Culture Clash Baby Ear Piercing & Latinos-MainPhoto

Culture Clash Baby Ear Piercing & Latinos-MainPhotoUPDATED June 17th, 2017

Every so often the “to pierce or not to pierce a baby’s ears” debate flares up in the U.S. This is probably because there are more and more little Latina girls running around with earrings adorning their cute little earlobes. A lot of Anglo moms consider the practice barbaric and even borderline child abuse. Latina moms accuse Anglos of cultural insensitivity in the same breath that Anglo moms compare earlobe piercing to genital mutilation. There’s no winning this argument.

Giselle Bundchen Pierced her Baby's Ears. Yay or Nay?-MainPhotoThe latest buzz made me remember my struggle when my girls were born. Being bicultural, not only did I have to think of names that would sound similar in both English and Spanish, but I also wondered whether I would pierce their ears. And, if so, when? And, how?

18 replies
  1. Paloma Corredor
    Paloma Corredor says:

    Well, being a Spanish lady myself of course I had my ears pierced at hospital, too. My mum swears I didn´t cry at all. I had a piercing on my nose in my twenties too and it didn´t hurt. The thing is I don´t like wearing earrings, or rings, or watches. They make me feel uncomfortable. From time to time I can wear earrings, then I forget for years. But I can tell you that having my ears pierced is definitely the least of my traumas. Comparing it to genital mutilation is absurd, in my opinion.

  2. Diana
    Diana says:

    hhhmmm if i had a girl, i wouuldn’t have thought twice about it, and since my hubbs is French, he wouldn’t really put up a fight either. Now, the circumcision thing … i tell ya, i do wonder if i made the right choice… … and circumcision is not like a hole in your earlobe, that can close up… its a big deal, you can’t go back after!
    Baby girls with earrings are adorable, and no one is scarred for life for getting their ears pierced when they are little, and i hadn’t thought about it, but you’re right, infants probably don’t move as much and fidget with their ears… but i see how piercing ears could be seen as a “coming of age” thing for Anglo moms.

  3. Elena
    Elena says:

    My two daughters were born in Spain at hospitals that don’t pierce baby’s ears any more. Newborns are not supposed to feel anything when their ears are pierced, or so we are told.. This makes the decision so much easier. In my case, time went by and I couldn’t get myself to have them pierced at a pharmacy, even after asking other mothers to recommend a “good” one. In the end my sister took both of them; one cried and the other didn’t. And people stopped asking if my eldest was a boy. Not that she looked like a boy dressed in fuchsia and hot pink!
    But ther’s no right or wrong decision. I figured if I didn’t do it, they would want earings when they grew older and it would be much more painful Of course, if they had their ears pierced, they probably wouldn´t like earrings, to go against their mother!
    Obviously it’s painless, reversible with no long-term consequences. Nothing to do with mutilation.

  4. LLS in SCV
    LLS in SCV says:

    Found this article interesting, and no, I’m not a Latina (but I am American Armenian if that means anything). Personally, though I my 1 baby was a boy, I think if I had had a baby girl, I would have had her ears pierced.

    Actually, it’s the first time I’m ever hearing of non-Latinos (aka “Anglo moms” in this article) calling it barbaric. Strange, but hey, my son is 22yrs old and this is a different generation of moms & Americans.

  5. Angie
    Angie says:

    First, some say moms shouldn’t pierced their baby girls ears ears because it is cruel. On the contrary, moms are doing them a favor to pierce your dd’s ears. Some pediatricians do it in their office or have a trained nurse perform the procedure for mom. If they are doing it, it can’t be deemed cruel.
    Second, I grew up too with a “white bread ”WASPY” mother who didn’t pierce her ears until she was well into her 30s, having been told by my grandmother that only gypsies had pierced ears. At two my mom said I was asking, and asking for them. My best friend had hers done as an infant. I can remember having them done so it wasn’t a good experience either at this age. I told my mom later how I wished she would have pierced them for me soon after birth.
    Third, I know a lot of people have strong feelings when to pierce a child’s ear. “Let them decide” is being replaced by parental decision when mommy intuition knows, “earlier is better” from either personal or friend’s experiences of unpleasant childhood ear piercing. I think it just depends on your own personal choice whether or not you wish your baby or little girl to have pierced ears.
    Fourth, cultural traditions and perceived gender of their child are important. Cerebrally, as mothers of girls of all ages, we know it celebrates their femaleness and femininity. After all, they are little girls, right? Growing up I remember many of my little girlfriends were not allowed to get their ears pierced. I could never understand it…but when their parents did finally let them, it always seemed they’d get infected because they were constantly touching them or trying to change out the earrings before they were supposed to. Many said it was painful, but all cried having a great deal of angst leading up to and including the actual ear piercing.
    Fifth, I never pictured myself piercing my baby’s ears, but we did it at 6 weeks. However, I’d say you’re thinking about it while pregnant or soon after giving birth, then your mommy intuition is telling earlier is better. Our ped encouraged me to do it when mommy could care for them. She gave me some info how to find the right person, place, type of earrings and post care instructions. This was very helpful in making it a good experience for us.
    Lastly, if your’re on the fence “to pierce or not to pierce,” drop me an e-mail if you’d like our ped’s thoughts for moms having their dd’s ears pierced.

