My daughter wanted her ears pierced, and her experience showed her exactly what consent and control over her own body looks like.
Parenting SPM/MM

On Ear Piercing and Consent

My daughter wanted her ears pierced, and her experience showed her exactly what consent and control over her own body looks like.

By Rhiannon Giles of

My daughter, Lorelei, begged for almost a year to get her ears pierced. She knew I had gotten mine done when I was eight years old and she wanted to do the same. For a while, I put her off, because she was being fairly wishy-washy on the whole thing. She would make grand exclamations of intention and then cry ten seconds later about the idea.

Finally, she seemed determined. I wanted to take her to a piercing specialist, not a kiosk or accessory store in the mall. While there are a variety of reasons for this, they are not the point of this post. The point of this post is consent.

Her body, her rules.

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You’ve probably seen the articles going around that an employee at Claire’s was told to follow the mother’s wishes to pierce her little girl’s ears, even as the girl was screaming no.

That, my dears, is the opposite of consent.

I asked around to find out the best place and several people recommended Robert atĀ Glenn’s Tattoo ServiceĀ in Carrboro, NC.

So, one nice Saturday in November, we decided it was time. The closer we got to the shop, the more nervous she became. As we stood around looking at the tattoo examples, she was in that adrenaline-filled state of fear and eager anticipation.

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I honestly wasn’t sure which way it was going to go.

Robert, arms full of tattoos and a huge red beard, led us back and had Lorelei sit on the reclining chair. I could see her swallow hard as he began to talk.

“While you are in this shop, you make the rules. I’ll tell you everything I’m doing, no surprises. If you want me to stop at any point at all, just tell me and I will. If you decide you don’t want to do this, nobody will be mad. Nobody will make fun of you. You are in charge.”

He stayed true to his word and told her every single thing he was doing. He let her take a break between ears and hug her stuffed animal. He handed both her and her little brother lollipops at the end.

This morning, I told her about the drama with Claire’s — she was appalled. I asked her to tell me about her experience.

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“He told me I make the rules. I mean, about that, not about everything. It made me feel comfortable.”

I mentioned that he said she could stop at any time and nobody would be mad. Having since accompanied a nervous friend as moral support, she said, “Yeah. If I hadn’t really believed that, I would have never gone with Evelyn to get hers done.”

So much of parenting is picking your battles. Are there times where you have to forgo consent? Absolutely. Sometimes you have to make tough choices in the name of safety and health. I want her to trust that if I am taking away control of her body that it is for safety — not fashion.

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