Should Boys Have Their Ears Pierced?

My daughter (aged 5) had her ears pierced over the summer. She asked for it t to be done on her birthday in May and I wanted both of us a couple of months to think about it. I talked to her about how it would hurt, that they would have to be cleaned every day, that she couldn’t touch them and would need to look after them.

After deliberating we got them done at the beginning of the summer. What surprised me is at the time of the piercing her brother (aged 7, nearly 8) asked to get them done too.

In the sense of fairness, I told him he needed to wait and think about it for a couple of months, just like his sister. Again, we talked about the pain and that it would need looking after etc.

Here’s the thing I wasn’t keen, and when I sat down and chatted it over with my husband the reason I wasn’t keen, is because he’s a boy. And the more I thought about it, the more I realised that that was not ok. Here I am going to forums on gender equality and yet I wanted to say no to my son because of his gender.

The only way we can break away from gender norms and gender bias is to have the courage to do so and live it in our lives. So this past weekend, we to get his ear pierced.

He couldn’t decide whether to have one or two ears pierced. So we decided to go for one, and the piercer said he can come back and have the second one done at no extra cost if he changes his mind. Which it looks like he wants to do this coming weekend. I cannot tell you just how happy he was after he had it done. When the piercer showed him his earring in the mirror, he absolutely beamed. He was so very happy with his choice.

What makes me sad is that before we did so I had to chat to him about this being unusual and not necessarily something that boys always do. He didn’t seem to care, he just wanted earrings.

But that evening, it was only when he began to think about school that he began to question his choices. He was worried that some of his friends might not want to be his friend anymore because he had an earring. We talked about this, about what real friends were, that some people might have comments, but if he was happy then that was ok. Our choices, do not always have to be the same as someone else’s choices.

Monday morning came and I felt a little trepidation for him. Told him he looked great and off he went. As expected, he received mean comments, isn’t it always the way? One friend politely said he didn’t understand why he had it done. Another child (not a friend), in the class declared Logan should now be called ‘Lo-girl’.

After school I asked him how this made him feel and he said he had thought about taking it out. I reiterated our conversation about doing what makes him happy and not others and he said he really liked it and wanted to keep it.

The second day was much of the same, lots of ‘girl’ comments, a lot from older children in the playground (Year 6 when he is Year 3). I suggested he say to them ‘not your body, none of your business’. I was proud of him when he told me he did indeed say this to them. But also that most of the children who had been unkind didn’t know how to respond to that.

However, yesterday things escalated and a child said he would slap Logan until he took it out. Naturally, I will now be going in to talk to the school about this behaviour.

I can’t help but feel cross and frustrated, because I saw his face and just saw how happy he was in that chair after he had had his ear pierced. It’s not even that unusual in modern society, for goodness sake David Beckham’s got it done!

Since Logan has started school I have watched my son slowly shy away from anything that is out of the norm. He no longer wears pink, and yet he had pink jeans and a sequin jumper before school. His choice in clothes have become more sedate. I guess part of this could be growing up, it’s hard to tell. If you watch my insta-stories he cried when I could only get him a pink lunch box worried about what other children might say if he went to school with one.

This is toxic masculinity. The belief that children should wear and do certain things because of their gender. It needs to stop. Yes, I floundered for a moment when he asked to get his ears pierced. This is a society I have grown up and been raised in. But, I questioned and changed because I was wrong. When children as young as 7 or 8 have these conceptions of gender norms, how are we going to change things?

It makes me feel equally sad and angry that Logan is afraid to wear what he wants to wear because of what people might say or do. It’s only an earring and yet he’s encountered mean and unkind comments from other children everyday so far. I’m not a perfect Mum and I am trying my best, we still have ‘pink’ and ‘blue’ things in our house, it’s hard to break away from. But I want my children to be free to be who they are.

If you’re parent, please spare a moment to chat to them about differences, choices and how it’s not ok to be a mean to a child because they have done or are wearing something a bit out of the ordinary.

