I’ve never exactly been the type to take risks, or really go out of my way to do something that I could possibly be judged for. I’m 22 and I know it’s silly, but I sometimes find it hard to try new styles or activities that broaden the definition of who I am out of fear that someone will call me out on being something or someone I’m not. So, when I was browsing Pinterest and saw a picture of Hayden Panettiere with the cutest little stud in the top of her ear, I imagined what it would look like on me and then kept browsing. As I kept browsing, however, my mind kept wandering back to that photo and how I would look with that piercing. Hayden’s piercing isn’t that radical, outlandish, or even attention-grabbing. The more I thought about it, the more my mind simultaneously concluded that I wanted one and that I would never get one. Cue the insecurity.
As good as I thought a cartilage piercing would look on me, I was nervous how friends, family, and colleagues would react. What if the first few people who saw it thought it was garish and I started second-guessing myself? What if I got the piercing and decided it stuck out like a sore thumb on me? What if a stranger wrongly judged me based on that piercing? What if someone who knew me really well just didn’t think it matched my personality? A whole host of concerns popped in my head, most of them revolving around this piercing changing my style and how the people who knew me best would react to that.
My thoughts then jumped to the numerous times I’d gone shopping and neglected to buy something I really wanted because I didn’t think it fit in with my style and personality: that slinky LBD, those brightly colored wedge heels, etc. I had a realization that I was holding myself back and stopping myself from doing what I wanted out of fear of judgement. Undeserved judgement is unfortunately common these days so while it’s a fair concern to have, I realized it was no excuse to stop myself from the natural personal evolution most people go through.
The question no longer became, ‘will this piercing look good on me,’ but rather, ‘do I have the courage to do something that will make me happy and deal with any minor negativity that may accompany my decision?’ Now, to be fair, this decision took a little more effort to think about because getting a piercing takes a little more effort than simply purchasing an item of clothing. I had to consider price, the thought of someone sticking a needle through my ear, pain, minor discomfort while it heals, and the possibility of it getting infected. Also, a piercing takes several weeks to heal and cannot be removed during the healing period, whereas a piece of clothing can easily be taken off or returned if you don’t like it.
In the end, after several hours of obsessively googling pictures of cartilage piercings and reading testimonials about pain and the possibility of infection, I decided that if I didn’t go straight from work to the tattoo & piercing parlor, I would never do it. This became a matter of courage rather than style, and I was determined to not disappoint myself and just go through with it. Sure, it would hurt (it did), and sure, some people weren’t going to like it (someone important certainly didn’t), but it made me happy so I was going to do it. In retrospect, the tiny fleck of silver on the top of my ear is barely noticeable and much more apparent to me than to others. It’s certainly not major enough to warrant a style change, and I definitely over-analyzed the implications this piercing would have on how I look. The first 24 hours after my piercing I thought the stud looked huge and super noticeable, but after only a few days of having it I’ve adjusted to it and have already accepted it as part of my style and personality. While it may be barely noticeable, the fact that it’s there reminds me that change is gradual and something that everyone should be happy and proud to embrace. Also, I think this little silver gem is cute as fuck.
TESTIMONIAL OF MY EXPERIENCE
Price: $65 including the piercing earring (Cambridge, MA)
Style: Needle. Guns force a blunt stud through your ear, causing damage to the cartilage and increasing the risk of infection and a bump at the exit wound. Employees who use guns are often minimally trained and don’t quite understand much about piercings beyond general and vague information. Your risk for infection increases when you use a gun because you have to twist the earring a few times a day (in order to stop the skin from sticking to the stud), and the fastest way to infect a new piercing is by introducing the germs your hands carry to your new piercing (you don’t have to twist the earring when you get pierced with a needle). It is also more sanitary to use a needle, which will be used on you and you alone, than to use a gun that has touched countless ears. True, it’s cheaper to go to a jewelry store and have an employee use a gun than to go to a piercing parlor and have a needle used, but please keep in mind you are paying for a better quality piercing and much lower risk of infection (these are things worth paying for!)
Pain: Yes, getting a needle poked through a 1/4 inch of cartilage is painful, but a pain which is completely manageable. I hate needles and have a very low tolerance for pain and I survived. The actual piercing feels like a strong pinch but that pain went away once the stud was inserted (the whole process took no more than 5 seconds). Afterwards, my ear felt very hot, and also looked red, for about 30 minutes. If you have a low tolerance to pain like me, I suggest you have something planned immediately after your piercing to distract yourself. For example, I biked home from the piercing parlor and while I was aware of a slight throbbing in my ear, I was distracted enough to not think of myself as being in pain. When I got home I took 2 Advil, which was completely necessary to allow me to sleep and also helped with the pain (it probably would’ve been a good idea to take Advil right before the actual piercing took place). For the rest of the night I was aware of a minor discomfort in my ear but by focusing on things like cooking and reading, I was able to ignore it. For the first 24 hours, I was aware of a minor throbbing in my ear but nothing majorly distracting. However, I did accidentally hit the piercing twice during the first 24 hours and it was extremely painful for a few seconds, and then throbbed for a few minutes. (For example, I got a strand of hair stuck in the back of my piercing and it was downright painful to get it out). For the first 3-5 days after my piercing, it was only painful when touched and even then, the pain decreased every day. After a full 9-10 days, my piercing stopped hurting when touched and I no longer worry about hitting it when getting dressed, showering, etc.
Things to consider: It takes about 1-2 weeks for the piercing to be completely pain-free so it’s important to consider how well you deal with pain. I do not deal with pain very well and had to be very cautious for about 5 days when I changed my clothes, combed my hair, and showered because hitting my piercing was painful. It took about 10 days for me to be able to sleep on my left side (the side where I got the piercing) because applying pressure to that ear was painful. As a result, I did not sleep well for a few days (I like to move around a lot when I sleep), and that’s definitely something you should think about when deciding when to get your ear pierced. Also, consider the fact that you cannot take the piercing out for 8-12 weeks, so if you have an event to go to where you might want to hide your earring, plan on wearing your hair down.
CELEBRITY CARTILAGE PIERCINGS
Just to prove that cartilage piercings aren’t just for teenage girls and can look good in any setting…