Northern Thailand

From Geshem, a pair of young girls in northern Thailand with stretched lobes (and a kid in the background perhaps fantasizing about a facial tattoo!).

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

63 thoughts on “Northern Thailand

  1. wow, the cultural differences are insane. i doubt any parent would get away with having a child that young with stretched ears.

  2. That is really interesting. Funny how as #1 said people in westernized societies would think this is horrible but they are the same people taking there kids to get their ears pierced at the mall when they are younger than these girls. Oh and the little boy wih marker on his face just awsome!

  3. I wonder what would happen in the states (or western world for that matter) if a parent decided to stretch their child’s ears.

  4. one of the most precious faces (and ears) that i have seen in so long! thanks shannon. shes so cute!

  5. I keep thinking about the QOD question from a vacation bible camp lady asking if a 14g hole would be permanent in some 8yr old camper’s lobe. She thought it was irresponsible for the parent to allow this boy to have his ear pierced this “large” and have this huge hole for life. Of course she is liberal and has no problem with gunned lobes. Then explained how she wasn’t being judgemental. I would love for her to see this picture.

  6. What an awesome pic, her ears are larger then mine by a long way, props to her. I agree with everything said about different cultural contexts, in the west methinks a parent would be charged with child abuse, but in this pic perfectly acceptable, aint the world great.

  7. thailand is amazing. rad food, chill people, great weather. i wish i had my lobes stretched at that age. my ears would be huge now.

  8. looks like her lobes are in great shape too! absolutely beautiful and fleshy. i wonder at what size she will end up.

  9. No, it doesn’t make me want to just walk away from the west. Cultural differences do not boil down to children with stretched lobes.

  10. if she immigrated to the states and was plunked down in an average gradeschool, she would definitely be the coolest kid in class cause she could fit like 5 crayons in her ears during coloring time

  11. The aesthetics of the ears and the adorable little face are lovely, which worries me as I don’t think little kids should have mods on principle.
    However, in Western society lobe piercings on girls are a gender/sexual issue (women will pierce their babies’ lobes to “show” that they’re girls) which is one reason that it makes me uncomfortable.
    What are the connotations of the stretched lobes here?

  12. I don’t fucking get it. One day Shannon posts a picture of a cute little kid tattooing her daddy, and people go fucking ape shit and start shooting them down “Oh that’s so fucked up” “wah wah wah” etc… then he posts a picture of a cute little kid with stretched ears, and people say it’s so fucking cute. What’s the goddamn deal?!

    Personally, I think both are great. I’d let my kid tattoo me, and I think the above picture is cute, but then again I wasn’t shooting my mouth off in the other posts and saying how fucked up it was.

    How is a kid tattooing her dad SO bad, but a little girl with stretched lobes (just because she lives in Thailand) so fucking cute?

    The hypocrisy is fucking stunning.

  13. geez, yes, it is an adorable photo, and yes her lobes are looking good. but there’s just something about this that doesn’t sit right with me. maybe it’s a cultural barrier keeping me from loving this to bits, but there’s no way the kid could give informed consent for a mod with such long-lasting effects. i know many of us regret our guardians’ decisions to gun pierce our lobes or something similar… don’t see how it’s too much different in this case in terms of the child’s right to control his or her body.

    loving the markered up little dude, though!

  14. WhiteTrash, the reason is probably cultural norms. Granted it’s a very stupid reason, but that’s probably the reason.

  15. Very spiffy. I wonder what kind of traditions lead to this. Is it a coming of age thing, a tride thing, spritual thing??

  16. haha, this makes me feel bad. her ears are a lot bigger than mine, and im wayyy older, lol.

  17. #26: I think the reason people aren’t attacking this pic is BECAUSE it’s so fucking cute. My opinion: As long as it was her choice/ decision, and not her parents, I fully support it. Youngsters are smarter than we give them credit for.

  18. What a beautiful, happy child! I have to agree with #38; we do tend to assume children can’t make any decisions for themselves, and if stretched lobes are commonplace enough in Thailand that she won’t be socially stigmatized, I see no problem with it.

    I only wish mine were so big!

  19. I understand the cultural difference, what I don’t understand is the little girl who was tattooing her father wasn’t even receiving a modification, she was giving one… as far as I know there is no social stigma associated with a kid tattooing their father, so what was all the goddamn fuss about?

    Still boggles my mind.

  20. Sorry, I didn’t clarify. What i meant to say is, she looks cute with her mods, while the father’s tattoo looked like the scribbling of a child and wasn’t what most people would want on their own body. I’m just playing the “Devils Advocat”(sic) here, because I liked them both.

