So, over the past few days — weeks, actually — I’ve been contemplating getting my 9-month-old daughter’s ears pierced. The desire to do it was triggered a few months ago when I went to the hospital to do my daughter’s usual bi-monthly check-up. My daughter, Zohal, was four months old at the time and seated across from me was a young woman who also had an infant that looked like she was close to my daughter’s age. And, of course, considering that we were both the only women there with infants and the fact that we were seated right across from each other, it was only natural for us to smile at each other and spark up a conversation, starting with the usual, “Congratulations. Your baby is so cute. How old is she/he?” It turned out that the woman’s daughter was a little older than Zohal; she was actually six months old and indeed quite a perky little thing. I quickly noticed that her little lobes were pierced with tiny, diamond-studded tops. Sure enough, I was taken. Hard. And I couldn’t resist asking the woman about it.
“I got her ears pierced just as soon as she turned six months. She didn’t even cry or feel a thing. I would suggest you get it pierced as soon as she turns six or seven months old, and definitely before her first birthday, otherwise her lobes will become too sensitive and it will hurt later.”
Those were the exact words the woman said to me, and while I felt that piercing a six-month-old baby’s ears was a little too early and perhaps even “wrong,” I couldn’t help thinking just how adorable they looked. I even recently suggested the idea to my husband and, he, being the lovable and protective father that he is, quickly disagreed. Upon asking why, he simply told me that he’d hate to see our daughter go through pain — any pain — and that it’s best that she get them pierced later, say when she’s around 16-years-old or so. A tad over-exaggerated, yes, as I suspect it won’t take our daughter that long to pierce her ears; but still, I adore the hubby and respect his feelings towards the whole thing. I mean it is a sensitive subject, no doubt.
However, my being the stubborn mule that I am, I didn’t want to end this discussion about body piercings and babies too soon. And, so, a few days ago, I decided to make the topic on baby piercings my Facebook status, just to hear/read about other people’s — friends and acquaintances alike — perspectives, experiences and suggestions on the topic. To my great surprise, shortly after posting the status, I received a rush of feedback and suggestions. There were indeed quite a mixed array of recommendations. Some suggested that I get my baby’s ears pierced as soon as possible, as the older she gets, the more it will hurt (similar to what the woman I’d met at the clinic had suggested), while a couple others (and this is what inspired me to dismiss the idea of piercing my daughter’s ears all together) told me that I do not and should not have the right to my daughter’s body, and that she — my daughter — is her own person and piercing her ears, without her consent, goes against her right to make choices and decisions. Upon reading this, I immediately felt embarrassed, ashamed even, for thinking about piercing my baby’s ears, knowing very well that she is too young to understand and certainly too young to make and accept that decision. I was more ashamed of the fact that I was willing to do something that totally goes against my ideologies, my principles, and pretty much everything I promote, uphold and believe in. How could I have been so blind, so selfish, so thoughtless, to focus so heavily on the superficial aspect of piercing my baby’s ear, when a deeper, underlying aspect of the freedom of choice was at stake? The last thing I’d ever want to do is snatch my beautiful daughter of her ability to choose for herself.
Come to think of it, if I were to go ahead and pierce my baby’s ears, to me, it would almost be no different than circumcision, which unfortunately is normalized and encouraged across various cultures and some religions (Abrahamic, in particular, especially with regards to male circumcision). And while it may seem drastic to compare something as “small” as a piercing to circumcision, the premise upon which these actions are based and imposed are exactly the same, and that is the matter of consent. Besides, who are we to make decisions for our children — decisions, which are more or less selfish in nature? Is it because we believe that we, as adults, are always right and know what is “best” for our kids? Perhaps. But, the reality is far from it. Very far from it, in fact; for, no, we do not always know what it best for our kids and, no, the decisions we make to control our kids’ lives is not always a good or positive one. It may perhaps appear good, because it is conventionalized and is considered a social norm, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is right, or moral.
So, as much as I love ear piercings, I will leave it up to my daughter to decide when and if she wants to do it. She will not grow up not remembering when she got her ears pierced. Nor will she grow up feeling forced and traumatized from the pain that accompanies body piercings. I can’t and will not allow myself to be so cruel, so selfish, when it comes to my baby’s body. And this is my personal belief. Of course, people — other parents — are free to do whatever they wish when it comes to their own children. I am no one to pass judgement, and I shouldn’t, for to each his or her own. However, personally, I will not do this to my daughter, especially since piercings are permanent (for the most part, anyway).
My baby is only nine months old right now and has all the time in the world to think about such things. We can certainly pause on the ear piercing idea until my daughter is old enough to understand. And if and when that day finally arrives (whenever that shall be) that my little girl decides she wants pretty things dangling from her ears, and is confident/ready enough to get them pierced, I’ll be the last person to say no.