BODY PIERCING, the practice of puncturing or cutting a certain part of the human body to create an opening for jewelry, has long been a symbol of deviance. It has been especially tabooed in East Asian countries, where Confucian ideas that strongly reject body modification are prevalent. However, with an increasing number of celebrities who wear piercing and the generalization of the procedure, piercing has become more acceptable in mainstream culture, even in East Asia. Although negative views on piercing still persist, especially from the older generation, piercing is now becoming more common statement, especially the younger generation.
Piercing, an ancient and modern instinct
Although it seems like a culture that started only recently, piercing has been practiced since the ancient times. Although no historical record about its origin is available, it is estimated that the piercing practice started about 5,000 years ago. The oldest mummy to be found with a pierced ear, which is one of the first body parts men had pierced, was identified to be approximately 5,300 years old.
Piercing has been practiced around the world for various purposes, the most general being to signify social status and power. For example, Aztec and Mayan aristocrats pierced their noses and adorned them with bones and feathers to display wealth and authority. Also, in ancient Egypt, only aristocrats could wear gem-studded, golden earrings. Body piercing also served as a ritual based on superstitious or religious beliefs. Piercing for religious purposes was especially common in India, where the act of piercing was strongly associated with the worship of Hindu Gods. For example, Indians thought that earrings were connected to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, who symbolizes wealth, fortune and prosperity.
Piercing was also quite widespread in most of the ancient Korean dynasties. Ear piercing was especially popular in the *Silla* dynasty, when both men and women wore earrings as amulets to avert evil spirits. People in *Goryeo* dynasty also wore earrings to display their power. The custom of wearing earrings was widespread until mid-*Chosun* dynasty, when the state officially prohibited the practice regardingpiercing as a barbaric custom that opposed Confucian ideals.
The modern form of piercing started in western countries. Piercing became popular among Hippies during the 1960s. In the 1970s, it was also embraced by the punk subculture, which popularized piercing by introducing new elements such as safety pins. Piercing prospered especially in the United States in the 1970s. Two modern piercing pioneers, Doug Malloy and Jim Ward, opened the first professional body-piercing studio called Gauntlet Enterprises in the United States. The studio’s early customers were mainly homosexuals, but it became widely known as a trendy shop and attracted other customers as well. Finally, in the 1990s, piercing entered the mainstream fashion in the United States. The popularity of piercing spread worldwide, even in South Korea. Piercing was first introduced in South Korea in the mid 1990s. Due to the negative views towards body alteration, it did not became widely popular until the late 2000s.
Where to pierce
1. Outer Conch:
- Became popular in South Korea after many celebrities had pierced this part.
- Recommended jewelry: Straight barbell piercings / ring piercings
- People with a small tragus cannot pierce this part but those who prefer simplicity should give it a try.
- Recommended jewelry: Small and simple jewelry
3. Inner conch:
- This part is very thick, so it takes relatively longer time to be healed after being pierced.
- Recommended jewelry: Straight barbells, circular barbells, rings
- Notorious for being very painful, people who want a special piercing can get one on the rook because it is relatively rare
- Recommended jewelry: Only bent jewelry - circular barbells, banana barbells, rings
5. Forward helix:
- Industrial helix penetrates both forward helix and outer conch. This is a very special type of piercing as not many piercings connect two parts of an ear.
- Recommended jewelry: Small sized rings and straight barbells
Pain: Rook> Forward helix> Tragus> Inner Conch> Outer Conch (but widely differs from people to people. Only to be used as a reference)
For beginners: Outer Conch > Tragus> Inner Conch> Forward helix> Rook
Guidelines for piercing
Piercing that intentionally punctures a bare flesh or cartilage should be done very safely. Firstly, it should be done with an antiseptic tool in a clean environment. You should visit tidy shops that use disposable needles, not the ones that use the same needles. You could also do it yourself, but in this case, you should use a special piercer that can only be used once.
After getting the ear pierced, there are rules to be followed to heal the injury quickly. Most importantly, the pierced area should never be touched with unwashed hands because a touch can cause infection. Jewelry should also not be changed during the first month because even a small stimulus of the pierced part can cause infection. In addition, to quickly heal the pierced part, apply ointment (not hydrogen peroxide) for the first two weeks. Furthermore, there are also other daily habits such drinking alcohol, smoking, eating greasy food, taking a sauna, etc. that should be avoided.
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Piercing,especially that of ears, has now occupied a leading position in the mainstream fashion. Although it still seems frightening to some, adequate piercing boosts people’s style and beauty. Rather than baselessly denouncing the piercing culture as defiant and unpleasant, we should accept piercing as a good way to express and develop individuality. Although piercing causes pain, after the short painful moment, your new piercing will definitely add beauty and charm to your fashion.