Piercings are a hot topic, especially when it comes to anyone under 18. It’s the kind of thing that no one can seem to come to a clear consensus on — not even the American Academy of Pediatrics has an official stance on it, except to advise that piercings are “performed carefully and cared for conscientiously” — and feelings are strongly polarized either way. Some argue that ear piercings, for example, inflict unnecessary pain on kids; for others it’s a rite of passage, and for some it’s even a cultural expectation.
“Piercings are not more harmful to babies than they are to adults, and any complications of an ear piercing are not determined by age. They can happen to people of all ages,” says WebMD. Many parents opt to wait until the child asks to have their ears pierced; however, one study found that keloids, or excessive scar tissue, were more likely to develop when ears are pierced after the age of 11 than before.
If you’re getting your baby’s ears pierced, you should be sure you’re committed to keeping the piercings clean until they fully heal and monitoring closely for signs of infection. And if you’re waiting until your child is old enough to make their own decision regarding getting pierced, it’s advisable to wait until they’re also responsible enough to care for their own piercings.
When it comes to other piercings, such as the nose or belly button, the debate is even more fierce. Piercings in any other area seem to fall more squarely into the realm of “body modification” than ears do, and many states have laws regulating whether kids under 18 can get such modifications without parents. (You can find a list of regulations by state here).
Love them or hate them, piercings have always been, and are always going to be, a topic of debate — especially when you’re a celebrity parent whose every move is scrutinized in the public eye. When they make the decision to allow piercings, of any kind, it’s a guarantee that the keyboard commandos will come out of the woodwork to weigh in. Here are some of the celebrity moms who have caught major flak for their kids’ piercings.
When Mariah Carey documented her then-4-year-old daughter Monroe’s ear piercing on Instagram with the cute caption, “Roe Roe got her ears pierced!!” she got some definite shade in the comments. “That’s child abuse,” said one, while another snarked, “Ouch! Poor baby girl.”
Admittedly, though, Monroe’s age wasn’t what had fans the most shook — it was the fact that she’d gotten it done at a Claire’s store. Celebrities: they’re just like us!
Just ahead of oldest daughter North West’s first birthday, Kim Kardashian and her then-husband Kanye West came under fire when photos of their baby girl on a birthday outing revealed that she was wearing teeny diamond studs. There was an outcry on social media, with people tweeting things like, “Far too young. Let her decide for herself when older! Should be banned, unneccessary (sic) and cruel. Purely for vanity of parents.”
Former Biggest Loser trainer and fitness guru Jillian Michaels defended her choice to have her then-4-year-old son’s ears pierced on her Instagram account.
“Yes, he got his ears pierced,” she wrote with the accompanying photo. “His sister got hers pierced and he wanted his done. I wasn’t about to say ‘That’s for girls.'”
Hilary Duff has found herself under scrutiny not once, but twice for the Great Piercing Debate. The first time around was in 2019, when she was shamed for piercing her then-8-month-old daughter Banks’ ears. Then in late 2021 she revealed on her Instagram stories that her daughter Mae James, 7 months old at the time, also had her ears pierced.
“Yes I pierced her ears today,” Duff wrote. “Can’t wait for the Internet to call me a child abuser … again.”
Teen Mom alum (and controversy magnet) Farrah Abraham found herself under fire for allowing her daughter, Sophia, to get a septum piercing for her 13th birthday. Abraham addressed the backlash in an interview with TMZ.
“I would rather it be by a professional, sanitized and clean, than my teen going, sneaking off and doing it herself and getting an infection,” she said, adding that she doesn’t mind if this piercing is the first of many. “[I]f she wants to get more piercings, more power to her.”
When her daughter was five months old, a video Kylie Jenner posted on her social media had the Internet up in arms when folks realized that baby Stormi was sporting a pair of studs.
“How can she put holes in her baby! Awful I could never cause my baby unnecessary pain,” one angry commenter wrote. Still, many people came to Kylie’s defense — pointing out that in many cultures, ear piercing is done before the baby even leaves the hospital.
A weekend Instagram snap in 2013 turned into a firestorm of controversy for Gisele Bundchen when fans noticed that her then-8-month-old daughter Vivian had a pair of gold studs in her ears (paired with an amber teething necklace for the trendy tot, naturally).
Good Morning America asked its fans to weigh in, and Twitter was abuzz with opinions: “Piercing in infancy takes their choice away,” tweeted a viewer; another chimed in, “What’s next?? A tattoo??” However, many pointed out that for the Brazilian-born Bundchen, it may be a cultural thing.
Khloe Kardashian’s Instagram post celebrating her 34th birthday got loads of attention — but not for the birthday girl. Instead, fans zeroed in on the fact that her daughter True, who was two months old at the time, had pierced ears.
“No way did @khloekardashian get True’s ears pierced,” tweeted one apparently-outraged fan. “she’s a baby and not even half a year old yet. Ooooh Khloe…” Others saw True’s pierced ears as proof that the Kardashian clan values looks above all else: “‘Of course @khloekardashian pierced True’s ears that whole entire family only care about how they look! I mean I’m surprised none of them have put make up on their babies yet.'”
Further proving that celebrity moms can’t please all of the people, all of the time, Angelina Jolie received backlash for taking her kids Zahara and Shiloh — then 6 and 5 years old, respectively — to get their ears pierced in London.
But even though they weren’t infants, folks had plenty to say — especially when witnesses relayed that Zahara burst into tears while her ears were being pierced, causing Shiloh to opt out altogether.
“To stick a needle in a young child’s ears for the benefit of pleasing the parent (not the child, she hasn’t asked for it) is abuse,” is just one of the angry comments reported by social media outlets.
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