An Update Two Years On

This post has surprised me with how many people have read it, so I wanted to give a little update. It has been over two years (and a pandemic) since Logan had his ear pierced. He did go on to get both ears pierced, which he really wanted to do. I went into school to have a chat about some of the behaviour of other pupils. The school were very supportive and tackled the problems straight away. Since the worst incident things have settled down and nothing more has really been mentioned. I think he gets the occasional comment, but he now tells me when he comes home that those people are idiots. He wears all sorts of earrings – dinos, cats, planets or today’s favourite a pair of converse boots.

As Logan has got older and beginning to develop his own sense of style, he also decided to grow his hair – again totally his choice. He plays the guitar and wants to be like his rock heroes and awesome guitar teacher. It now sits halfway down his back and is beautiful I have to say. His style veers between band t-shirts and jeans, nerf trackies and his going out favourite – a shirt, waistcoat and jeans (like his Dad). It makes me smile watching him grow into his own person.

I don’t regret getting his ears pierced, it was the right thing to do to encourage him into becoming his person. His body, his choice. Yes, I had a wobble at first, but I am human and I challenged those thoughts. If we can give the children the gift of anything it’s the freedom to be who they want and who they are meant to be.

28 thoughts on “Should Boys Have Their Ears Pierced?”

  1. The thing is though that ‘gender norms’ are taught. Often by the adults around them. The fact that you floundered yourself says a lot about your own bias as you freely admit. If you flounder as a grown adult then how can you expect young children to be more emotionally intelligent than you? That’s not a dig I’m simply saying that unfortunately these things run deep and we can only hope that we can better teach future generations. I admire you for letting him have it done and am sure you can build his resilience against nasty comments.

    • Hi Clare, thanks for your comment. Yes, gender norms are taught by adults. I guess with so many male celebrities with their ears pierced I didn’t think it would be such a thing at school. You’re right I did flounder for a short time, although this wasn’t something I shared with my children and I would like to think if another boy had come to school with their ear pierced my children would not have reacted in this way. But you’re right we can only teach and show our children and hope that things improve for future generations. In fairness, I have since spoken to the school and they have been very supportive and since then Logan has had no further comments, so maybe the children did just need to be taught by a positive role model.

  2. What a shitty thing to happen, but you are awesome for allowing your kids to make their own choices. Plus what a tough kid you have there.
    I hate gender stereotypes, and am a big fan of the Let Toys Be Toys campaign (ditto clothes).

    • Thank you. I am proud of Logan for sticking to who he wants to be. I have asked if he would like to take it out and he is adamant that he doesn’t want to. I think it just shows how much work needs to be done on gender stereotypes and we all just have to do our best to change things.

  3. Well done for allowing him to have his ear pierced. It’s quite sad that those boys are so caught up in what their parents think that they can’t be themselves. Tell that to your little boy, that he is brave for doing what he likes. In 20 years he will, most likely, forget their names, but he will always have the memory of overcoming bullies.

    • Thank you Anca. I guess the boys are still young and shows how ingrained certain things are into our society which is such a shame and we do have a long way to go. I am definitely proud of Logan for standing up for who he is and it is a great lesson to learn to not let bullies make you be something you don’t want to be.

  4. I was saddened to read this blog post. It is truly awful to hear that your son has been picked on for simply having an earring, and my heart goes out to him. Bullying is always totally unacceptable and those who bully others should always be held to account for their actions.

    As a mum of 4 boys (aged 5 to 14) all of whom have pierced left ears, I must admit that I am really surprised that this has happened to your son, so much so that it has left me scratching my head and wondering why? My sons have had earrings since they were toddlers and they have never had any negative remarks from other children; in fact, most boys have been complimentary and even envious about it (some have even badgered their parents into letting them have one as a result!)

