Kylie Jenner is facing backlash after videos of her five-month-old daughter revealed pierced ears.
The 20-year-old reality TV star’s recent Snapchat story showed her daughter, Stormi, wearing sparkling studs.
And while the act of piercing a baby’s ears isn’t anything new — in fact, it has been a tradition for many cultures worldwide for decades — it does bring back an age-old debate in the parenting world: is there a right age to pierce a child’s ear?
The great ear debate
Parenting coach Julie Romanowski of Miss Behaviour tells Global News it all comes down to the parents’ intentions. Why are choosing to do this in the first place?
“Whether it’s an intention or reason for health, culture or family benefit, as a parent, ensure the decision is good for you and your child as well as based on the right reasons,” she says. “Many of these circumstances are just ‘done,’ and less often is there full awareness as to why this decision is being done.”
Jenner isn’t the only celebrity to bring back this debate. In 2014, her half-sister Kim Kardashian was under fire for piercing her daughter North West’s ears. In 2016, reality star Coco Austin was criticized for piercing her 10-week-old daughter Chanel’s ear.
The act has been called everything from wrong to cruel to even abusive. In Jenner’s case, some users on social media didn’t hold back.
Romanowski says the “outrage” and debate is completely justifiable.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and by putting it out there on social media, you will get a social response,” she says.
“Ultimately it’s the choice of the parent to engage in it or not. This still boils down to the ‘intention’ as to why you are wanting to pierce the child’s ears.”
That notion was also seen on social media — others shouldn’t have the right to criticize what another parent is doing to their own child.
Some users brought up how it wasn’t a big deal; years ago, some hospitals even offered ear piercings after birth.
Two sides to the debate
Roxana Soto, co-founder of Spanglish Baby, previously told Today.com the practice was very common for Latina mothers and it had nothing to do with vanity.
“It’s simply a cultural tradition. So much so that I freaked out when I learned my first child was a girl because I had no idea where I would take her to get her ears pierced,” she said. “I honestly don’t understand why some people care and why some moms have made such a big deal of piercing baby’s ears.”
“While some believe that the pierced ears help ward off evil, some acupuncturists suggest that the earlobe is a vital acupuncture point and that ear piercing may have a therapeutic value. Some pierce their ears for purely traditional or aesthetic reasons,” the site notes.
But others like writer Emma Waverman of Today’s Parent argue she doesn’t want her daughter to pierce her ears.
“It makes sense to wait until a kid can take care of the inevitable infections and be responsible enough not to lose all the bits and pieces,” she wrote. “I find earrings a distraction from a child’s beauty rather than an enhancement.”
But is it safe?
Dr. Tanya Altmann told Today.com that if parents are interested in piercing their child’s ear, they should wait until the child is at least four months old. “Anytime you pierce the skin, you have a risk of infection,” Altmann said. “And that risk is always higher if you’re piercing a baby’s ear outside of a doctor’s office environment.”
She added she rarely saw piercing-related infections in babies, as long as parents are careful when it comes to the healing process.
Romanowski adds before you do it, be confident about your decision.
“Listen to your gut instinct and make a decision based on what is best for you and your baby,” she says. “My personal and professional philosophy is to ‘keep everyone as successful as possible.’ If making the decision to do the piercing allows everyone to stay/remain successful, then I would go with that. If it is going to cause trauma, negativity, stress or heartache – for you or your child – I would avoid whatever would take me down that road.”