From love to sheer loathing, my tattoos definitely get mixed reactions. But what receives even more raised eyebrows are my stretched ears. “Why would you do that?” they ask, “You know they’ll never go back, right?” I try to allow my bemused smile speak for itself because ‘pick your battles,’ right?
I’ve been interested in body modification since I was 14. That was the year I got my first piercing: a vertical labret through the centre of my lip. During my teenaged years I had up to 13 piercings all at one time. Over time I took most of them out either because they were migrating or I no longer fancied them. But my stretched ears and nose ring remain.
Like tattoos, other forms of body modification allow us to literally design the skin we’re in. Like an extreme (and more permanent) form of style, they allow us to express our inner vision for ourselves.
A beautiful example of this is Grace Neutral. She calls herself a kawaii space princess and her tattooed purple eyes, pointed elf ears, and lunar scarification beautifully match this description.
While my body modifications seem a lot less extreme in comparison, they’ve still been an important form of self-expression for me since I was young.
UK Custom Plugs recently sent me three pairs of their beautiful earrings to try out and I’ve absolutely loved discovering their website. From the polished crystal pieces they sent me to tiny art prints for your ears, it’s absolutely chockablock with beautiful, affordable body jewellery.
From the skeptical to the genuinely curious, I get a lot of questions about my stretched ears. So I thought I’d answer all of these questions in one place for anyone who’s curious, while showing off my new jewels.
Do you plan to stretch them anymore?
No, I’ve toyed with the idea but I’m quite happy with the way they look and I love my little collection of earrings.
How long did it take you to get them that large?
I started stretching them when I was 14. I got them to 00 gauge (10mm) that year and then left them for quite a while. During my first year of university, when I was 19, I decided to stretch them again and I gradually made them bigger over the next few months.
How did you stretch your ears?
The first time I stretched my ears, I bought a bright pink, 8 gauge (3mm) tapered earring. I sat on my bed squeezing a pillow while my friend shoved it through the pinprick sized hole in your ear. Make no mistake, stretching your ears HURTS and that was a big first stretch. I stretched them more gradually after that, leaving plenty of time in between to allow my ears to heal completely. While in university, I used layers of electrical tape on an existing earring to more gently stretch the holes. When in doubt about these kinds of things, please consult a piercing professional. I’ve had friends completely split their ears from stretching too quickly, which is a bloody mess and never heals properly afterwards.
What aftercare did you use to heal them?
I cleaned the area with saline solution and a Q-tip twice a day and when it had healed a little bit, used a gentle moisturiser once or twice a day.
Will your ears ever go back to “normal”?
In short, no. If I took my earrings out permanently, they’d shrink back a little bit but never go back to “normal” or even to a pinprick. There are a couple of options if you don’t want to have stretched ears anymore. You can have them stitched back up or, less drastically, you can wear flesh coloured earrings. But I’m still really happy with mine.
If you got sick of your piercings, do you think you’ll outgrow your tattoos as well?
To be honest, there are days where, if I could, I would scrub of all of my tattoos and start over. Or I’d have completely bare skin for a while. And many tattooed people I’ve talked to have said the same. It’s like waking up one day, absolutely hating your hair, and wanting to shave your head. The feeling passes. And most days, I absolutely love them. If I had to have every piercing I’ve ever had for the rest of my life, I’d be okay with that. I still have the scars. It’s all part of my story.
Do you plan to get any more body modifications?
While I have plans to get many more tattoos (yes, I will be more or less covered), I don’t plan to explore any other body modifications. I’d never say never, but I don’t have plans for any. For a little while I’d toyed with the idea of pointed pixie ears and scarification, as I think they’re so beautiful. But ultimately I decided they didn’t completely match the vision I have of myself and when I was really honest, I realized I wasn’t up for the intensive healing process. Body modifications are a serious decision, so I’d advise anyone considering one to do a lot of research, consult with a professional, and give yourself lots of time to mull it over.
Thank you so much to UK Custom Plugs for the beautiful earrings. The quality is absolutely stunning and getting to wear little pieces of crystal in my ears feels extra magical. I even wore the rose quartz pair to my wedding and the amethyst and moonstone are in frequent rotation in my wardrobe.
Do you have any questions about body modifications? Do you have any yourself?