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Nipple Piercing’s in the Erotic Victorian Era

 

Recently I have done my single act of rebellion,, which may be a little sad due to being 21, but ehh, things scare me. But after a nasty and unexpected breakup, I made a rash choice to do something I would have never done before. I got my nipple pierced. Now it was not random; I had thought of the idea previously. I had looked at jewelry and done some research, but I always dismissed it. But the opportunity arose, and so I did it on a random September Saturday. I will admit it hurt very badly, but I was not nervous until the initial regret, which I subdued by buying bee nipple rings (boo-bees), but shopping always calms me. As soon as I got over that, my nerd self started doing historical research, and I found some interesting things, especially from the Victorian Era.

 

The Victorian Era has an overall creepy and deadly vibe, anything from wallpaper to the flu could kill you. The aesthetic is overwhelmingly dark and prudent, as laws went in place against homosexual relations and such, but other than that, there was a reemergence of an erotic culture. This of course, was primarily seated in Paris, a city of sin and vice. I’m in no way saying that such desires and things didn’t take place before the Victorian Era; there are many instances of this throughout history, I just have a particular disposition toward this era. 

 

With the sensually erotic underground vibe within the stick Victorian Era, a new trend came into play, nipple piercings, and it wasn’t limited to women. It seemed to be the talk of the town. It began in Paris, of course, as all notoriously erotic things do. The style was gold rings with a chain connecting them, and my goodness was absolute decadence. Although this fad was considered heresy, it is simply not the case. A scene in the Victorian literary classic Sherlock Holmes rings the question as Watson himself notices a woman’s nipple piercings. 

 

All of this is completely ironic when one thinks of Victorian England, it was a time when fashion seemed to move back and cover up a woman more than the past. It seemed to be a movement toward a prudent and reserved class, but it was not. There were many clubs of vice gambling, burlesque, and erotica literature. It was all hidden under a cloud of smog. This was not a solely a female trend, many young men went out and got their nipples pierced as well. In my research I found a woman who compiled letters of people who got this done, and she followed one woman’s story from the discovery that her fiance/cousin got his done to her getting hers done and here is her story. 

 

I must confess I felt very qualmish, and almost repented having consented to it.”

 

“I partially undressed and seated myself on a couch by the side of Mdme. B., who passed her arm round my neck and held me steadily. Mdme. B. then bathed my right breast for a few minutes with something which smelt like benzoline*, and seemed almost to freeze it. She then adjusted the instrument to the nipple, and screwed it up securely, and then, almost before I was aware of her intention, she plunged the piercer through the tubes. I scarcely felt its passage through my nipple, which seemed almost insensitive. She then unscrewed and removed the tongs, leaving the piercer still sticking through the nipple, the point of a ring being then put into a hollow in the base of the piercer, the ring was passed through the nipple and closed. The whole operation, excepting the bathing, did not, I believe, occupy a minute. I felt scarcely any pain; and only a drop or two of blood flowed, which was at once absorbed by a little styptic wool.”

 

Beaumont told them this as they left: “… we were the first English ladies who had visited her for the purpose of having their nipples pierced, but that she had had several American ladies visit her, and many from France and other parts of the Continent.”

 

This whole story may seem bazaar, but in my opinion I don’t think anyone without a few screws loose could get their nipples pierced, and that is coming from me a girl who on a whim decided to do the same thing, albeit probably in a significantly safer way than the Victorians.

Mary Kirby

Elizabethtown '21

Hi! I’m Mary!
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