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This past weekend I had an appointment to get my belly button pierced, but after learning that navel piercings require specific anatomy that I didn’t have, I decided to use my time slot to instead get my helix pierced. I had been thinking about getting it done since I was twelve, but the daunting healing process and the disapproval of my parents always scared me away. 

It was a spontaneous decision, which I think helped with the nerves. My piercer carefully cleaned the area, marked the spot, and after a quick countdown, pushed the needle through my cartilage. It was so quick and surprisingly painless that afterward, I felt a flush of elation. I couldn’t stop staring at my ear in the mirror. 

By pure coincidence, three people in my residence building also got piercings this past week. I decided to interview them about why they got piercings and how they felt after. Here are their thoughts: 

What did you get pierced and where did you get it done?

Aitana: I got my nose pierced at Zebra Tattoo and Piercing on Telegraph Avenue. 

Angèle:  I got my bellybutton pierced at Zebra’s. 

Aiko: I got my second piercings on my ear lobes, also done at Zebra’s. I went with Aitana. 

Would you recommend the place you went to?

Aitana: Yes. It felt clean and the piercer seemed knowledgeable. I would definitely recommend Zebra’s. 

Angèle: I would recommend Zebra’s. The area was clean, and it felt very professional. 

Aiko: Yes, it felt professional, and they were nice. The piercer talked through what he was doing the entire time and did it as fast as he could. He was very efficient. 

Have you had any piercings before, and if so what?

Aitana: Yes. I have six total piercings, three on each lobe. 

Angèle: Yes. I have two piercings on each lobe and one cartilage. The first piercings on my lobes were done as a baby, the second piercings on my lobe were done four years ago, and the cartilage piercing was done a month ago. 

Aiko: I just had two piercings, one on each lobe. They were done when I was very young. 

What made you finally decide to get pierced? 

Aitana: I wanted a change. I was lacking pain. I go through phases where I absolutely need to change something about myself and a nose piercing was just what I needed. 

Angèle: I always wanted a belly button piercing. I wear low-rise jeans often, so it would be shown off a lot. I think it looks so hot, and everyone has always told me that I should get one. It just felt right. 

Aiko: It was a rash decision. I was accompanying Aitana to get her nose piercing, which inspired me. I always thought that I would only have one lobe piercing and that would be it for me, but I decided to try something new in the spur of the moment. Being a spontaneous decision really helped with the nerves. 

How was the pain? 

Aitana: I didn’t feel anything, and it definitely was not as painful as I thought. If I were to rank the pain on a scale, I would give it a 6/10, but it was over so fast I barely even had time to process it. However, my nose was kind of sore afterward. Now, I’m more concerned about the things I didn’t think of. How am I going to blow my nose? How am I going to do my COVID-19 test tomorrow? 

Angèle: The feeling of the needle going in was an 8/10 on the pain scale; it really hurt. Also, when my piercer put the jewelry in, I would give the pain a 7/10. It hurt because I felt the pain twice, with the piercing first, and the jewelry is put in second. However, it was not unbearable as it was over fast. It was a very quick, sharp pain. 

Aiko: It hurt when he stuck the needle in. I have low pain tolerance, so I would give the pain a 7/10. But, it was over quickly so the pain didn’t last very long. 

How did you feel immediately afterward? 

Aitana: I felt like a new person. I was showing it off to everyone and pointing it out. It was funny because nobody really noticed it. Everyone had assumed that I already had it done. I guess my anatomy was made for a nose piercing. 

Angèle: I was really happy, and I liked how I looked a lot. I felt no regrets at all. I felt like showing it off everywhere, and I couldn’t stop looking at the mirror. 

Aiko: I felt pretty cool. I was proud of myself for going through with it. It was a nice change, and I felt happy with my spontaneous decision. I didn’t look in the mirror until I walked back to my dorm because I was building up the anticipation to finally look at the piercings. 

How is the healing process going? 

Aitana: It’s been weird. I had to waterboard myself, and it felt like I was drowning in a Dixie cup. Also, there’s so much I have to do to clean my piercing so that it doesn’t get infected. First, I have to wash my nose with an antibacterial solution. In the morning, I have to apply this emu oil, and at night, I have to soak my nose in salt for ten minutes. 

Angèle: I got my belly button piercing a week ago, and the first two days, it was really sore and it hurt a lot. It hurts to sit, and it’s really hard not having clothes touch it. Cleaning it takes a while, and it’s been taking more effort than my other piercings did. I have to soak it in salt water for ten minutes, then use a cleaning solution, and then finally apply oil on it. I can’t sleep on my stomach, which sucks because I’m a stomach sleeper. I can’t wear clothes that touch it because anything that touches it makes it hurt. 

Aiko: The healing process is going pretty well. I don’t feel any throbbing sensation in my lobes. However, touching the area does hurt. 

How are your parents going to react?

Aitana: I haven’t told them yet. My dad is definitely going to freak out more than my mom. I wouldn’t call my parents strict, but I would say that they’re more traditional. In my family, there’s this stereotype surrounding facial piercings, and that if you have a facial piercing you’re some kind of “rebel.” That’s why my mom would never let me get my nose pierced in the past. But I want to break this stereotype. I’m a Molecular Cell Biology major minoring in math, and I wanted a nose piercing because I thought it looked pretty. 

Angèle: I sent my mom a picture of it, and she was super unhappy at first. But now she’s coming around and thinks it’s cute. I haven’t told my Dad yet, and I know he’s going to take it worse than my mom. I’m just going to wait for him to see it in person and see what he thinks. 

Aiko: I think they’re going to be okay with it. It’s not that big of a deal since it’s just a second piercing. My mom just cares that it won’t get infected and that it was done safely. 

Do you feel empowered?

Aitana: I feel so empowered. My nose has always been an insecurity of mine, so it feels a little weird showing off my nose to everyone, but I like it. 

Angèle: Yes, I feel empowered. I think it adds so much to my style. I like how it matches with certain outfits, and since the jewelry is pink, it goes really well with all my pink clothes!

Aiko: Sure. Yeah, I do. I just feel like me, but cooler. I like pointing it out to people, and it feels nice. 

Any advice to someone also considering a piercing? 

Aitana: Just go for it. Piercings can always close (unless it’s a belly button) but like, YOLO man. It’s worth it. Pain is temporary, so don’t be afraid. 

Angèle: Go for it! 

Aiko: Do it. But like, consider your pain tolerance. With piercings, they can always close up if you don’t end up liking them, so I say go for it!

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Viveca Ganti

UC Berkeley '25

Viveca is a freshman at UC Berkeley studying Anthropology. In her free time, she loves producing funky music on GarageBand, writing silly short stories, and exploring restaurants at Berkeley!
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