Unprofessional, trashy, a marker of low self-esteem. These are just a few words that I have heard used to describe piercings.
While our society is fortunately moving toward eliminating that language about folks who choose to pierce their bodies, we aren’t there quite yet. Besides women having a single hole in their ear lobes, piercings still carry a stigma. Men with piercings have a sexuality assigned to them or are labeled as “creepy”; women with piercings are deemed undesirable and unprofessional.
I have 14 piercings. 12 are on my ears (6 each), one is in my left nostril, and one is in my belly button. I doubt my family (or employer) enjoys the fact I have that many holes on my head, but they certainly tolerate them. I’m fortunate to never have experienced discrimination for my piercings, but I know that others have.
I’m aware, however, that my piercings are tame in comparison to others, and that earrings and nose piercings do not carry the same social stigmas as tongue piercings or lip rings. No matter what, you do not deserve to be treated differently because of whatever jewelry you choose (or choose not) to wear in, on, or around your body.
I love all of my piercings, and most have a special memory or emotion attached to them. My piercings have helped me embrace my body, boost my self-esteem, and feel truly beautiful.
So I wanted to take a moment to express that by writing a love letter to my piercings.
To my first piercings, my standard earlobes,
I waited 14 years to get you because I played soccer year round and had to wait for the perfect opportunity. Now you house the diamond earrings the love of my life surprised me with one summer day in the car on the way to his family’s lake house, when he asked me to get him a napkin from the glove box. But I didn’t see any napkins; I saw a little black box, and that was so much better.
To my doubles,
You taught me a great lesson. The first time the woman at Claire’s shot a pointy silver post through you, you were uneven. My mom had to drive me all the back to the mall to get them fixed, and it was one of the most physically painful experiences of my life. I learned from you the most important lesson when it comes to piercings: always go to a tattoo parlor.
To my upper cartilage piercing,
I got you over spring break my junior year of high school. My mom and I were going to the tattoo parlor just for me, but my mother, always the savvy shopper, jokingly asked the piercer if we could get a discount if he pierced both of us. “Sure,” he said, and I watched with a red and throbbing right ear as he shoved a needle through hers a few minutes later. We laughed so hard.
To my tragus,
You were a graduation present from my aunt, who I have become especially close to over the past few years. My shaking and sweaty hands squeezed her calm and cool ones so hard, and for no reason at all. You were the least painful of them all.
To my rook,
You were my act of rebellion, the first piercing I ever got without telling my parents. I got you in December with a good friend of mine our freshman year of college, and every time I went outside, a cold gust of winter air would hit you and you would throb, aching until my ear went numb.
To my triple helix,
You remind me to be creative. Something about you looks ethereal, sophisticated, artsy. You have gotten infected so many times because twirling you around is my nervous habit. I have time and time again had to deal with one of the three of you because I ignored the piercer’s advice of leaving you alone. You remind me to listen to others who are wiser than me.
To my middle cartilage,
You may be my favorite. I got you in Luxembourg, during my semester-long study abroad adventure my sophomore year. Those were the craziest, coolest, most life-changing months of my life, and I get to see a small reminder of it every time I look in the mirror.
To my conch,
You were just for fun. No significance behind you other than I was hanging out with friends and we spontaneously decided to get piercings. I wasn’t sure what to get, but the piercer sold me on you when he said I’d look “badass.” You went from a “hey, why the hell not?” to visually, my favorite one of the 14.
To my nose ring,
You are my act of defiance. You are my subversion of what women should be: innocent, neutral, and meek. You are rebellious, opinionated, and impossible to miss. You undermine professionalism and I love knowing that older generations take one look at you and form an opinion about who I am.
And lastly, to my belly button ring,
You have skyrocketed my self-esteem. The part of my body I would avoid at all costs is now the first thing I look at when I get out of the shower or get dressed. For years, I avoided you because I thought I wasn’t thin enough to pull you off, but one day last year I just said “F*** it!!!!” and went and got it done. And I’ve been so much more comfortable in my skin with my curves ever since.
My piercings make me unique, make me feel special and confident and sure of myself. I encourage those who feel similarly to write their own love letters!
This post was originally featured on Elite Daily.