Fellow nipple wearers (AKA every human being), please observe:
Can't see anything particularly interesting? Look a little lower...not quite at the stomach but not at the neck, either.
Catch my drift?
We've all seen the following campaign:
Although I am a huge fan of this equality movement, I have some stuff to say about nipples. Not necessarily freeing them, but something else: piercing them.
I am in no way against getting your nipples pierced because back in January, I got mine done. My best friend and I drove down to Chitown Tattoo, my go-to tattoo and piercing parlor, to do something we thought was a right of passage, and of course, something totally badass. No one I know had theirs pierced. I had seen tons of nipples on Tumblr (because let's be real, who hasn't?!) that had beautiful bar bells pierced through them, and I instantly wanted them. They were taboo, and to be frank, I wanted to rock them through see-through shirts.
It was cool, rebellious, and it wasn't super subtle; it represented me.
After lying down in the chair at the tattoo parlor, my heart instantly revved up to a million beats a minute. I grabbed my best friend's hand and squeezed it until I thought my hand would fall off-- and I still had my shirt on!
By the time everything was over, I was (barely) alive, but I felt like I was going to pass out. After examining the new barbells literally inside my nipples, I went and sat on a chair while a black shadow and little stars clouded my head. I felt my stomach drop and my hands get sweaty. This wasn't fun.
I dashed to the bathroom, almost sure I was going to upchuck my Noodles and Company, but I just sat there in a daze of nausea. Finally, I came out, feeling relatively normal—still sore, but functional.
"Now, remember," the gorgeous piercing artist who had just gone to WWIII with my nipples said, "you're going to want to wash them with sea salt and warm water, or Dial soap."
I nodded, still in a daze, and followed her directions.
For the next couple weeks, I was happy with the way my nipples looked. I felt comfortable to show off my breasts without wearing a bra (even though I was getting slut shamed for it, but it didn't phase me). But as months passed (while I still washed it with Dial soap every day, and did the salt soak pretty often), my nipples started to look scarred and downright gross.
I'll keep cleaning them and it'll go away! Don't worry, I'll be fine.
Although I tried for months keeping that mindset, I finally had to take them out. They were becoming not only high maintenance, but deeply painful. When I would wear bras, the barbells would get caught on my undergarments and tear at my nipple causing it to sometimes bleed. I didn't have time for this; all I wanted was pretty nipples, was that too much to ask?
During the time I had my nipples pierced, there was some scarring because of the bleeding and infection, but I thought that after I took them out, washed them for a few days, it would all be good!
My nipples were discolored, scarred and even shaped differently.
I was upset with myself that I got these piercings that would cause me so much stress to a vital body part (can you say breastmilk?) just so my nipples would look "badass" through a shirt. I did some research and came across a blog written by a female doctor in Arizona who's been practicing medicine for over 30 years. In this article Dr. Christina talks about some of the risks I should have looked up before I was impulsive. Here are just two of the general health risks that Dr. Christina addresses:
a) Infection – This can occur due to poor hygiene during or after piercing procedure care. It could also be caused by the improper sterilization of the piercing equipment. Remember the infection can spread via the nipple ducts and get into the lymph nodes, which can not only cause an abscess (which is a collection of pus), but also allow the infection to get into your blood stream, which can make you extremely sick. Believe it or not, a person can develop an abscess up to 7 years after the piercing. An abscess can recur frequently and may require antibiotics and/or surgery. Some people choose to get a tetanus shot prior to getting a piercing as a precaution against any infection that may occur.
b) Nerve damage – Piercing can damage milk production ducts in the breast. It may also cause a problem later if the patient decides to breastfeed. The patient may also risk the loss of feeling in that area.
Disappointment filled my head as I scanned all my adorable tops that would be perfect to wear without a bra (and of course, my adorable nipple piercings). I had gone through all this pain, infection, and severe yuckiness all for the name of fashion (and not for sex as some people had thought; I could've really cared less about that).
I sat there standing outside my closet, and decided "F*ck it!" I was going to free the nipple without a nipple piercing, and I didn't care! I embraced my free, virgin breasts without any defiant body piercing, and it was still gonna be killer.
Don't get me wrong; if my nipples weren't so sensitive, I totally would still have mine in right now. Some of my friends have told me that I inspired them to get theirs pierced, and I love that! Like I said, it's a right of passage and screams, "YEAH GIRL! TAKE CONTROL OF THAT BODY! YOU SEXY AND YOU'RE GOING TO OWN THOSE NIPPLES BECAUSE YOU CAN!" Nipple piercing or no nipple piercing, you still can rock the #FreeTheNipple movement. Just remember to take care of yourself first and do your research before doing something impulsive. As young adults, it's hard to do, but hey, not everything we do can not have consequences, right?