Societal Pressure – Can it be Removed?

One summer day when I was five years old, I asked my mom if I could get my ears pierced. After thinking for a moment, she agreed and we scheduled an appointment for later that day. We did not tell my dad about our plan because I wanted to surprise him. However, looking back, I am surprised that my mom did not feel the need to confer with him about it. I guess she felt that it was not his decision; it was mine. In retrospect, I am amazed that my dad was not upset when he came home from work to find my ears pierced. Rather, he smiled and told me that the earrings looked pretty.

        My parents gave me free reign to decide that I wanted my ears pierced. However, I wonder if that was the right decision. I was only five years old. At that age, I could not decide what I wanted to eat for lunch, so how could my parents trust me to decide that I wanted my ears pierced? Although earrings are technically temporary and can be removed if need be, the holes in the ears never completely disappear. While I do not regret getting my ears pierced that day, I am uncertain of the true motivations behind my desire to pierce my ears. Did I genuinely like the look of earrings, or did I just see my older sister and her friends with earrings and decide that pierced ears is something all girls must have? I know now that I do like the look of earrings in my ears, but who knows what I was thinking at the time I got them pierced.

        There is a good chance that I wanted my ears pierced simply because I thought that was what girls did, which brings up another question involving gender stereotypes. Why are earrings associated primarily with females? Yes, males are allowed to get their ears pierced, but that definitely is not the norm. Additionally, if they do get their ears pierced, they face various social prejudices. For example, people have claimed that an earring in the left ear indicates that a man is heterosexual while an earring in the right ear indicates that a man is homosexual. While these classifications may not hold truth, the fact that they exist says a lot. Society pigeonholes people into certain identities. Certain behaviors associate a person with different identities. People work tirelessly to abide by society’s arbitrary classifications, but what is it about society that creates this pressure to conform? Why can’t society allow individuals to express themselves in their own way?

        As I ponder these questions, I wonder if maybe it is not a problem with society but rather a problem with its members. Although there may not be a clear distinction between the two, we are the ones who make up society, so if society is not the uplifting inclusive entity that we desire, then it is our responsibility to change it. Maybe if we decide to embrace our authentic selves and encourage others to do the same, then a changed society will follow suit. In such a society, earrings would no longer be the social norm but rather a simple form of self-expression.