, mainly because she can’t even grasp how far that is, just that it’s a very, very long way away. I’ve also told her it hurts to put her off a bit. In reality I think I’d be happy to wait until she’s the same age as I was.

For now she uses stick on gems, but one day (hopefully never when she’s much, much older), she may come home with multiple holes in her ears, a pierced belly button and a tattoo (just like someone else I know, ahem!).

When would you let your children (girls and boys) have their ears pierced?


Crystal March 4, 2013 at 11:46 pm

My daughters are half Indian and I’ve gotten a ton of grief about their ears being unpierced from that side of the family.

I first got mine pierced at 8. I got a terrible infection because I didn’t take proper care of them. Had to wait until I turned 13 to get them redone.

As a teen I had friends who worked at earring stores. They learned to use those guns on bears and then were allowed to move onto paying clients. The hygeine standards were also pretty low. All of that plus one of my holes is at an angle instead of straight through mean that when the time comes, they’re going to a real piercing studio.

Last year I went to a piercing studio back in Boston to address the issue of my crooked hole/semi closed hole. The piercer told me that he won’t do younger than 5, and prefers older because there’s an increasingly high probability that when the baby is an adult that the holes won’t be even. So now I use that too as part of my argument.

In theory our rule is 13 for earrings. We may flex a bit on that, but I want them to be old enough to understand that they are choosing to put a hole in their body, and that they are also old enough to take responsibility for the care of the earring.

admin March 5, 2013 at 11:02 am

Hi Crystal, thanks for your comment. It’s funny how differently people see things.
I definitely would take my daughters to a proper place to pierce their ears, rather than “Claire’s Accessories” which we have in the UK and I imagine is where they practice on bears!

Anthea March 5, 2013 at 6:47 am

My dad always said that if we wanted our ears pierced before we were 16 he would do it for us with a drill in the garage. So being a bit cheeky i got my nose pierced at 15… bad idea. Not appreciated at all lol!

admin March 5, 2013 at 11:04 am

I bet he was impressed! My mother wasn’t happy I got my belly button pierced even though I was at least 21 I think.

notabilia March 8, 2013 at 8:21 pm

I’m Indian American and had my ears pierced when I was 4M old by my pediatrician. My daughter is 14M old and does not have her ears pierced — my partner wasn’t too keen even though I was — and I, like Crystal, get a lot of grief for it.

admin March 11, 2013 at 9:34 pm

I can’t imagine paediatricians offering to pierce a baby’s ears in the UK :)

Jennifer April 9, 2013 at 9:28 pm

My daughter is also half-Indian, fortunately I’ve never had any pressure from that side of the family to have them done. I don’t think it looks right on babies. I’m sure she will have them done one day, but I’d prefer to wait until she’s a teenager. I had mine done when I was about 14, mainly because my Mum had hers done at that time and persuaded me to have mine done too!

admin April 15, 2013 at 9:32 pm

I think waiting until they’re teenagers is definitely the right thing to do.

Caroline April 10, 2013 at 5:22 am

Ididn’t have my ears pierced until I was 18, as my mum doesn’t really like earrings on anyone, never mind young children. I only have a son, so I can’t be sure how I’d feel about a daughter, but I do dislike earrings on young girls. I also know for certain that I don’t want my son to ever have pierced ears! That probably makes me a middle class snob, but it’s the way I feel!

admin April 15, 2013 at 9:34 pm

My 5 year old is using sticker gems on her ears at the moment. I’ve had a few people give me strange looks asking if she’s got her ears pierced.

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