According to my niece, the biggest day of her life is rapidly approaching: she plans to get her ears pierced on her 10th birthday—and she can't stop talking about it. This makes me mad.
My sister and I have daughters who are a year apart, and years ago we agreed that 12 was the ideal age for them to have their ears pierced. Now, suddenly, my sister has caved to my niece's whining. So essentially, I will have to cave too—or else be designated the Worlds Worst Mother. Although I don’t really care about the "worst mom" title, I’m not sure if this is a sword I want to fall on. Is my squeamishness about little girls with earrings really worth the battle? I'm starting to doubt it.
I’m hardly jumping on the bandwagon of hating on Gisele Bundchen and Angelina Jolie for piercing their daughters' ears—or even Kim Kardashian's decision to bling up baby North's ears for her first birthday. Kim was called out on social for being "tacky" and got lambasted for taking the choice of getting earrings away from her child. Even though piercing the ears of a baby or small child isn’t in my parenting playbook, the online attacks went overboard.
I find earrings a distraction from a child’s beauty rather than an enhancement. But I understand that different families and cultures have different traditions and, for some people, their look isn’t complete without some sparkle. So why am I holding on to 12 as the magical key number? Partly because it makes sense to wait until a kid can take care of the inevitable infections and be responsible enough not to lose all the bits and pieces. But maybe I've made too big a deal out of this whole ear piercing nonsense.
When I was 12, my mother took me to the wig lady at The Bay in Toronto and my ears were stapled. One of my holes doesn’t hang straight and, when I wear hoops, they knock me in the face. Despite this, I went back to her for a second set a few years later.
This amusing, yet informative, article from The Gloss criticizes Victoria Beckham for choosing a place like Claire's for her son’s ear piercing. I didn't know there was an Association of Professional Piercers (APP), for instance. Nor did I know that you shouldn't use a butterfly clip as a back for a new earring or that the guns used in most mall stores are not the best option. This Today’s Parent article says you want a single-use needle. But I don’t really want to take my fanciful 10-year-old to a tattoo shop to get her ears pierced—that will just give me a whole new set of issues.
The whole body piercing and earrings phenomenon is an odd one. Why do we hang stuff from our ears anyway? Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking when I catch a glimpse of my favourite pieces of bling hanging from my lobes. But I do love a fancy pair of earrings.
And so will my daughter.
Emma Waverman is a writer, blogger and mom to three kids. She has many opinions, some of them are fit to print. Read more of her articles here and follow her on Twitter @emmawaverman.