When I was an infant, my maternal grandmother numbed my ears with ice, held a piece of cork to the back and pushed a threaded needle through my tiny earlobe. The needle went into the cork, and she pulled the rest of the needle through my ear, snipped the thread and tied it into a circle. I didn’t feel a thing, as the story goes, and the little piece of string was replaced with tiny 14k gold hoop earrings. I’ve worn earrings every day since. So, it wasn’t difficult to decide what I would do when I had my own daughters. They would have earrings.
That decision is controversial in some quarters and has been associated with demons. Even as a young girl, I noticed some parents frowned on the decision. People often asked me who had pierced my ears. I noticed something else, too. The decision to have or not to have earrings fell along color lines. If I saw a baby or child with earrings, she was more likely to have a mother of color. Those attitudes are changing. Today, I see children of all races with earrings in their ears. Still, I didn’t share my decision with any of the other women in my family, and I clearly remember the surprise in my mother-in-law’s voice when she saw those little sparkles in Simone’s ears.
If memory serves, my grandmother simply thought little girls were supposed to have earrings. I know very few, if any, women who haven’t had their ears pierced. Even Oprah Winfrey, who had worn clip-ons most of her life, finally relented and had her ears pierced on national television.
When Simone and Nadia were both around 4-months-old, their pediatrician pierced their ears with one of those gun-like contraptions. There were tears, but nothing more than any shot had produced. I turned those little earrings and kept them clean, and our pediatrician always checked them during well baby visits. I hadn’t given them any thought, until a friend pointed out some comments she had seen online. Some considered it backward even borderline abusive to pierce a child’s ears. As for me, I doubt Simone or Nadia will ever corner me one day and demand to know why I had their ears pierced.
So, what do you say? Have you pierced your daughter’s ears? If so, why? If not, why not?