I Regret Piercing My Daughter’s Ears
By Janice Quirt
Photo © maximkabb/123RF
Feb 22, 2018
It’s a little thing, I know. Just a couple of pieces of metal with some sparkles gracing the earlobes. Half the time they’re hidden by hair, but I still regret piercing my daughter’s ears.
A year ago my daughter’s dad, my ex, asked if it was OK if my daughter got her ears pierced as a birthday present. At the time she was turning seven and I asked if we could wait. With blond curls and blue eyes, I already felt that too much was made of her cute appearance. Very few compliments focused on her wicked sense of humour, or her emerging art skills. Instead she'd hear things like, “don’t you look cute today” or “what blue eyes you have.”
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So I was granted a delay, but this year when the request came around for her eighth birthday, I couldn’t deny it. She has four stepsisters, all of whom had their ears pierced at very young ages. Most of her friends have their ears pierced. She really wanted it done.
And so I gave in and said yes.
My daughter certainly was excited leading up to the big day, brave during the ordeal and diligent about taking care of her newly pierced ears. She didn’t cry when the ear-piercing gun was placed against those little lobes.
I did, though.
I cried because with her newly pierced ears she seemed to age by years, not months. I cried because my daughter now spends a portion of every day checking herself out in the mirror. I cried because my little girl, who previously was likely to be covered in paint, mud, chocolate or a combination of all three, now seems to be very aware – too aware – of her appearance.
With blond curls and blue eyes, I already felt that too much was made of her cute appearance.
Could I have delayed this entry into early tweenhood if I had said no for one more year? Maybe. Maybe not. Can I control an appearance-obsessed society? Nope. But it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with the fact that so often little girls, tweens, teens and yes, adult women, are judged solely on how we look and what we wear.
At the time of my daughter’s ear piercing I hadn’t been wearing earrings for a year or so. I wasn’t sure how I felt about wearing diamond earrings when I didn’t know what had gone into procuring them. I didn’t feel the need to bling up my lobes, I guess.
And as I realized that I couldn’t undo the ear piercing without breaking my daughter’s heart, I took a different approach to earrings. I used them as a representation of a style I liked, that expressed my preferences. I went to one of my favourite stores, with goods imported from all over the world, and chose a simple pair of studs featuring a yoga design that appealed to me. And then I wore earrings that I liked, for me, for the first time in a while.
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My daughter and I are different. We probably won’t ever wear matching outfits, because she prefers clothes from Justice, while I'm likely to wear plaid shirts. She likes sequins, I like organic cotton. But she and I share that kernel of an idea that appearance can be something you customize based on your own individuality, as an expression of your likes and interests – and not for anyone else.
Do I think there is too much emphasis placed on what girls and women look like? Heck yes. But I hope that little by little, we can remark on the expression of our kids’ unique inner qualities and preferences and not care so much what sparkly things they have in their ears.