At about the age of 10 the BA first enquired about having her ears pierced. I said no. Without hesitation. Without a second thought. No child of mine is having her ears pierced at 10.
"So when can I have them pierced?" she wanted to know.
"Later," was not a satisfactory answer.
At first I think I said 16 but somehow, and I'm not sure how this occurred, I was negotiated down to 14. However, even 14 made me squirm. What was it about having her ears pierced that so confronted me? Why do people pierce ears anyway? I decided to do some research. I quickly found this article:
"The ear-lobe was probably man's first attempt at body piercing due to the ease with which it can be pierced. The oldest mummified body in the world was found frozen in an Austrian Glacier in 1991, tests showed the body to be over 5,000 years old. The body had pierced ears and the holes had been enlarged to 7-11mm diameter.
Ears were probably first pierced for magical purposes, very many primitive tribes believe that demons can enter the body through the ear, because demons and spirits are supposed to be repelled by metal, ear-piercing prevents them entering the body. Sailors used to have an ear pierced to improve eyesight, and if the bodies washed up somewhere it would pay for a christian burial. In many societies ear piercing is done as a puberty ritual, in Borneo the Mother and Father each pierce one ear as a symbol of the child's dependance on their parents.
Ear piercing is an almost universal practice for men and women, it's only in western society that it's deemed effeminate. At various times in history men wore elaborate earrings; during the Elizabethan era many famous men such as Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake wore gold rings in their ears.
As the Roman Republic grew more effeminate with wealth and luxury, earrings were more popular among men than women; no less a he-man than Julius Caesar brought back to repute and fashion the use of rings in the ears of men."
"Jewels & Women; The Romance, Magic and Art of Feminine Adornment" Marianne Ostier, Horizon Press, New York, 1958
There was also this:
Did you know that there are several references to pierced ears and earrings in the Bible? In Genesis 24:22 the fashion is mentioned and in Exodus 32, Aaron melts ornate hoops to make the golden calf. History has recovered evidence that members of Ancient Mesoamericans had multiple body piercing, including some on the ear. Some tribes consider the ritual of piercing to be a rite of passage not a fashion statement. In Borneo, young ladies entering adult hood, have their ears pierced by their parents.
and, interestingly, this:Body piercing disappeared from most western cultures where it was considered the practice of barbarian tribes until the Elizabethan era when sailors came into contact with tribes who believed that ear lobe piercings enhanced long distance vision. This was of obvious benefit to sailors who spent most of their time on the open ocean. Interestingly enough modern acupuncture techniques support this idea.
For me it is the idea of rites of passage that rings true. To me, ear piercing symbolises an entry to womanhood, like a deb ball, a coming out party or a quilting; it is a sign that you are 'on the market'. I think this is why the piercing of very young children's ears seems incongruous and I would be interested to hear, from those who either had their ears pierced at a young age or have had their own children's ears pierced, the rationale behind the custom. Perhaps it is a hark back to the idea of ear jewelery signifying status as it was for the Romans?
So at the time I had agreed to it, 14 seemed such a long way off. Perhaps she would forget about it? Predictably, as her 14th birthday approached, she reminded me of my 'promise'. For her 14th birthday she wanted to get her ears pierced. Being a mother of my word, I had to agree; but that didn't mean I was going to have to assist in the process!
Now, the question that is looming large here of course, is whether I have my ears pierced. The answer is yes; but as I explained to the BA, I was 19 when I had mine done. I was old enough to vote!
Putting all the angst aside, she had decided that she would spend any birthday money she received in getting her ears pierced. I informed her that she would need to do the research, make the appointment and get there herself as I was not going to facilitate the process. Happily for the BA, The Bestie decided that it would be a very good thing for them to do together as a birthday present. (Curses, foiled by my own Bestie)
Here they are off to do the deed.
And here is the result. See how my hand was shaking with emotion as I took the shot, or are they tears blurring the image? Of course many people have told me I am making too big of a deal about this and truthfully, now that it's done, it really isn't that big a deal! I just found my own emotional responses to the whole process quite interesting.
What do you think?