“You know you’re not really pretty, right?” Grandma tells little girl after she gets her ears pierced

Mary Duncan

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.*

I have always believed that what people do with their bodies and the changes they want to make to them, should be their choice and their choice alone. As in, a parent shouldn’t be able to alter their child’s body without their consent. You would never put a tattoo on your baby, right? But many parents have no problem at all piercing their baby’s ears when they are still infants and can’t make that choice for themselves. Sure, you can argue that earrings aren’t permanent, you can always take them out, but that doesn’t mean that they may leave a permanent scar.

What can be even more scarring than the small hole made in an earlobe are the words that a person can say to you about your body or your looks. “They” say that sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you. “They” are wrong.

My daughter Tori is seventeen and started expressing interest in getting a tattoo on her eighteenth birthday next year, and I argued with her that she has such a low pain tolerance for things like shots and small cuts, she would never be able to handle a tattoo gun. She argued that she could handle it, and I told her, let’s go see if you can handle getting your ears pierced first and then we’ll talk about a tattoo next year.

We headed to the mall, to the jewelry store where you can pick out your own studs and someone will use a tool to pierce them into your ears. It was a busy weekend afternoon and there were two young girls in line ahead of Tori. I waited in line with my daughter and watched as the first child, a teen of maybe twelve or thirteen, got her ears quietly pierced, thanked the jeweler, and walked off happily with her mom.

The next girl was younger, maybe about six or seven, and it looked like it was her grandmother who was accompanying her to get pierced - it was an older-looking woman, at any rate.

When the girl got into the chair I noticed that she had a cleft lip, which isn’t something you generally see with older kids these days - usually, they are surgically repaired as soon as possible. The cleft made it so her top teeth protruded out when she smiled and her lips took a downward turn, but anyone could see that the girl was excited and delighted to be getting her ears pierced.

When she was finished, she hopped off the chair and the jewelry held up a mirror to the girl’s face so she could see her newly pierced ears.

“Look how pretty!” The jeweler said. “You’re such a pretty girl,” she said again, and gave the giggling child a small hug before ringing up the grandmother’s charge.

As the jeweler sanitized her work area and got things prepared to pierce Tori’s ears, I saw the old woman put her arm around the little girl’s shoulders and lean down to her height. I heard it loud and clear when she said to the child:

“You know you’re not really pretty, right?”

I didn’t see the child’s face as they walked out of the store, but can only imagine how shattered and heartbroken she felt when someone who was supposed to care for her put her down so meanly. I was practically in tears myself when Tori hopped into the chair for her turn.

“Mom, what’s wrong?” Tori asked me.

“Nothing, babe, it’s just… some kids aren’t as lucky as you are. I love you,” I told her.

Then, a moment before the jeweler was about to pierce her first ear, Tori screamed “NOPE!” and jumped out of the chair.

She did not even want to try the ear piercing. I definitely don’t think there will be a tattoo in her near future.

Comments / 40

Published by

I write about the weird complexities of relationships to make a better life for me and my daughter through words. https://ko-fi.com/maryduncan

Connecticut State

More from Mary Duncan

Comments / 0