Tag Archives: body image

Get That Gun Away from My Daughter!

10 Apr

So here’s the scene: my 4-year-old daughter is sitting in a chair at the front of Claire’s boutique at the mall.  She’s about to get her ears pierced.  She’s terribly excited – she’s been asking to do this for ages and I’ve finally relented.

marking where the holes will be...

And now here comes the lady with the plastic gun.  It’s loaded with a cute, rainbow-colored daisy earring…

BAM!  The right ear is done.

My daughter starts to cry, either from the pain or the noise or the shock of it all.  I hold in all of my tears and grief and weird feelings and try not to make a scene.  My daughter, however, wants to make a scene.  A really big one.

She’s freaked out, and no amount of coaxing is going to convince her to sit still to have her other ear done.

My husband alternates between bribery and threats to get her to comply.  Dear daughter keeps saying she wants more time to think (in-between heaving sobs).  Every time hubby thinks he’s gotten her calmed down, she loses it all over again as soon as she sits in that chair.

Fifteen minutes go by.  Then thirty.  Then an hour.  By this point, I can hardly even swallow, I’m so stressed.

Soon a crowd of onlookers gathers, all of them women.  A kindly old grandmother advises us to just hold our daughter down and force her to get the other ear pierced.  A pair of tween girls show off their own earrings, and amidst lots of forced oohing and aahing, they tell her how pretty she will be if she can just summon the courage to do her other ear.

Right about this point is when I feel the bile rise in my throat and realize I can’t take it anymore…it all just feels wrong.

Is this well-meaning group of people actually telling my 4-year-old that she should suffer through her fear and pain just for the sake of beauty??!!  This is not a life-saving vaccine we’re talking about – it’s jewelry!

Once I got my stomach unclenched and found my voice again, I spoke up and got us out of there.  We ate lunch and I took my daughter back to Claire’s to have the first earring taken out.  She was a little heartbroken about it, but she got over it.  I told her she could make the decision about getting her ears pierced when she was a little older, which seemed to take a huge weight off her shoulders.  This was just too much for her.

A few weeks ago I saw a fabulous documentary called Miss Representation.  To quote from the website (www.missrepresentation.org), “the film explores how the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence.”  The film was nauseating, and 100% right on the money.  Women are valued for their appearance, and chastised for not living up to certain standards – even when their jobs have nothing to do with their looks and everything to do with their intellectual capability.  (Remember all the media coverage of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin a few years ago – Hillary the ball-busting troll and Sarah the hot mom?)  I highly recommend watching the movie.  It’s eye-opening for anyone who is – or knows – a woman.

I kept thinking about that movie while my daughter was sitting there, wanting to go ahead with the other ear but scared stiff and now knowing what to do.  I shouldn’t have been such a coward; I should have spoken up right away and said:

“Hey, baby girl, you know what?  This is not an important thing in your life, or in the life of any woman.  It’s just decoration – it doesn’t define who you are or what kind of person you will be.  You’re beautiful because you’re kind and loving, not because of anything on your body.”

cute as a button, even without earrings

My 6-year-old son was too upset to stick around and watch his sister go through the piercing drama.  I hardly even knew what to tell him.  What message are we sending to our little girls – and our little boys – about this?  I know it’s “just” ear piercing, but is something OK if it’s painful or scary, as long as it improves your appearance or keeps up with everyone else’s expectations?

I was 4 when I got my own ears pierced, but my daughter may be 14.  Or 44.  Or maybe she’ll never do it, I don’t know.  It’s up to her when she feels that it’s worth it.  In the meantime, I hope she realizes – no, believes – that it really doesn’t matter.

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