Trend Translation: Popular Culture and the Rise in Facial Piercings

by Lorna
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young woman with multiple piercings

Like so many of us, you may have noticed that in the past five years or so, body modification (particularly facial piercings) has seen a meteoric rise amongst the younger generations.  You can hardly go anywhere without noticing multiple persons with facial piercings, especially if you work in a fashion, retail, or beauty related industry.  And here’s a fun little experiment: next time you’re talking to multiple people at once, like at an office meeting or a social function, count the number of people who have at least one visible piercing or tattoo other than single piercings of the ear lobes.  If the lobes are stretched or pierced multiple times, other parts of the ear are pierced, or you know for a fact that there’s a tattoo even if you can’t see it, those people count.  Now take a look at the results.  If you live in the US or UK and there were at least ten people in the room, the chances that you counted more people “with” than “without” modifications are about fifty percent.  Cool, right?

So what caused so many of us to suddenly be so modified?  Well, according to several sources, a lot of it has to do with pop culture and the likelihood of those under thirty five imitating celebrity in one form or another.  Even if it works out in a six-degrees-of-Kevin Bacon kind of way, chances are high that our choices of wardrobe, beauty products, and even piercing style have been indirectly influenced by a trend running through popular culture.  Here’s what I mean:

Hayley Williams and septum piercing

Say Hayley Williams, front-woman of the popular band Paramore, gets a piercing (like the septum piercing she got a couple of years ago).  Someone who’s a huge Paramore fan then sees a snapshot of Hayley’s new look, and decides to go for it.  Now say that person also happens to have a super cute hairstyle that’s been photographed, along with their new septum ring, and posted all over Tumblr.  One of the two hundred people who snags the photo reposts it with the tag “awesome prom hair.”  Then right before prom, you decide to run a Google search for “awesome prom hairstyles.”  The photo of the cute girl with the awesome hair that got her septum pierced because of Hayley Williams pops up.  You see it, and decide that a cute little septum ring will look just as good on you as it does on her.  This means that indirectly, Paramore has influenced your fashion sense and piercing style.  Mind boggling, I know.

In fact, in the past five years concerning young celebrities and body modification, here’s just a few things that have happened:

Anne Hathoway, Cameron Diaz, Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Emma Stone, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Alba, Joss Stone, Julia Stiles, Kate Beckinsale, Kirsten Dunst, Lady Gaga, Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, Miley Cyrus, Nikki Reed, Rihanna, Selena Gomez, Taryn Manning, Uma Thurman, Kate Moss, and Zoe Saldana (just to name a few) have rocked multiple piercings in their ears including tragus piercings, helixes, and rooks.

 celebrities with cartilage piercings

Cassie, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Emily Browning, Amber Rose, Britney Spears, and Rachel Bilson took the plunge and got nipple piercings.

Rooney Mara was pierced about a dozen times in a single sitting in order to play Lisbeth Salander in the English language remake of Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

facial piercings for Dragon Tattoo (source: WGSN)

Lady Gaga is now up to ten tattoos, all of them on the left side of her body.

And all that is just the tip of the iceberg.  Nearly every time a celebrity rocks a new piercing (like Miley Cyrus’s nose piercing, ScarJo’s septum, or Amber Rose’s lip ring), it isn’t long until that piercing sees a surge in popularity.  For better or worse, our facial piercing fates are at least partially in the media’s hands.  Now it’s just a matter of cooler body jewelry.

by Lorna

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