  21. I think it may be a case of a little girl seeing other people she admires and respects who may have lobes that are stretched this way, and she is merely following in their cultural footsteps in a country which embraces that as a tradition on some levels. We are only hung up on a little girl tattooing her father because we lack a context for that being symbolically meaningful, even though it obviously meant something for both people, whether your principals align with theirs or not. In the west, where we are generally taught to NOT mark ourselves permanently, its easy for adults to forget exactly how many cultures have childhood ritual and customs that leave long lasting and permanent markings, and that these children look forward to those events as powerful markings in their own lives.

    People from the bodymod community scare the crap out of everybody else because we are busy creating our own rituals and we all speak in codes of our own. We defy their expectations. Now can we start by defying our own?

  22. Awwwwwwwww this is so cute. I can’t imagine a kid that young having their ears stretched though.

  23. Hmmm.

    As a social scientist I believe there is a lot of information needed here before I can really make a decision as to whether I like this or not. Primarily the idea of consent pops up and has this child truly given their total consent to this being done to them or is this part of their local custom?

    Western societies tend to let our youth grow to post puberty before we let them make decisions on this kind of alteration which means that they can make an informed choice.

    I worry that despite my love of all things stretched this choice was not an option given to this child and that it was something imposed on them as tradition similar to female circumcision.

    It may look cute but is it right? Am not pro or con at the moment until I read more.

    Is there any other information on this Shannon?

  24. While I understand that this is a cultural issue I personally feel that it is unfair to inflict any modification upon a child, it is something she may well resent as she ages.

    I doubt that even if she was asked whether this was something she wanted or not, she has the understanding to answer honestly.

    For example, I know for a fact that if I were ask my seven year old son if he wanted a tattoo he would without a doubt say yes. Why? Because his father is tattooed and young children inevitably have the desire to imitate their parents. Does that mean that it would be informed and fair decision, no it wouldn’t.

  25. Honestly, i dont think its anyone’s place to judge what is right and what is wrong if the other person looks so happy about it.

    Obviously there is no one getting hurt, so there is no reason for you to call it wrong. why is it wrong? because its no how YOU were raised?

    alot of people dont understand that every individual on the planet is raised in different circumstances, with different experiences and that results in different cultures, and all the diversity we see in the world today. You have no right to judge a human being’s choices as “right” or “wrong” because those choices are a direct result of their experiences, which have very little or nothing to do with yours.

    To call someone’s choices “wrong” because they are different is just ignorant. I mean literally ignoing the obvious, these people are different than you. so what? they’re happy. and not hurting anyone.

  26. let me add on: her ears dont look like they are stretched beyond repair. so if she doesnt like it later on in life, it is changeable. the human body can change. that could even be the reason why they do it. they want to show that the body is a tool. a vessel, something that can be changed to fit your needs.

    their mindset about it could be waaaay different, and she might not ever even think of regretting it because she has been brought up to see her entire body in a different perspective.

  27. #50 #51

    You say it isn’t anybody’s place to judge whether it is wrong or right then claim “So what? they’re happy and not hurting anyone”. Essentially you are saying it is right and contradicting yourself.

    You also claim that these mods are “choices”, where is your evidence that this was a choice?

    If you study tribal markings and modification you will realise that the vast majority are not choices but obligations passed on from elders. When these “chocies” are rejected or questioned those doing so are often met with disgust.

    Don’t kid yourself into believing that all tribal cultures undertake modification because it is their wish, many do so specifically because they are told it is the ‘right’ thing to do. Choice is rarely an option.

  28. I’m not sure the big deal. It’s just her ears, nothing that is going to permanently affect her in any way. Traditions like this are part of what holds a culture together, it may not be what we would choose but I think as long as a tradition doesn’t involve altering anything important to function (like foot binding or female circumcision) that the benefit to cultural identity is worth it. Traditional cultures around the world are pressured by the modern world and many times it leads to a loss of cultural identity if the people don’t hold on tight to the things that bind their culture together like religion, language, dress, body modification if that’s part of it.

  29. #55

    I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but your comment totally disturbed me. Maybe I took it the wrong way. Maybe not.

  30. #55 is a friend of mine. he has a twisted sense of humor. i just linked him this post to show off a bit, thats the 2nd post here features pix i took. he was joking. u shouldnt be disturbed by his comment. cheers!

  31. i wish my parents would have done that for me at that age. Being in WV meth capitol of rednecks like I’am and sitting in elementary school. All the other kids have mullets and I have like 3/4 inch stretches. (thats what hers look like) That would have been awesome! AT one inch, I have the largest stretch in my area, everyone else is 00 gauge and smaller. America, breast implants and liposuction YAY! holes in the ears and tattoos, BOO!!! it’s sad

  32. i dont think it is right to stretch a little childs ears dont get me wrong tho my ears are 1/2 but i think the person getting his or her ear stretched should be old enough to know what he or she is in for and that after a certain point it is permanent

  33. my lobes are 15mm and my mum hates them
    i’d love to have been able to get away with this at her age

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