Celebrating a decade of body piercing in popular culture, as told in six semi-fictional vignettes.
It’s ok. We’ll use an anaesthetic.
28 May 1994
When the guy writing the article for the university student magazine asked Ian what his biggest fear was, Ian said it was, “that the American corporate death burger culture that is slowly spreading like a cancer all around the world will eventually eat away the core of our culture and existence.” But now that he’s had a good think about it, Ian has realised that his biggest fear is that he’ll end up being just like his father. He thought that being the president of the campus vegan society was a step in the opposite direction of his father’s world of corporate oppression, but yesterday he found himself telling Charlotte that he didn’t think it was appropriate for her to have named her pet rat Sammy, because being a black rat, it could be considered that Sammy was short for Sambo, and therefore would be racist. But later Ian wondered if maybe it was true that Charlotte just liked Sammy because it was a cute name. Ian knew that he had to take a step away from being an aggressive oppressor. So this afternoon he visited Mel and got her to pierce his eyebrow. Yeah, it’s time to say a great big “fuck you” to corporate oppression.
3 October 1996
Things are going to change. It’s time to re-write the rules. It’s time to introduce a new post-feminist definition of beauty and sexy. Jessica realised that wearing baggy jeans, flannel shirts and Doc Martens boots hadn’t exactly made her very appealing. So now it was time to reinvent herself. Pink made her puke, so she brought in some black. She had a black fishnet top that would, she hoped, show off her strong female power (i.e. midriff), but at the same time not make her look like a slut. In an attempt to further distance herself from the traditional phallo-centric definitions of female beauty, she had had her belly button pierced. A surgical stainless steel bar ran through the skin above her navel, demonstrating, she hoped, that while she was showing off lots of skin, she was not a weak, passive, stereotypical girly girl.
12 August 1999
No one will ever know. No one will ever know. It’ll be so cool. Roy had it all worked out – and, he wondered, why hadn’t he had this done earlier? On Monday at work it would be so good. He would be sitting there in a meeting and no one would ever know that under his three-piece suit were two pierced nipples. He would be in meetings discussing client cases with the senior partners and no one would ever know, know one would ever suspect that his nipples were pierced. No one would ever suspect that he was gay. Eventually, of course, he would show them off. Maybe he could go to that beach in Bali he’d heard about, or the next time he was in Sydney he could walk around with a tight t-shirt on. But until then it would just be his little secret. No one would ever, ever know.
14 February 2000
The last six months had been really hard, but Michelle was determined that things would be different in the new millennium. Her mum had broken up with her partner, Michelle had been made redundant from her job and had a new one she didn’t enjoy as much, her car had broken down and would cost too much to repair, and her dog Sheeba had to be put down. But things weren’t all that bad. Her partner Gavin had been very supportive throughout it all. As a special Valentine’s Day gift, Gavin and Michelle had given each other the gift of mutual eyebrow piercings. “Whenever I look at you I see your eyebrow piercing and it reminds me of how much I love you,” Michelle said to Gavin. “Same here,” he replied. Michelle wasn’t too sure if she would be allowed to have the piercing when netball season started, but it would probably be healed by then so she could probably take it out. Probably.
2 March 2002
It was something Karen had always wanted to have done. She heard it increased sensitivity. Not that she had insensitive nipples, or anything, but, you know, if it increased sensitivity then that would be quite good. Karen and her best mate Louise had been in town one day when Louise spied a piercing parlour. “Do you wanna get your tit pierced? Go on, Kaz. I’ll shout ya. Girls’ day out.” Louise went first and even though she swore when it went in, she said it didn’t really hurt. When Karen had hers done she felt a sharp jolt of pain shoot through her arm. The piercer told her that was normal and it would soon stop hurting. A week later Karen noticed pus coming out of the piercing. It was red and tender. It hurt to wear a bra. The piercer said it was normal and it would soon stop hurting. Lousie said hers wasn’t sore at all. Karen noticed that her left boob had now swelled bigger than her right one. The doctor said that the piercing had hit a nerve and had caused an infection. After the course of antibiotics, the swelling and the pain had gone and the skin had healed. But Karen noticed that she no longer felt any sensitivity in her left nipple.
9 June 2004
When Trudie gets to her goal weight she’s going to get her belly button pierced. Three years ago, after her youngest was born, she realised that she was now almost 30 kilograms heavier than she had been on her wedding day. Since then she’s been working hard to get her old body back. She’s about 8 kilograms away from her goal weight and she has been for about the last year. Trudie noticed that the skin on her tummy is a big saggy now. When she’s lying down and pushes it, it doesn’t spring back. But there is that operation that fixes that, isn’t there. She saw it on TV and it seemed easy enough. As an incentive she has already bought a belly button bar. A jeweller at the mall was having a sale and she found this one made from gold and with a real diamond in it for only $99, which is a really good bargain. It’ll be a long, hard journey, but once she’s got there her husband Pete has promised that they’ll go somewhere on holiday where she can wear a bikini and show off her body and new bellybutton piercing.