• My 6-year-old said she wanted to get her ears pierced. 
  • My husband and I had let our kids decided whether they would get ear piercings and when. 
  • We took her to a professional piercer, and it was a lesson on respect and consent. 

This year, we took our 6-year-old to get her ears pierced. My husband and I agreed early on ear piercings were an important part of bodily autonomy and would be the determination of our children.

If our kids wanted them, we would take them to get their ears pierced. If our kids didn't want them, we wouldn't. Their age was up to them. They just had to be sure. I talked each of our daughters through the reality of the experience, doing my best to explain the pain was similar to a shot. It would hurt, but not for long.

Our kindergartener was certain, so we procured the documentation necessary and drove to the same professional piercing studio where I got a replacement for my nose ring.

I got my ears pierced with a piercing gun at a mall

I myself was not allowed to pierce my ears until I was 12. After waiting such an agonizingly long time, I immediately got my ears pierced at a local Merle Norman the second I turned the pre-approved age. Like many of my peers, I stood back while the makeup saleswoman took aim at my two lobes with a piercing gun.

When my kids decided they wanted to get their ears pierced, I opted to take them to a professional piercing studio. We walked past the tattoo studio below, walls papered with seemingly infinite options while people mulled their choices over and up the narrow wooden stairs to the friendly staff who helped us navigate the process.

I wanted my kids to have the safest experience possible

The primary reason I insisted we go to a piercing studio was for quality and hygiene. The Association of Professional Piercers warns that "Most ear-piercing guns can't be sterilized, and anyone being pierced by them is at risk."

But it's not just them who recommend not using piercing guns. In an article for Johns Hopkins on how to safely get your kid's ears pierced, pediatrician Rachel Dawkins highlights how the procedure needs to be done with sterile equipment.

Of course, the last thing any parent wants is to put their child in harm's way, and for me, a professional piercer helps mitigate any potential risks from a piercing.

The experience was memorable

With both my children, the professional piercers spent significant time sanitizing their station, marked each ear with precision, spoke gently and directly to our children themselves, and swiftly pierced the ears almost before our kids could wince.

Each detail was meaningful, and collectively they made the experience wonderfully memorable. My husband was especially impressed with how the piercer spoke to our kindergartener, a welcomed example of respect and consent. The studio was very clear on making sure our 6-year-old both wanted the piercing and felt ready for it.

They got to see people with body modifications

While I took in the scene the other day, I realized there are some other reasons for choosing a professional piercer. I hope taking my kids to a piercing studio normalizes different body modifications and piercings across gender identities they might not necessarily encounter in their daily lives at school.

As an elder millennial, I grew up in the wave when tongue, lip, eyebrow, and belly button piercings were moving from fringe to pop. I saw piercing studios as a means to an end when I wanted to get my belly button and nose pierced. It was a different world I briefly inhabited. A world still a bit edgy and definitely more cool.

Now, it's a place I go on a Monday night to get my daughter's ears pierced.

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