A Latina mom’s opinion: To pierce or not to pierce the baby
That is the question…on the minds of many moms with Latin American backgrounds. Lucky for me, my baby girl was born in Miami where the tradition of ear piercing was considered more normal than not piercing and where her poor mother wouldn’t have to endure the wrath of apparently just about anyone who reads The New York Times.
Today, on the Times’ website, a Townies series column on the Opinionator page told the story of Eleni N. Gage and her daughter Amalía. They live in Miami and Amalía’s father is Nicaraguan while Ms. Gage is from Massachusetts. Apparently, Ms. Gage struggled with the idea of conforming to the Latin American customs she was discovering in Miami, but with a little push from her husband’s side of the family, decided to go for it and have her 6 month old daughter’s ears pierced by her pediatrician.
After I had a brief chuckle over the familiar story – and her amusing observations about Miami – I started reading the comments. Apparently, Ms. Gage and I are “horrible”, “selfish”, “low class”, anti-feminist jerks for putting our daughters through something as stupid and painful as ear piercing.
Really? I just thought I was being Cuban.
Now I know things have gotten a little heated with the current debate about women’s health, and some people are concerned that it all means a step backwards for those of us raised with a good dose of feminist pride. I am just as concerned as the next gal when it comes to that stuff. But, I mean, come on. This is ear piercing. Have you had your ears pierced? Not that big of a deal. You can even take them out. The holes close up.
Of course, the day I pierced my daughter’s ears I was a bit more emotional than I thought I would be, as you can see in the video above. There is definitely something a little tough about watching your child endure any pain – whether it be from ear piercing, vaccinations or falling down when learning to walk. I did have some second thoughts. But, really, she cried for all of a few minutes and now loves the little gold-posted ladybugs adorning her ear lobes. If she decides to take them out in a few years, fine. But I doubt she will. And I am happy she won’t remember being scared or the pain the way so many of my friends did when we went to the mall to have it done at some cosmetic counter. More importantly perhaps, she has participated in a tradition that links me with my grandmothers, mother and sister.
I suspect and hope that she’ll be okay with my decision. Through the years, I’ve decided to wear earrings, and sometimes I’ve removed them because I just didn’t feel like it. In high school, when I was more of a jock than a make-up loving girlie girl, I went years without them. It’s never even occurred to me to be upset about it. And it certainly never occurred to me to be judgmental about other people’s choices on the matter.
But, I don’t know. What do you think? Is ear piercing bad for girls or just a harmless cultural tradition? Discuss on our Facebook page.
Full disclosure: My daughter’s name is Amelia and my husband’s from Massachusetts so perhaps that is adding to the kinship I feel with Ms. Gage.