There’s nothing new about naths and jhumkas; women and girls in our part of the world have sported pierced noses and earlobes since, well...forever. From the Mohenjo-Daro dancing girl to Umrao Jan Ada and our very own desi supermodels, women in the subcontinent certainly aren’t afraid of a little needling. What’s changed in the past two decades is just where the needles are going.
We’ve become used to seeing international celebrities with pierced lips, eyebrows and belly-buttons, but we’re increasingly seeing young people in Pakistan also follow suit. Some are inspired by their favourite celebs, some see it as a mark of their individuality and for some it’s just a somewhat painful fashion statement.
Sharique, from Sarwana Jeweller in Gulf Shopping Mall and Bohri Bazaar is an eye-witness to how the trend has changed. He told The Express Tribune that they have been in the piercing business for 40 years but until now they only pierced noses and ear lobes. However, since the last 12 years, their needles have been boldly piercing what they haven’t pierced before! “We were the first ones to introduce eyebrow and belly piercings in Pakistan, and today we get an average of 40 customers on a daily basis. Talking about ear piercings alone, there are a variety of ear parts that can be pierced, namely above the ear lobe, the cartilage, tragus, anti-tragus, snug and orbital. There are more female clients but we often get male clients as well who mostly get their eyebrows, earlobes and labret (lip) pierced. We do not use the gun, instead, we do all the piercings by hand,” said Sharique. According to him, gun piercings are more painful and there are more chances of infection. So how badly does this pierce your pocket? “For tongue piercings we charge Rs2000, for the naval Rs1500, eyebrows Rs450, labret Rs450 and Rs300 to 700 for the nose and ear, depending on which studs are used,” quoted Sharique.
The traditional nose piercing has transformed into a trend now. Before that, it was only associated with married women. “A nose piercing is something a girl can add to her facial looks since the nose is the most prominent feature; piercing accentuates it and makes one look more attractive,” said Kissa, who is in her teens and recently got her nose pierced. According to Kissa, to decide on a pin or ring, one has to see the shape of their nose. If opting for a nose pin, it should be an appropriately sized one so that it’s not mistaken for a pimple!
That’s that for the girls...but what are the boys up to? This is what Sikandar Khan, a 22-year-old student and a national level swimmer, has to say: “I got my eyebrow pierced from London recently. It was my personal choice and I also think it makes one look hip,” he said. So how did his family and friends react? “My parents didn’t object,” says Sikander. “As for others, it’s a free world and everyone has a right to make their own identity.” According to him, piercings hurt in the beginning but heal with time if cleaned with alcohol swabs. He hopes people accept this new trend soon because after all, it’s a matter of personal choice. Even though we may not be too receptive to men with piercings, it’s a fact that through the ages, kings and princes in our part of the world have often sported earrings. Even the very macho Sultan Rahi wore earrings at one point or the other.
I’ll leave you with a cautionary tale: a friend of mine got a ring in her eyebrow, and during a spate of load-shedding, managed to walk into the edge of a door and ended up lacerating her eyebrow! So the moral of the story is that in piercing, as in life, it’s best to go into things with your eyes open!
Who’s doing the piercing?
Although there are a very limited number of places that do piercings besides the ear and nose, it is still vital to make sure that the person doing the piercing is experienced and is doing it under hygienic conditions. What’s even more important is that the earring/needle that is being used for the piercing is sterilised.
Use the right disinfectant
For a few days after a piercing, it is advisable to clean your pierced region with an alcohol swab and apply an ointment to it so it doesn’t become infected.
Keep your hands clean
Newly pierced areas are prone to infection. It’s important to wash your hands before touching the newly pierced area.
A social taboo
Unfortunately, in our society, too many body piercings and their visibility are frowned upon. People judge you for having too many piercings.
Use good quality jewellery
It is important to be aware of the fact that sometimes certain metals react and cause an infection. Not all metals suit everyone. It’s best to stick to high quality metals and those that don’t cause a reaction.
Piercing guns are a big no no
It is preferred that guns aren’t used for piercing for the simple reason that they are not as clean and sterile as a needle/earring. There are more chances of infection with a gun piercing.
Seek medical help if required
If an infection is forming and an ointment isn’t doing the healing trick, it’s best to get medical attention. Such a condition should not be taken lightly.
If you have recently gotten a piercing somewhere on your face, avoid using makeup for a while. Most cosmetics contain oils that can cause infection.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2011.
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