A recent ear-piercing incident at a Canadian Claire's store really got me thinking about consent when it comes to kids and beauty modifications.
Earlier this month, Raylene Marks quit her job at a Claire’s store in Edmonton, Alberta, over her concerns about whether or not employees can refuse to pierce children's ear's without their consent.
On March 31, a mother brought her 7-year-old daughter to the store to have her ears pierced, but the child screamed and repeatedly asked to not have her ears touched. Despite that, her mother still encouraged Marks and another employee to go through with the piercings. Marks refused and, eventually, the mother and daughter left without having her ears pierced.
She spoke with her manager the next day about what to do in a situation where a parent has to physically restrain their child to get their ears pierced. She was upset to learn they were required to go through with it if it was the parent's wish. So she quit. However, a spokesperson for Claire’s emphasized this was not their policy and the Canadian store was investigated for their policies.
I know it’s not unusual to see little babies with studs in their ears before they can even say mama. But I fully believe the only person who should be able to choose whether or not they get their ears pierced is the person who will have the holes in their ears.
I don’t see the issue with parents having rules for their children's bodies.
I wasn't allowed to get my ears pierced until I was 11. (I added double piercings at 12 and a cartilage piercing at 18.) Makeup wasn’t allowed on my face until I was a teenager. They said if I wanted a tattoo — though I never did — I had to wait until 18. I was fine with the rules.
My issue comes with parents forcing personal body choices upon their children.
Consent may seem like a buzzword, but it’s powerful and necessary to teach our children — both boys and girls — that their bodies are their own. They should not allow anyone to have power over their own body and, although it seems minor, this should include any body modifications such as having their ears pierced. Babies cannot decide whether or not they want their ears pierced, and the initial piercing can be shocking and scary for a little one.
I believe that if a parent wants to have their child's ears pierced, they should wait until they are ready and ask to have it done.
My 7-year-old daughter has mentioned several times that she may want to get her ears pierced. She picked 8 as a good age to have it done. Well, she’ll be 8 soon and recently told me isn't quite ready yet. It’s fine for me if she decides to get them done at 8 or wait until she’s 48. Heck, she could even leave her ears hole-free forever. It's up to her — even though I'd have a fun time buying and wearing earrings with her.
In the mean time, I'll continue to wait and let her decide when the time is right. Whenever that is, we’ll pick out some cute studs and go to a reputable and safe piercing parlor to have it done.
Then we'll do more shopping for other cute earrings we can, ahem, share.
Jen Schneider is a local middle school teacher and mom to two children.