Body Modification History: a Punk, a Pal and a Safety Pin

by Lorna
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punk girl with safety pin jewelry

Those of us who have piercings today (most of us anyways) remember being cleaned up and pierced by a professional.  Sterilized instruments, single use piercing needles, clean and well-trained piercers with proof of their ability plastered on the walls.  But this wasn’t always how piercings took place.  In a far away time (known to most as the 70s) there weren’t piercing parlors in every major city.  There weren’t any standards for professionalism, or resources for education, and those who were still developing best practices and pro reputations had to fend for themselves without huge internet databases at their disposal.  During these dark beginnings, most piercings were finagled with a close friend who got an A in anatomy and a simple, standard safety pin.

As piercing became popularized, first in the UK and then the United States, those who considered themselves a part of the anti-establishment or punk movement were piercing anything from their ears and noses to their eyebrows and lips at home in the kitchen.  If you lived through the 80s, you might even remember witnessing a scenario yourself that involved a chunk of ice, a sewing pin, and a prayer.  So why is it so bad to pierce with a safety pin?  I mean, those people survived it, right?

 young retro punk boys

Well, although they survived, many of those piercings did become infected at one time or another, which is generally painful and can occasionally be serious.  But the better question is, with the resources at our disposal today, why would you risk it?  When a piercing is performed by a professional, they use a hollow piercing needle that actually removes the tissue, creating a space for the jewelry to go.  Piercings that are done with a safety pin don’t remove the tissue, but rather cause it trauma, and once jewelry is inserted, the surrounding flesh is under pressure.  This pressure is one of the chief causes of migration, infection, or rejection.

 ears pierced with safety pins(source: WGSN)

So even though those guys from your favorite band might wear safety pins in their ears sometimes, we can all take comfort in the fact that they’re probably special titanium pin jewelry being worn in a properly healed piercing that was performed at the parlor.  See.  Evolution is good.

by Lorna

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