Personally, I’ve always loved piercings. As a 7th grader, I got my doubles pierced. At the time, I remember how scandalous and grown up that decision was. As an 8th grader, I wore an earring cuff around my cartilage because my parents didn’t want me to pierce it…yet.
During the period where I wore that one of my best friend’s moms made a comment to her about how things like that were for whores. This was the first time I remember an adult making a judgment call about my personality and character solely base on the placement of my jewelry. Why is this such a common occurrence especially now?
As a high school freshmen, I became increasingly infatuated with the idea of piercing my nose. I spent hours on Pinterest repinning and trying to find the perfect size and placement. Finally, right before my sophomore year, I was able to persuade my parents and my mom went with me to sign the parents’ consent form.
My argument was simple: “It won’t change my heart so why not, and I can always take it out." Walking out of the tattoo shop I was so excited about my new stud and couldn’t wait to show it off. It gave me such a newfound sense of individuality and confidence that it never crossed my mind that adults that knew me would begin to view me in a negative light.
I remember walking into church the following Sunday: nothing about me was altered other than the small stud in my nose. I was a fourth-grade girls small group leader. I had been leading this group of girls for a little under a year at this point. I interacted with their parents each and every Sunday at the end of service. Every week I was greeted warmly and thanked for leading their daughters but this week something was different.
A few parents didn’t speak to me and a few asked if I was doing okay. I felt that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, that “we need to talk feeling." I felt ashamed and a little embarrassed but then it dawned on me: I hadn’t done anything wrong. My character and my ability to lead these young ladies wasn’t altered because I chose to get a face piercing. I was still fully capable of preforming the task at hand just as before despite what I felt to be a minimal physical change.
Due to this experience, I made the decision not to be phased by others incorrect assumptions about my internal self-based upon an outward change. I was going to embrace my nose piercing unapologetically because it was silly to let someone else shallowness cause insecurity within me.
I feel like this next little story should be prefaced with the fact that my nose piercing did not break school dress code whatsoever. Although I had experienced coldness and discomfort at church I was under the impression I had no reason to face this at school. I was unfortunately wrong. As the school year began club meetings started back up and before I knew it my sophomore year was in full swing.
During on clubs first meeting of the year, I noticed the teacher stealing side glances at me. Instead of letting my stomach sink I reminded myself that I had done nothing wrong. Right before our meeting drew to a close the teacher interrupted the club president and said, “Abigail can I see you in the hallway for a moment please."
All I could think as everyone watched me walk out with himwas: you’ve done nothing wrong. He slammed the classroom door behind us and very loudly asked me what on earth was wrong with me. I asked what he meant by that and I was met with “You came back to school with a piece of metal in your face” “why would you ruin your body that way” “did something bad happen over the summer."
The funny thing is I don’t even remember being embarrassed. Most people would be mortified to have to answer to that but for some reason, in the moment, I wasn’t: I had done nothing wrong. The bell rang and the hall filled with students while his words hung in the air and I looked at him and calmly explained that it was a just a piercing, it didn’t change my heart.
Over the past three years, I’ve had lots of adults that know me well and that don’t know me at all react to me differently. Unbeknownst to her, my aunt was one of my biggest cheerleaders. I remember picking her up from the airport with my mom and being kind of nervous that she would notice it and disapprove. But my momentary insecurity was for nothing because when she saw it she told me how cool it was and gave me the biggest hug.
On the other hand, as a junior, I worked in the attendance office and I interacted with tons of adults I didn’t know every day. Once I had to walk a mom from the office to another part of the school for a meeting. The way that I was facing in the office blocked her view of my nose piercing and she was lovely towards me.
She asked me what year I was and if I had started looking at colleges yet. We happily went back and forth while the secretary looked up where the meeting was. As soon as we began to walk down the hallway the woman suddenly fell silent. My nose ring was in full view. She walked the rest of the way in silence and walked into her meeting without so much as a thank you.
When I started writing this I wasn’t totally sure where it was going but I feel like in sharing my, for the most part, disappointing experience with how adults reacted towards my piercings it has the ability to raises self-awareness in a way.
I simply want this to be a reminder to everyone regardless of your age: when you look at someone and pass judgment based upon their appearance you’re not only short-changing them but you’re short changing yourself. In your shallowness, you are belittling another human for expressing them self and embracing confidence and individuality while at the same time you are belittling yourself by taking away the opportunity to truly get to know someone’s heart and soul.
Haven’t we always been to told not to judge a book by its cover? Why as a society do we continue to ignore these simple words of advice. Let’s stop judging books by their covers whether their covers be blank or dotted with ink or jeweled with sterling silver. Let’s get a feel for the story inside the covers and maybe just maybe we’ll all realize that the covers are a beautiful depiction of the pages within.