If you’re a fan of music, or particularly singers themselves, you might already be aware of the current nipple piercing trend among female musicians and celebrities. Those who have recently gone under the needle include Cassie, Rihanna, Alecia Moore (better known as Pink), and Amber Rose, just to name a few. Other singers and actresses who were known to have piercings prior to the trend’s upsweep include Christina Aguilera, Nicole Richie, and of course Janet Jackson, whose nipple shield became the talk of every Super Bowl party in 2004.
The historical context of nipple piercing is riddled with a great deal more speculation than its contemporary counterpart however. It has been suggested that this type of piercing commonly occurred amid “civilized” cultures dating back all the way to the Roman Empire, but little historical evidence has surfaced to support these claims. The initial idea was that Roman Centurions attached their capes through hoops worn in the piercing, but this has since been disproved as a misunderstanding, as the hoops in question would actually be attached to the pectoral area of metal breastplates. Another popular and controversial theory states that society women in the Victorian era may have popularized female nipple piercing for a short while, but as pointed out by several researchers, this may be purely anecdotal or based on publications from the time period.
It is known that many tribal societies, including the Karankawa (Native Americans common to the Gulf Coast) and the Kabyle of Algeria have practiced this type of piercing along with others. Also that nipple piercing likely occurred among sailors from both the Americas and Europe as a rite of passage or possible commemoration of journeys to exotic lands. Whatever centuries old historical folklore is true or false, it can’t be denied that this piercings’ popularity can only continue to grow. And whether it’s a statement of endurance, awareness for breast cancer, or just a personal choice of aesthetics, the nipple ring is here to stay.