    Even more perplexing for me, is that growing up, both my brothers wore an earring from the time they started secondary school, and they never had an issue either, even though it was a lot more unusual back then. I would guess that at that time less than 1% of boys had an earring, whereas today it must be at least 20%. It’s so normal and commonplace that most people don’t think anything about it any more.

    Speaking from my own personal experience, I do have (hopefully!) some constructive points to raise with you that I hope might help your son. I hope you won’t take anything I say as criticism, because I’m completely supportive of you in this matter; it’s only intended as friendly advice!

    1) I notice that Logan has his right ear pierced. To be honest, that might be why this has happened. It’s an outdated oddity and a stereotype, but boys are “supposed” to get their left ears pierced. When my brothers were at school, there used to be the dreadful saying “right ear, right q***r”. I apologise for saying that, but for some bizarre reason, piercing a boy’s right ear does seem to cause some sexist and homophobic reactions to surface in some ignorant people. In my honest opinion, I think it would be a good idea to let Logan have both his ears pierced as that is very commonplace now. My boys only have one ear pierced, but I’d have no objection to them having both if they wanted. I would, however, be worried if they just wore one earring in their right ears for the above reason (but of course I would let them if that was what they really wanted).

    2) I suppose that to some (ignorant) people, a diamond stud might seem “girly”, although I am surprised about that considering it is so popular – it seems to be the earring of choice for boys and men nowadays. I remember from my childhood that my brothers’ choice of earrings was limited to a gold stud or a tiny gold hoop, as they were the only earrings considered to be ‘boyish’ or ‘manly’ at the time. Maybe it might be a good idea to try Logan out with a few different earrings, such as plain gold or silver, or maybe a black or blue stud?

    It is only my personal way of doing things, but I only allow my boys to wear a gold stud or tiny gold hoop to school; when they are at home, on weekends, and holidays, they can wear what they like. I just think it’s extra smart that way, but I am biased, because it’s simply what I’m used to from my own childhood!

    I wouldn’t let Logan take out his earring if I were you. I think that would set a bad precedent. The most important lesson I think we can teach our kids is for them to be themselves, because if they aren’t themselves, then they are no-one. I also think that a boy cares a hundred times more about his mum’s opinion than those of a bully at school too; so if mum thinks his earring is adorable and should stay put, then he will almost certainly think the same. Perhaps other family members could positively encourage him this Christmas by buying him some different ones?

    I’m sorry for the really long post. This is more than I intended to write! I congratulate you on being a good mum and for doing things right. I hope that I might have given you a few constructive points going forward, and I hope you will let us know how Logan gets along with his earring in future!

    Best wishes, Katie.

    • Hello Katie – I’m sorry I didn’t reply to this at the time. It’s been a couple of years since I wrote this post and the dust has very much settled. Logan has gone on to have both ears pierced and happily wears all sorts of earrings in them now – planets, dinosaurs, at the moment converse boots. As soon as school challenged the behaviour it was really only a couple of boys with consequences he hasn’t had anything since. I’m really glad as I want Logan to be who is he.

    • Katie: “As a mum of 4 boys (aged 5 to 14) all of whom have pierced left ears…It is only my personal way of doing things, but I only allow my boys to wear a gold stud or tiny gold hoop to school; when they are at home, on weekends, and holidays, they can wear what they like.” Yes, stud or tiny hoop in left ear has become a kind of male default setting, hasn’t it? Having their sons’ done can be seen by so many moms as a wholesome, wholeheartedly benign thing to let them do, isn’t it?