    [email protected]

  6. Eileen Carter-Campos
    Eileen Carter-Campos says:

    Great piece Lorraine…
    We can debate about this for days–I remember my ears being pierced the old fashioned way with the needle and thread. Not sure if I would do it that early if I had a baby girl.
    I truly believe it all depends on what you choose for your child.
    With circumcision the same.


  7. Daisy
    Daisy says:

    Loved this article, Lorraine. My ears were pierced when I was about one month old. My grandmother, God bless her soul, tried piercing my ears with ice, a long red thread and a sterilized needle. While the left earlobe went well, the right earlobe piercing went a little too high – so it took a second piercing to even out the look. Then the thread was replaced with a little piece of this wood (how tribal!) and then sweet baby studs. In my 20s, I later went on to further pierce my ears and my nose. All good, no regrets, would do it all over again and would have no issue having a pediatrician pierce my daughter’s ears.

  8. Quetta
    Quetta says:

    I believe getting a little girls ears pierced is unquestionable. They look adorable…i am a africian american woman that has had her ears pierced since child birth by my aunt which used a needle and thread. She burned the needled with fire.. Cleaned in needle in alcohol..numbed ears with ice.. Made each piercing on both earlobes then tied off.. As for cleaning.. We wld uses alcohol each day and vaseline to keep the thread from sticking and make sure you can turn the thread through the hole each day easily from using the vaseline.. She always used white thread due to coloring on thread may or may not cause infection.. Or she would take a piece of the higher piece of straw from the broom that was bundled high that never touch the floor break a piece off clean with alcohol burn on both sides and use until the ears healed with same care as the thread.. We never had infections nor kiloids … All the girls in the family and the time we had atleast 11 girls between 3 sisters … When i reached 16 i pierced my nose same way .. Ice , burned needle and straw… Same care for cleaning ..No infections .. I am now 47.. Earlobes never closed…total 2 piercings on lubes .. One on higher right cartridge and both tragus done.. This is old fashion piercing..

  9. Margarita (
    Margarita ( says:

    I never even knew there was a debate about ear piercing. I’m Puerto Rican and Cuban and got my ears pierced at the hospital as a newborn. Same for my sister who is 10 years younger. Growing up in south Florida with such a large Hispanic population I guess that’s the norm.

    Being that I only ever had “gringo” boyfriends I’ve never seen an uncircumcised man before either. And I’m not Googling it to find out! I didn’t know that was unusual either until recently.

  10. isa
    isa says:

    I didn’t pierce my daughters ears either… I kinda like that people don’t know if she’s a boy or girl ;; me and controversy…always 😉

  11. Sandra Ramos O'Briant
    Sandra Ramos O'Briant says:

    Best piece on this controversial subject, and thank you for not neglecting to tie in circumcision. You’re right! It is their choice. Culture? Tradition? It’s all trendy when you really think about it.

  12. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    This is also very common in Italian-American culture. My ears were pierced when I was a baby. I guess my only problem with it is that I never had the choice, and I see it as having gender norms forced upon children at a young age, ie, girls are for decoration.

  13. Elba
    Elba says:

    My daughter’s ears are pierced although I struggled with it as well. My mother pierced mine on a CTA bus when I was 13 and it was awful! My little one barely batted an eyelash.

  14. betty dunn
    betty dunn says:

    I was told that as aportarican feamale it is in their cculture to have @ least 3 ear pierceing because it means rolalty or class .I have never heard of such a thing

  15. jrg973
    jrg973 says:

    In olden day’s when people where much more Gentile…Men who went to Sea…wore a Gem in their ear…and If they drowned…and then be found…The Gem payed 4 their burial, and some Grog!
    If’in u steal a dead man’s stone…it will weigh you down…in the Sea of Life! Have a Nice Day.


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