This weekend I made it to 000g. For those of you who don't know, that just means that my earlobes are almost at a 1/2 inch in diameter (they will be on Friday!!). There are many different ways to stretch your ears, but I've chosen a slower process where I go to East End Dermagraphics every two weeks and have my friend, Carli, do her thing. She uses a taper, which is a long metal tube that gradually increases in diameter. I've tried doing it at home myself, and I just can't take the pain. Plus, I really like her company and we have fun picking out jewelry together.
Eventually, my goal is to get my earlobes to about the diameter of a quarter - 24 mm. This will take me a few months, and is not exactly a cheap habit (my jewelry usually costs around $35-45). People often ask me why, and unfortunately I don't really have a deep or profound reason. I like the way it looks and think it's cool that I can push my body to these limits.
The other day, I stumbled across a blog post that made me want to address this topic myself. The woman, whom will remain unnamed, was venting about how her niece was "ruining her life" (and more importantly: future career options) by stretching her ears to a size 8g. For those of you who don't know, 8g is pretty small and will easily close up once the jewelry has been removed for a few weeks. Also, many of the jewelry options at this size aren't noticeable at all -for girls anyway- because they look like those large, button style earrings that are very common these days. If you have longer hair, even more of a plus if you need to make it less noticeable for work or other reasons.
I'll admit, I have been extremely lucky in my career in terms of my body modifications. I have a large collection of very noticeable tattoos that I don't put a lot of effort into hiding except for the rare instance that I'm on a job interview or some place that I don't feel like drawing attention to myself. My nose is also pierced and of course I have stretches my earlobes. Still, I have managed to build a pretty great reputation for myself professionally and I attribute that to almost 8 years of hard work in the social work field - I have a great relationship with professionals in my community and across the state who are also in the field, I'm good at my job, and I'm smart. My tattoos and piercings don't define me; they are just an extension of who I am. Employers have always understood and supported that. I've never once been asked to cover up anything or take any piercings out.
With that said, I take extra care to make sure I dress nice and that I keep my hair down when I'm working. I understand that there's a time and a place for the attention that undoubtedly comes with body modifications, and work is not that place. I have found that if I don't make a big deal out of it, others don't notice as much.
I think it's important that people understand that you can push societal boundaries of what's culturally "attractive" and the world will not come to an end. If you think something looks good and you are educated in the commitment required, go for it. Nobody hassles some one about coloring their hair or painting their nails or any of the other things that we do to enhance how we look. If you aren't hurting anyone, why should anyone else care?
What I would like to say to the woman who was complaining about her niece is this. Stop judging her for something you don't understand, and at least give her enough respect to do a little research or tell her your concerns in private. Also, as long as you have confidence in yourself, are smart, and are good at what you do - you will find an employer who values you for more than the way that you look.
That's how it's always been for me anyway.