The situations in which I have felt judged, shamed or ridiculed as a mother have, in all honesty, been surprising. Sure, I've received some backlash for breastfeeding in public and, yes, some people couldn't seem to understand why I would co-sleep with my son. However, I've noticed that my appearance, more than anything else, has been the source of other people's judgement. So, I would be lying if I said I haven't grown ridiculously tired of the things people say to moms with facial piercings, because I have. Between my nose ring, my lip ring, two dermal piercings and my tattoos, I've had enough.
In a way, I'm not surprised. I was judged for my appearance before I became a mother (like most, er, all women are) and the unsolicited commentary about my image or perceived attractiveness is, sadly, something to be expected. Catcalling and stress harassment are so prevalent, women can't walk to work without having someone call out at them. However, I have noticed how the commentary regarding my appearance, while ongoing, has changed. Before I became a mother, my tattoos and piercings were sexualized. Now they're used as a reminder that I'm a mother now. They're "no longer appropriate" or "sending the wrong message" or potentially "embarrassing for my son" and, in the end, are things I need to remove from my person in order to fit into a specific image society has arbitrarily deemed "mom-like."
Anyone who has tattoos or facial piercings (or any other kind of piercing, for that matter) knows that the aforementioned is an outward expression of who you are as an individual. While so much of my life changed after having a baby, I didn't. I'm still the same me, with a few altercations, and I'm not going to alter my entire existence or scrub my personality in the name of motherhood. So, with that in mind, here are just a few things I've heard over the years about my facial piercings that I'd really, really, love to never hear again.
"You'd Look Better If You Didn't Have That Stuff On Your Face"
To be fair, I heard this way before I ever became a mom (and can safely assume that so many women with tattoos or facial piercings have, too). The unsolicited commentary that is judging a woman's appearance is never ending, and happens on a regular basis regardless of her life choices.
So no, stranger: I don't care if the nose ring or the eyebrow piercing or the lip ring I have, isn't "attractive" to you, because I didn't get any of them for you. The people (read: men) who tell me they think I would look "hotter" or "cuter" if I did this or wore that or took that one piercing out, need a lesson on why women wear what they wear or do whatever it is they want to do to their body or hair or all of the above. (Hint: it's not for you, gentlemen. Not for you.)
"Do You Think That's Even Appropriate?"
I sure do.
I'm not sure what anyone really means by "appropriate," as that's clearly a relative term, especially when it comes to someone's appearance. Sadly, though, I hear that terms thrown around regularly when people talk about my tattoos or my piercings, especially now that I'm a mom. While times are changing, there's still this prevailing notion that a tattoo or a facial piercing is "bad" or "wrong" or anything other than an expression of one's personality.
So, yes: I think it's super appropriate to be myself, especially around my child. I'm very excited for him to continue to learn about me.
"How Are You Going To Explain Those To Your Kid?"
It'll be super easy, actually. I'll simply tell my son that, like my tattoos, my piercings are an expression of who I am as an individual. This will also give me the perfect opportunity to talk (again) about consent and body autonomy. Win-win, you guys.
"That's Definitely Going To Leave A Scar"
This one is my favorite, if I'm being honest. First, no one really cares if I have a scar on my face. Sure, some strangers feign concern, but it's not their face and most of them will never see me again so, in the end, they really don't care at all and asking this question is just another way to subtly say, "I don't like the stuff on your face."
Secondly, I do have a huge scar, only it's not on my face. Nope. It's on my right knee, and it's almost seven inches long and pretty gruesome. I didn't "choose" that scar (or the many others I have) but I have it now and I don't mind it and it doesn't keep me from wearing shorts or skirts or bathing suits. Same goes for the (super minimal, barely noticeable) scars my facial piercings may or may not leave behind. They're signs I've lived so, yeah, I'm OK with them.
"You're Too Old For That"
I know that our society has continually put facial piercings in that "I'm-a-teenager-rebelling-against-my-parents" category of life choices we (usually) all go through, but that's just not the case anymore.
Plus, don't assume my age and definitely don't assume that my age should (for whatever reason) keep me from expressing myself. I'll never be too old to be me.
"Doesn't Your Kid Pull On Those?"
Honestly, this is a little fair. Yes, my kid did (on occasion) reach for my nose ring. However, he also tugs on my hair on a regular basis and, now that my nose ring is out, he still reaches for my nose, so I'm thinking it had less to do with the shiny metal on my nose and more to do with the fact that, you know, I had my nose at all. I'm not going to be shaving my head anytime soon (while that would be rad, my head is shaped so very oddly and I can't pull off that look) and I'm definitely not cutting my nose off my face, so I was never going to take out my piercings just because some wild newborn or toddler hands were going to be reaching for them. It's part of the parenting gig and, for the most part, it was a non-issue.
"Didn't The Doctors Make You Take Those Out When You Were In Labor?"
This is a pretty fair question that's annoying only because of its frequency. I know that different hospitals have different policies, so I don't blame anyone for assuming that my doctors and/or nurses would make me take my piercings out.
But my hospital, didn't.
I had a birthing tub in my room and a birthing ball in my room and I was able to roam the halls and I didn't have a "timeline" the doctors attempted to keep me on and I was never coerced into certain interventions to "hurry" my labor along. I had a great birthing experience and that included no one telling me I had to take my piercings out. If something were to happen (like an emergency c-section) the doctors told me they would either take them out beforehand or just proceed anyway. No big deal to them, so it was no big deal to me.
"You Don't Really Look Like A Mom"
I have no idea what a mom is supposed to "look like," but I'm fairly certain there's no one way to go about it.