  5. I loved reading your story about Logan having both his ears pierced. Congratulations are due to Logan for wanting both done and for you for agreeing to it. In these days of gender equality, it seems much more common to see comparatively young boys wearing earrings and occasionally even baby boys. I have two daughters and my husband and I took both of them to have their ears pierced when they were three months old. They are now eleven and nine years old and have always worn earrings 24/7 since they were little babies. They have always loved the fact that they could wear earrings while a lot of their friends at school could not do so. Also, some of their friends were allowed to have their ears pierced by their parents but were too frightened to go ahead with it so I am pleased your daughter was keen to have it done when she was five years old. I hope that both Logan and your daughter are continuing to wear earrings on a regular basis. The holes will now have healed so Logan can choose when he wears earrings and when he does not. If I had had a son, I do not think I would have had his ears pierced as a baby but allowed him to do so when he wanted it done like Logan did. However, I have a friend who had a daughter first and took her to Claire’s to have her ears pierced at four and a half months and then a son and took him to Claire’s too at four and a half months for him to have just his left ear pierced. Her daughter is now four years old and her son eighteen months and both still wear their earrings all the time. The assistants at Claire’s who pierced her son’s ear told her that more and more baby boys are being brought into them for ear piercing at four and a half months including an increasing number of baby boys having both ears pierced. The increasingly popular fashion for ear piercing seems to be transcending the boy / girl divide with boys and girls being treated exactly the same.

    • Thank you for your reply. Logan has both ears pierced still several years on and wears all sorts of earrings in them now. He has also grown his hair super long – down his back – his choice. I love watching him becoming who he wants to be.

  6. Yes bya ll means boys should have pierced ears- if they want it. At any age. Boys should also have long hair if they want it as well. it’s a very attractive look for men or boys to have long hair and pierced ears. If my 8 year old asked for earrings I’d say, Sure, I’ll make an appointment.

    • Thanks Kevin. Thank you, two years on Logan does indeed now have long hair too – longer than his sister, halfway down his back and I’m happy to see him being who he wants to be.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this. My son, almost 7, wants his ears pierced. He already has been teased because he painted his nails orange for Halloween. None of his friends paint their nails or wear earrings, but he has his own ideas about self expression, and I love that about him. Your article has given me great ideas for discussions with him in the weeks to come. 😁

    • I hope it went well and you son now has both of his ears pierced. Things have now really settled down for my son and after the initial nonsense doesn’t really get many comments on it, so I would say encourage your son to be who he wants to be 🙂

  8. Blaming “toxic masculinity” is a cop out. I’ll bet the girls at his school were just as judgemental but didn’t threaten violence because they’re weaker. How about you blame toxic femininity for the stereotypes mothers put in their kids head like you nearly did with your son! Instead of blaming the culture, look at yourself first and make the change from within.

    • I don’t think blaming toxic masculinity in a cop out. We all have gender bias subconsciously inside ourselves, based on all sorts of things. Myself included, as I admitted in the article. Girls aren’t weaker – again gender bias there. Culture is there and has an impact on everything we do, we all have to look within ourselves – I openly admit that I do, to question why we think something and if those thoughts are right or based on bias. If we want the world to change for the next generation we have to teach them it’s ok to be who they want to be. My son is happy as himself as I am letting him who has wants to be and that was the right thing to do, even if I did have a bit of a wobble for a moment there.

  9. Well done for letting your son get his ears pierced! I am 15 and have had my ear pierced for 6 years. When I see other boys with earrings it makes me smile. From personal experiences high school is actually easier if you have an earring. All the girls will be after Logan one day!

    • I got my ear pierced as a teenage boy at school. You are right, the girls loved it. I now have both ears pierced and my girlfriend loves it. In fact she encouraged me to get it done and once it had healed brought me a pair of small gold diamond studs which l have worn ever since.

    • Re. Leon Holmes point, he accurately identifies it as a well established custom, similarly to some generations of mom Katie M’s family, expressed above: “a mum of 4 boys (aged 5 to 14) all of whom have pierced left ears … My sons have had earrings since they were toddlers … growing up, both my brothers wore an earring from the time they started secondary school”. Historically, indeed, it was common for sailors to wear an earring; the idea having originally been – maybe lost at times in the obscurity of centuries of custom – that if the sailor died doing hazardous work overseas, the metal in the earring would pay for what he understood to be a Christian burial. So if in some families it is indeed the custom for the boys and young men to have at least one ear embedded with a ring or stud, it has some well established historical precedent including among those who may be or have been identified with quite conservative beliefs. Families and parents will of course have greatly varying outlooks, but in the most conservative of families parents of a young man or boy should be able with confidence to countenance him having what Leon – and Katie’s sons – have.

