Body piercings have been around since forever. Anthropologists believe body piercings may have been common even before the advent of the agrarian economy (living by farming, as opposed to hunting). That’s a long time before the goth kids and punk rockers made body piercings a lucrative trade. Piercings are one of those rare fashion trends that can apply to men and women both. Both a man and a woman can have a pierced nose, and be perceived the same way. That’s why body piercings can be so unique: they almost surpass gender.
Nowadays, most people have pierced ears or noses. To understand how certain kinds of piercings have become so popular above others, it’s important to know a bit about the modern history of body piercings. Piercings can be broadly categorized in two parts as facial piercings and body piercings. Facial piercings are more common than in other parts of the body, mostly because of the fact that they tend to be more visible. Some types of facial piercings are even culturally approved and maybe even mandatory.
For example, in South India, it’s a traditional practice for an adult woman to pierce her nostrils and ears. The controversial thing would be not to do so. This is in quite stark contrast to how the same types of piercings were perceived in western societies in the nineties. Nose and earring piercings were popular among teenagers during this time, and was widely considered a sign of teen rebellion. As far as teens are concerned, the more the parents hate it, the more they want to do it.
In the twenty first century, much of the controversy surrounding piercings have dissipated, so it’s more common to see people sporting fashionable eyebrow or lip piercings. In North America, about fourteen percent of the adult population has a piercing. Women are more than two-thirds likely than men to have a piercing.
It’s not that difficult to understand why. Piercings, especially facial ones, are more acceptable for women than for men, who are not as likely to accessorize with body jewelry due to stigma. And yet, interesting enough, the most popular piercings are equally favored by both men and women.
When it comes down to the statistics of most popular piercings, ear piercings, in or around the earlobe, seems to have a head start, at least in western societies. Most piercings in adults are ear piercings, and the numbers are significantly higher in women (almost sixty percent) than in men (a little over twenty percent).
Ear piercings are one of the most visible of piercings and do not necessarily come with any statements (other than fashion). It may explain their massive popularity among both men and women nowadays. After ear piercings, navel piercings are the most popular among women. A little over three percent of women choose to pierce their navels. On the other hand, navel piercings are close to zero among men. Clearly, gender differences play a significant role in which piercings men and women prefer.
After nose and ear piercings, gender continues to eschew the statistics of most popular piercings. About two percent of women choose to pierce their noses, while the less than one percent of men prefer to do the same. Around one percent (rounded percentages) of women and men both get tongue piercings. Men on average get lesser piercings than women, especially facial ones. However, men and women are roughly alike in their preferences for eyebrow piercings. Eyebrow piercings are edgy and bold, and that attracts only a select few to try out this kind of piercing.
Surprisingly enough, the number of men who get nipple piercings are roughly the same as women. Most of these piercings—navel, nipple and tongue—have sexual connotations attached. In the nineties, when piercings really took off, some believed piercings in such places would increase sexual attractiveness and maybe even enhance sexual pleasure. Those ideas largely remain the same as these types of piercings remain popular.
Interestingly enough, lip piercings have taken a tumble as a popular body piercing. Pierced lips were common throughout the eighties and nineties, but nowadays less than one percent of either men or women get one. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that lip piercings affect a person’s ability to pronounce certain sounds, which affects everyday functioning.
Piercings are no longer a teen trend. Most piercings are sported by adults with high functioning social and professional lives. They prefer to have piercings that do not affect everyday life, like lip piercings does with communication.
Genital piercings, too, are now less popular than they were about two decades ago. When it comes to the numbers in percentages, they are minuscule for both men and women. This is mainly due to safety issues. When it comes to bodily piercing of any kind, safety trumps fashion. Few dare to risk the complications of genital piercings not done safely. Also, though it’s very much possible to get a genital piercing done safely, it might cost considerably more than a regular nostril piercing.
Many kinds of piercings suit men and women both. Rather than going with what’s most popular, anyone considering a piercing should think first about whether a certain kind of piercing would be suitable. Some people may have health conditions that prevent them from getting popular types of piercings. Before getting a piercing, think about where you want it and how visible the piercing should be. Do not decide hastily.
Do proper research on safety of the kind of piercing you want and do not hesitate to take two or three days to decide. When you are absolutely sure, carefully select a piercing artist. Think about reputability and safety of the provider foremost. It might be best to go with a temporary piercing rather than a permanent one initially.
This article was submitted by one of our Guest Bloggers:
Many Thanks, Mads