Almost every culture through history has enhanced their appearance by inserting objects and dyes under the surface of their skin, often with a basis in religious or mystical beliefs. Archeologists have found Egyptian and Macedonian jewelry for pierced ears dating back to 2,000 BC, and many contemporary cultures preserve the piercing of ears, nose, lips etc as a rite of passage from childhood. Our own culture treats the practice of piercing as cosmetic.
In the 1960's, only a minority of women (and almost no men) had their ears pierced. Today ear piercing is considered an everyday fact. We have seen more men wearing earrings in the last 15 years, and jewelry in the nose is now common in both sexes. Piercing is regularly used to place jewelry almost anywhere on the body and individuals are wearing jewelry where they wish (in ear, nose, nipple, navel, etc).
We predict that the acceptance of body piercing will grow over the next 50 years much the same way as the acceptance of ear piercing has grown over the last 50.
Unfortunately, many piercings are a mutual service performed in ignorance by friend upon friend, poorly done, and at best uncomfortable. The risk of infection, loss of function and disfigurement are too great to allow a friend with a sewing needle to attempt a do-it-yourself job. Body piercings are relatively simple procedures if the technician has the knowledge and the correct tools. (Piercing guns should NEVER be used any place but the fleshy part of the ear lobe!)
To find out more about proper piercing procedures, visit our Public Health Page.
The jewelry used for body piercing today is a far cry from what was available 20 years ago. There has been a literal explosion of knowledge about the requirements of the piercing and the suitability of materials. The captive bead ring, today the standard style used for most fresh piercings, first made its appearance in the late 1980's. Nobody is sure who first proposed the barbell. Other styles are based in traditional jewelry, some which can be dated back hundreds of years with certainty.
The problem today is one of extreme variety. There are so many variations available, some suitable for one piercing but not another, that many are buying (and many are selling) JEWELRY WHICH IS NOT SUITABLE FOR ITS INTENDED PURPOSE. To learn more about matching jewelry to a piercing, visit our Body Jewelry Page. and our section on aftercare and maintenance of specific body piercings.
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