Getting Pierced the Old-Fashioned Way

I had my ears pierced when I was five, yet I remember it like it was yesterday. I sat on a kitchen chair while my aunt rubbed a freshly-cut piece of ginger against my earlobes as though she were marinating meat. I wasn’t fully aware of what was to happen. I just liked having my older cousins gathered around paying attention to me. My aunt dotted my lobes with magic marker, threaded two needles with red string, and heated them over the burner.

Everyone wore exaggerated smiles, staring at me like I was some kind of oddity. Why? I didn’t know it at the time, but I’ve come to realize after all these years that they were sadists—not in the true sense, of course, but they were anxious to see my reaction nonetheless. My mother, on the other hand, stood against the wall with a worried look. The moment she turned her head away from me was when the needle punctured my earlobe.

I wailed!

I thrashed about and tried pulling the thread hanging from my ear. My mother stood frozen while my cousins consoled me. Eventually, with a bribe of my favourite dessert, I calmed down long enough to have my other lobe pierced. Thankfully, I didn’t feel a thing this time. As promised, I was treated later that day to lime Jello and proudly pranced around with red thread through my ears. A month later, the thread was replaced by gold dangling hoops.

Unlike girls who’ve had their ears pierced the traditional way with a piercing gun in a mall jewelry store, my holes have never closed. I’m quite certain I could stick rusty nails in them, and they wouldn’t become infected. Hypoallergenic? Ha! There was no such thing back then.

Here I am modeling my first pair of earrings. Please ignore the dreadful outfit.



31 responses to “Getting Pierced the Old-Fashioned Way

  1. Pingback: Blogging at BIWP |

  2. I pierced my ears myself with a sterilized needle. 13 year olds do the darnedest things.

  3. Weren’t you the cutest little thing! I have one ear pierced with the piercing gun when my wife and mother dared me to do it. I was in my late thirties.


  4. *laughs* I got taken to the doctor’s office for my first set. I think the second was at a mall store. My older sister put her second holes in with a safety pin. 😛

    • Wow, your first set sounds like surgery.

      I’m happy I was too young to know what was happening.

      Safety pin? I hope you caught that on video! 🙂


      • I grew up in a small town so there wasn’t a mall or anything to be had. The doctor’s was actually the closest place within about two hours where you could get it done. 😀

      • I forgot to mention. Oddly enough I’ve never had a problem with my holes closing. Even the second set that was done with a gun. I did have a single third one done up on the top of my left ear, but I let it close because I couldn’t get the damn thing to heal enough to wear a ring in it. 😀

  5. You’re right about holes made with a piercing gun closing. Once upon a time, I had three holes in my left ear: a star and two chains. They’ve become two dimples and a nothing. 😀

  6. eden, getting my ears pierced was just another part of my competition with my baby sister. I HAD to wait until I was 13 to get mine pierced, my sister got hers done when she was 10 or so. Being the oldest sucked sometimes!


  7. My mom and her roommates pierced each other’s ears in nursing school with sterile needles and ice cubes. I did the piercing gun thing at a beauty salon when I was twelve. I rarely wear earrings and when I do, I have to break skin to get them through. Really glad mom didn’t let me get a second piercing.

    • Hey Amelia, thanks for commenting.

      I was never interested in more than one piercing. My earlobes aren’t big enough, and piercing into cartilage is not my idea of a good time!


  8. Omg, was it Aunt #2 who pierced your ears?!! I guess I’m so use to the whole mall ear piercing thing that I wouldn’t be able to imagine just using a regular needle… no wonder you were wailing! Well, good thing everything turned out well… I’d still go to the mall though =) Thanks for sharing your story!!

    • Hmm…actually it was an aunt “by proxy” – an imposter! My dad’s sister in law, not really blood…until she drew my blood, of course….I digress.

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  9. Ouchie! I got mine done at the mall. I wouldn’t want someone coming at my earlobes with a needle. And yet, I have no problem getting tattoos. 😀


  10. I want to adopt that little girl!

    I’ve never had my ears pireced but I remember when my sister got it done– at home. Back then the accepted method was to put ice on the lobes to take the feeling away and then the needle. My sons asked me if they could get their ears done and I said sure, but first we have to go pick out the dress you’re going to wear with it. Didn’t hear any more about it. lol.Yes, I was a mean dad.

    Great story, Eden.

  11. It just sounds so painful and you were so young. Did you ask to have them pierced? Love the outfit by the way!

    • Yes, 5 was young, but I’ve seen much younger girls with earrings these days, and I don’t recall asking to have them pierced. I think my family used me as an experiment!

      My outfit -ugh…to this day I never wear flower prints!


  12. You are the most adorable human being on the face of this planet. Thank you for sharing your story.

  13. I believe getting a little girls ears pierced is unquestionable. They look adorable…i am a africian american woman that has had her ears pierced since child birth by my aunt which used a needle and thread. She burned the needled with fire.. Cleaned needle in alcohol..numbed ears with ice.. Made each piercing on both earlobes then tied off.. As for cleaning.. We wld uses alcohol each day and vaseline to keep the thread from sticking and make sure you can turn the thread through the hole each day easily from using the vaseline.. She always used white thread due to coloring on thread may or may not cause infection.. Or she would take a piece of straw from the broom that was bundled high that never touch the floor break a piece off clean with alcohol burn on both sides and use until the ears healed with same care as the thread.. We never had infections nor kiloids … All the girls in the family and the time we had atleast 11 girls between 3 sisters … When i reached 16 i pierced my nose same way .. Ice , burned needle and straw… Same care for cleaning ..No infections .. I am now 47.. Earlobes never closed…total 2 piercings on lubes .. One on higher right cartridge and both tragus done.. This is old fashion piercing..

  14. Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciat you writing
    this write-up and the rest of the site is really good.

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