I was super excited last week to find out that a student at the high school I graduated from was writing a paper on piercing. My old English teacher, the only teacher I liked and have kept in touch with, sent me a message on facebook asking if it was okay for the student to interview me for her research paper. OF COURSE I said yes. I love opportunities to educate kids about piercing. I thought her questions were really good, so I decided to post them along with my answers here;
1. Did you pierce people in high school?
I was piercing people a lot in high school. I’m pretty ashamed of it now actually. I don’t tell many people.
2. What were the laws for piercing minors when you were in high school?
The thing about piercing in Maryland is; it’s not very regulated. It wasn’t when I was in high school and it’s not now. It’s the same in DC (where I work now), which is really dangerous. There is no license or school you can go to like with cosmetology.
3. What are the laws now for piercing minors (in Maryland)? (I'm a bit confused- is there a law that only applies to official parlors? Because a parlor I went to can't even pierce the ears of a 15 year old, but at Claire's they pierce kids much younger.)
In Maryland, because they don’t regulate piercing the only real law they enforce is that when piercing a minor a legal guardian must sign for them. Tattoo shops in Maryland can legally pierce someone at 15 with guardians consent but a lot of them object for moral/personal reasons. As a personal rule, the only thing I ever pierce on minors is ear lobes.
4. Do you agree with the laws in place?
No, I think we need very strict laws regarding piercing. Right now anyone can open a shop and call themselves a professional regardless of their (lack of) knowledge. Maryland doesn’t even enforce where you dump your used piercing needles or whether or not you use sterilized equipment. Half of what I do lately is fix other peoples hackwork.
5. Do you think that teenagers are capable of cleanly and safely giving themselves and each other safe piercings?
Absolutely not. Aside from not knowing where to properly place a piercing so that it will heal properly; Teenagers have no knowledge of blood borne diseases and do not have access to sterile equipment. They have no idea how to prevent cross contamination, and have nowhere to put their used needles. A lot of them think, “well I did it before and it was fine” or “my friend did it and it was okay” but if they were informed of all the real risks they put their bodies at they would probably think twice. It’s really not as easy as “well if it gets infected I’ll just take it out” because not only can this seal the infection inside your body allowing it to travel to other places via your blood stream but a true infection requires antibiotics and a doctors visit. I’ve seen people need to be quarantined in the ER and blood transfusions from such severe infections in an improperly done piercing.
6. What would your best advice be for a teenager who is too young to go to a parlor but who wants a nose or belly button piercing?
Do your research. Nothing bad can come from informing yourself. A lot of times there’s a good reason tattoo shops refuse to pierce minors. I get asked almost every day by minors for piercing, and it would be a lot easier for me to just take their money and pierce them. I certainly need the money(piercers don’t make much), but I have a few personal reasons why I find it inappropriate for someone so young to get pierced. I know it seems like an eternity to wait till you are 18, but in the end it’s better to do your research and first find out which shop will truly give you the best piercing experience so you know where to go when you turn 18. It’s a much better alternative then to have your friend pierce you in their bathroom and lose the top half of your ear because of an infection.
7. Do you have to turn away a lot of teenagers at your parlor who want to be pierced but are too young?
We do, and a lot of times they try to argue with us. The thing is, we are a high end shop doing what we feel is best for the customer. Maybe the customer doesn’t see that because they are immature, but that’s exactly why they need to really think about what they are doing and maybe wait a little longer.
8. What is your position at the parlor? (head piercer, etc.)
I am the piercing manager. I work 5 days a week.
9. Why do you think teenagers are so eager to be pierced?
I’m sure it really depends on the individual teenager. I know from a very young age I just wanted a ton of piercings. I always loved them, and I felt like I truly needed them. It was a really strong urge for me.
10. How many piercings do you have?
11. (to your knowledge) Have the laws restricting the piercings of minors affected Fatty's business in any way?
We’ve certainly missed out on money due to not piercing minors, but I think it makes me a better piercer in the end.
12. How did your parents feel about you having piercings in high school?
They absolutely hated it. I remember at times my dad wouldn’t even talk to me. They would try to ground me or take away privileges. I feel bad for giving them so much grief.
12. Is there anything else you would like to add
A great place to learn more about safe piercing is the APP’s(association of professional piercers) web site. They have tons of free info for anyone wanting to get pierced but doesn’t know where to start. Also, anyone is welcome to email me if they have any questions about piercing. I really feel like it’s important to educate kids because I hear so much false information being thrown around.