Agency + Confidence: In Support of Piercings
I have recently received comments such as: "Wow, your ears look unnecessarily expensive!" or "Why would you want so much metal in your body?" I have my own reasons, but I wanted to explore how body piercings affect confidence. Piercings are something I have spent a lot of time and money obtaining, and I wanted to give the subject some more attention. And by attention, I mean some legitimate research into why people are so drawn to this type of body modification. This will only be a glimpse into the subject, but I hope this provides at least some insight!
There is the obvious argument: people engage with body modifications because it is a form of self-expression. You can wear earrings which represent your stylistic aesthetic, or you can even wear piercings which represent your hobbies, passions, sexuality, heritage, culture, and more. This argument for self-expression with piercings is inarguable. But, how else can piercings specifically help with body confidence? It turns out, having a needle go through your skin can have life-long positive effects on the mind.
The most obvious point to make is getting piercings is a financial commitment. Making that expensive choice, and potentially permanently altering the body alongside that, has a certain affect on someone's mental health. Very few would say they make these choices impulsively. They are (and should be) expensive if performed with the right tools and from a careful, experienced technician.
This brings about the term "body investment", which explains itself. When one is able to make those commitments mentally and act on them in a tangible way, it proves to an individual what they are capable. This includes the ability to make life-long decisions, maintaining a sense of strength, carrying no shame in their choices, and so much more. In an article entitled Body Piercing, Tattooing, Self-Esteem, and Body Investment in Adolescent Girls, we can read "that many stressed the sense of commitment required to make the decision to pierce the body and/or tattoo, the relative permanence of such a decision, the experience of pain and discomfort involved, and the necessity for aftercare." Here we see how important the concept of ritual is. It isn't just the act of getting pierced which positively affects mental health, but the continued support of that choice every day in not just aftercare, but in public display.
This isn't the only time we see the concept of ritual appear when discussing piercings. As quoted in an article by Bradley University about body modifications, someone vouched “I’m getting pierced to reclaim my body. I’ve been used and abused. My body was taken by another without my consent. Now, by the ritual of piercing, I claim my body as my own. I heal my wounds". The ability to realize one's own agency with their body is an important part of self-awareness and overall happiness. If this is the method this individual needed to use to do so, then piercing provided a beautiful service to them. Needless to say, they are definitely not alone. In Body Piercing, Tattooing, Self-Esteem, and Body Investment in Adolescent Girls, the authors write about the act of "self-creation" when someone was pierced; the individual has changed their body by making a new mark. They asserted "an increased sense of self-confidence after having pierced or tattooed their bodies... the desire to mark the body supposedly emanated from some inner sense of self, rather than the opposite desire to create a particular image in order to be liked".
Ultimately, piercings provide a service to those under the needle. They are resolute, they are expressive, and they are in control; and that is only scratching the surface.
Piercings have made me feel more confident in my own skin in a way nothing else has, as it is so unique, so I am grateful it is something I have access to. One of my favorite compliments I've received from a friend was they said my ears "looked like constellations". That may seem strange to hold onto, as it is just a compliment about my ears. But, as someone who expresses herself through piercings, having it compared to the beauty of stars is something I won't forget, no matter how absurd that sounds!
Thanks for reading! Cheers.