  10. Hi Laura, I really love your writings and hopefully help to reduce much of the bigotry that exists in society. There is no valid reason why boys should be treated any differently than girls are. If it is how you would treat your girls, then the same principles should apply for boys. well done on having his ears pierced and standing by him and leading society to greater aceptance

  11. I needed this! My son asked me and his dad last year if he could have his ears pierced. I agreed but his dad immediately shut it down and said no. He talks about it constantly and points out guys who have their ears pierced. I even pointed out his father had his ears pierced. So I made the appointment on a whim for him to go this Saturday to get his ears pierced whether it’s one or both he wants. I told him last night and he was super excited and can’t wait, he asked me why I made the appointment I said I was never against it but it took me a moment to stand up to others strict views.

  12. You people talk about not allowing others influence against the decision of our kids when in reality this whole deal about boys getting their ears pieces comes exactly from a bunch of external influence and nothing from the kids own decisions. Kids will want to be and reflect everything they see around him and if a 12 year old boy grows up seeing other 12 year old boys walking around in pink skirts and a bow on their heads, your 12 year old son will ask you to let him do the same. “Oh yeah, I’ll let him do it, it’s his decision and something he wants to do!” WRONG! It’s nothing but external influence from a sick society that keeps getting more and more sick and filthy. So yeah, just like a bunch of you have said it yourself.. “mom. my friends havve it… why cant i ” or “david has it” or w/e.. yes you kids wanAts it because others have it.. so the pressure is already there. boys will be boys and girls will be girls.

  13. Laura said: “It has been over two years (and a pandemic) since Logan had his ear pierced. He did go on to get both ears pierced, which he really wanted to do.”

    The fact is that it’s such a well established custom for boys that it’s hardly a sign of radical, avant-garde, anti-conservative values, or whatever, supposedly.

    Leaving aside ppl’s likes and dislikes and the very varying family customs, I do remember that 40 years ago in rather conservative churches some of the young men would have been wearing earrings – insofar as the memory is even distinct.

    20 years ago, all the boys playing ball in my street would probably have routinely worn earrings, again, insofar as the memory is even distinct.

    It really is a very well established – and confident – custom for boys.

  14. Thank you so much for this post! My 10 year old son just inquired this morning about getting one or both (still deciding) ears pierced. I have been googling advice and perspective since I dropped him off at school this morning trying to prepare for the in depth conversation that we need to have. I think there are things to consider and I want him to be aware of the possible outcomes of his decision. But again, I totally agree that if it makes him happy and that is expressing who he is then I couldn’t be more proud. If he finds out that it isn’t for him then it is never too late. He can always remove it and let it close back up. Problem solved. BUT I really think he will look amazing, it fits his cool personality and shows what a creative and bold human he really is. He is very accepting of others and their choices and I want to make sure to continue raising a respectful, considerate , bold , and loving human! Thank you for providing some additional things that I may not have thought otherwise to consider. You son by the way is absolutely a gorgeous child and I can definitely see how creative , bold, and unique his personality is from how he expresses himself. What a cool kiddo!! My son is a blonde and has long hair in the front but short in the back. He likes to sport the man bun and pulls it off like a champ! He is precious! Keep up the good parenting and keep sharing!

  15. Thank you for this post! My husband and I had our children’s ears pierced when they were seven, initially our daughter, but we questioned why we had elected to pierce one child and not the other, was it purely on gender grounds? After some discussion I persuaded my husband to get our sons ears pierced too. Tbh I love seeing children wearing earrings, they look super cute? So far, so good and no adverse comments that we’ve read about above!


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