Babies, Parenting

Do you think it is cruel to pierce a baby’s ears?

Melissa Imbesi by Melissa Imbesi
July 22nd, 2017

When I was about eight years old, I was desperate to get my ears pierced. All of my friends had theirs done and about 75% of my day was spent staring longingly at their sparkly studs, wishing that I had them too. The problem wasn’t that my parents wouldn’t allow it, it was that I was too shit-scared to have it done. My mum took me to the local chemist about seven times and each time was the same story; I’d sit in the chair, they’d mark my ear with that purple pen, and then – I was out. “No, no. I’m not ready. I want to go home.” On that seventh visit, Mum had had a gut full of my shenanigans and called time on my wimpy behaviour. “It’s now, or it’s never,” she told me and I knew by the look in her eye and the fact that she was practically sitting on top of me that she meant business.  And I’m so happy she did because now, earrings are my favourites.

Nine years ago with my girl. Pierced ears and all.

Nine years ago with my girl. Pierced ears and all.

Many years later when I became a mum myself, I made the decision to have my daughter’s ears pierced at six months old. I know – I made that decision without her consent and yes, I was second-guessing myself the entire time. I sat her on my lap as two technicians stood on either side of her and on the count of three, an earring was inserted into each of her ears at the same time. She cried for literally 20 seconds, and then it was over. She was smiling and waving and goohing and gaahing just as she was before those two little holes were added.

Nine years on, I have not one inkling of regret about piercing my baby’s ears. As an eight year old, I was constantly touching my new ear candy and as a consequence, ended up with a raging infection in one of my piercings. My daughter didn’t touch hers once and because she was a baby, I was able to clean and care for them with zero complaints. She didn’t have to grapple with the fear associated with having them pierced as an older child. She has no memory of it; no weird fear of chemists or the smell of antiseptic. Before writing this, I asked her if she was happy I made the decision to pierce her ears as a baby or if she’d wished I had waited and let her make the decision for herself. Her verbatim response was- “I’m happy you did it because I don’t remember. I would’ve been too scared now.” It’s not for everyone and I’m certainly not trying to convince anyone to agree with my decision, but it worked for us.

when I became a mum myself, I made the decision to have my daughter’s ears pierced at six months old.

The video of this babe having her ears pierced has upset many.

The video of this babe having her ears pierced has upset many.

I’m not sure if infant ear piercing has always been controversial, but it definitely is today. Video footage of a four-month-old baby having her ears pierced went viral last year with many outraged parents calling it cruel, vain and even likening it to child abuse. Now, I totally accept that some people are downright opposed to it. I’ll also accept that they’ll be people who would view me as vain and cruel for making that decision for my daughter at such a young age – but child abuse? Maybe if you were piercing them every week, then yeah, I’d agree. In a world where thousands of children are being beaten, starved and sexually and emotionally abused, I find it beyond ridiculous that ear piercing is even remotely associated with that kind of behaviour.

The thing I really grapple with here is WHY videos like these are even put online in the first place? It feels as though there is this constant need to share the decisions we make as parents and try to convince others to agree with us, giving those who don’t a platform to put in their two cents worth. We ALL parent differently and we all make choices that would no doubt outrage others at one point or another. From controlled crying to circumcision to religious ceremonies such as baptisms, there are all kinds of practises and rituals we choose for our kids that they are unable to consent to, yet we make those decisions on their behalf because we think they’re right. We’ll never agree on everything but the beauty is, we don’t have to. We’re all just doing our best…and if piercing my baby daughter’s ears is the most ‘abuse’ she’ll ever experience in her life, then I’d consider us pretty #blessed.

Where do you stand on infant ear piercing?

Bec Judd spoke about infant ear piercing, tatts and a whole heap of other stuff when she joined us on Show+Tell Radio last year. Have a listen below, then subscribe to our podcast here.

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