Choosing your battles wisely

Part of this post was first written as a guest post for

I’m not sure if my complete lack of interest in my appearance as a child was because I knew that with NHS specs, buck teeth and frizzy hair I was fighting a losing battle, or if a toddlerdom of brown flared cords and orange jumpers put me off at a young age. I spent the first 16 years of my life driving my mother mad by hating shopping and clothes, then driving her even crazier in the early nineties when I dressed exclusively in torn opaque tights, teeny skirts and DMs (and sometimes a bowler hat, I’m sure I had a good reason).

My 8yo daughter is very different. She has always had very definite ideas of what she will and will not wear and spends hours angsting about clothes. She’s impossible to second guess, one minute girly in sparkly dresses, the next proudly sporting her Liverpool kit or sophisticated in tights and shorts accessorised with 80s style gloves and a fashion scarf tossed carelessly around her neck. ‘Just put on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt’ I manage not to say through gritted teeth, saving my arguments for the inevitable appropriate footwear conversation.

8yo has always been fascinated by pierced ears and has always wanted to get her ears pierced. Since she could speak. Always. And she nags a lot. My automatic reaction was, like most parents, ‘not until you are 16’ knowing full well it would be bargained down to 13 then possibly the year she starts secondary school.

Because the subject was brought up so very often I began to wonder about my reasons for saying no. Was it a snob thing? On the continent, in Asia, in the States piercing the ears of small girls is very common and doesn’t raise a single eyebrow. In the UK it seems to be a mark of pride to delay it as long as possible. I canvassed opinion. Infection, said some, too young to know what they want, said others but underlying all that was the unsaid ‘nice girls don’t’.

I knew she knew her own mind. Five years of nagging proved that. Horror stories and the scariest Youtube videos I could find were no deterrent. Plus we might have a better chance of combating infection while I still bathed her and controlled the bedtime routine. So why didn’t I want to? Because if it was about snobbery I didn’t want to be part of that.

She must have sensed I was weakening. The nagging intensified and one day I shocked her by agreeing. It didn’t shock her as much as the pain did though. The actual piercing left her white and shaking. Turns out no matter how many You Tube videos of crying girls I’d shown her she never quite believed that having a hole punched in your ear would hurt.

In the end I decided to save my strength for the battles I really care about, conceding this one to her because in the grand scheme of things there is a lot more to parenting, a lot more to worry about than a hole in an earlobe. And now they’re in? They don’t bother me at all, actually. I almost quite like them shining away on her lobes. Almost…


About yrosered

What happens when you mix post-election despair with some clever Facebook marketing and 3 glasses of wine? Life as a newly awakened tentative political activist negotiating the rocky swells of the Labour leadership election
This entry was posted in Anatomy, Body Image and Self Esteem and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Choosing your battles wisely

  1. helen says:

    Interesting. My mother said not until I was 16, I took my mother at her word and promptly forgot about it. When I got to 16 I couldn’t be bothered anymore (still haven’t).
    Thinking about the reason I wouldn’t do my little girls now is because I think it is a chavvy, common thing for young girls to have done. But I don’t know WHY I think like this, not sure what the root is. Maybe because it is something only adults used to have done and therefore I also equate it to the growing sexualisation of our children? Maybe because I have just been brain washed by everyone else pulling faces if young girls ears are pierced.
    But you are right there really is no good reason (as long as they are old enough to keep them clean whilst they heal) and is it really a battle worth fighting?
    Made me think. Thanks.

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