Like mother, like daughter

A while back I posted a photo from Geshem of a cute little girl in Thailand with stretched ears (and her brother who’d drawn on his face) and there was some discussion about cultural context and so on. Anyway, I thought it might be nice to put the photo into a family context as well.

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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.

35 thoughts on “Like mother, like daughter

  1. Speaking of which, there is a comment right at the bottom of the little girls with stretched ears page which really disturbs me, I was wondering if you’d seen it Shannon, cos I know you’re not at all cool with that kind of thing.

  2. Did the mother pierce her stretched lobe (like the actual stretched part got thick enough to have its own piercing)? The little girl is adorable by the way. I wish I lived in a society where stretched lobes were valued and appreciated.

  3. I wonder about the double standards in the modding community sometimes. There’s a poll on the BME main page at this moment asking whether or not parents should pierce the ears of their babies. About 2/3 of the responders have said “no”. I’m no expert at etsimating the ages of children, but the girl in this photograph looks pretty young. And the process of stretching her ears had to have started some time ago, since the ears look nice and are at a pretty large size (again, I’m not an expert).

    Are this girl’s mods more accepted because we see this as being some part of a distant indigenous culture, therefore in some ways more “right” than Western parents who wish to pierce the ears of their children? If so, then why the cultural snobbery? Piercing the ears of baby girls is a pretty common tradition so I’m not sure why this picture gets lots of positive feedback, then a poll about piercing Western children gets negative feedback.

    Maybe I’m not understanding the objections to piercing a baby’s ears. I imagine it could be that A) It was not the child’s choice, so is unethical or B) The health risks. If ethics are the problem, then we should be holding this mother to the same standard, right? I seriously doubt that little girl had any choice in the ear piercing or stretching matter. If it is due to health risks, then fine. Though I know many of us had our ears pierced as a baby and have had absolutely no problems.

    Perhaps someone can shed some light on this.

    (But wonderful picture. That little boy is adorable.)

  4. It’s NOT right to pierce a baby’s earlobes. (In my opinion)
    I will pierce the earlobes of a child if THEY can ask me for it and understand I’m going to be putting a needle through their lobe. Sometimes that means they’re 8, sometimes that means they’re 3.

    People would be so outraged to know a mother pierced the ears of her baby. American or Thai.
    A lot of people would be so outraged to know a mother was raising her children in a mud hut in the African wastelands…
    The difference is that most “western” families understand the risks and ethical strains involved in a procedure like lobe piercing and circumcision.
    Chances are, this Thai family only knows their cultural tradition where coming of age, or whatever is piercing the child’s ears or scarring their body, etc.
    They don’t hop in their Ford Windstar and hit up ballet classes to show all the other little girls how “girlie” and like all the other little girls their daughter is.

  5. Thanks to Shannon and Lexci for their replies to my comment.

    If, for example, a family living in the US (allowing they have been exposed to other cultures and understand risks/other ethical points of view on the matter) is from a non-Western cultural background where it is the norm to pierce the ears of a baby, do you believe that they are looked upon less harshly for practicing this? Should their involvement in a society that has conflicting views about this sort of practice restrict them from doing this?

    If so, then I have no further comments on the matter.

    If not, then I don’t feel we have the right to pass judgment on ANY reasons behind a parent wanting to pierce their child’s ears. It is totally within the rights–and should be–for a piercer to deny performing any procedure on a child so young, but the stigma toward parents who have this done seems undeserved. Aesthetics, to some, are at the very heart of body modification. And as we know, beauty is often dictated by our surrounding culture. The reasoning behind the Thai mother’s choice and the US mother’s choice might be slightly different, but in the end reflect their culture’s views on what is acceptable modification. And in the end, neither child ever had a choice in the matter.

  6. I’m not going to go into questioning the morality of this, but I think its adoreable and the culture factor is really interesting.

    I’m taking community college classes, anthro/socio/psych/hist and the classes all sort of overlap conceptually (sp?) Well, I was thinking about this and then look at this posting and I thought about how AMAZING it would be to study these sort of practices for a living. Gosh that would be so cool – but I’ve no idea how you get started in such a profession.

  7. my mom had my ears pierced when i was 9 months old. now that i’m 22 and tattooed (they don’t like my tattoos very much) it’s a good come back when they ask why i have to have tattoos. they don’t really have an answer when i ask why they had to pierce my ears…

  8. both myself and my little sister had our ears pierced at 6 months, it’s traditional in my mom’s family that little girls have they’re ears pierced before they even leave the hospital.

    That being said, we weren’t allowed to get any other piercings until we could tell our dad (the stricter of the two) how to properly take car of them

  9. If the comment at the end of the other page is a joke, it’s not a good one. Shannon, I know you don’t believe in removing horrible/insulting posts from Modblog, but could you reconsider? It’s not like a lot of people on the “most commented on” entries will understand intelligent comebacks etc!
    I don’t have an IAM page at the moment, but I wouldn’t mind not being able to comment here till I do. I just think that trolls/anonymous morons have enough places to congregate on t’internet.
    Sorry if this has been discussed before :)
    Piercing babies’ ears, no, but there’s nothing wrong with asking a 3-year-old whether it wants it done. Giving little children inessential decisions is good for them. :)

  10. Em – starting to wonder if one of us is the sock-puppet of the other, but I feel the same way.

  11. Our standards and cultural symbols are extremely different to those of people living in societies such as the hill tribes of Thailand. The stretching of an ear lobe in the west is very different to the stretching of one in the east.

    Both the context and significance have to be understood before any judgement can take place.

  12. For them, girls who were born on wednesdays stretch their lobes.

    And my mother refuses to tell me why is it that girls who were born on wednesdays stretch their lobes. And i’m also not sure if they were given a choice or not.

  13. its really odd, i usually feel a bit iffy about seeing younger children with piercings but the little girls stretched lobes just compliment her so much and look so pretty

  14. I want to adopt that little girl. She’s so cute. ^__^

    To the people being culturally stupid: It’s like the tradition here of girls getting their ears pierced when they are little. So what, she has big lobes? They are considered beautiful there (and by me, so :p). Better than her being anorexic and wearing a thong (like kids here do…ew, I hate that *sooo* much).

  15. it looks to me that the girls lobes have been stretched to about 10 or a little bigger but no bigger than 14, you have to remember that she has a small head so they obviously look a lot biger in relation. of course it is all tradition, i recently did a trek in a similar hill tribe in thailand, i dont remember seeing any young girls with this but i know one woman LOVED the fact i had 14mm tunnels in, the same size as hers!

  16. I think it’s pretty hilarious to see people freaking out about piercing kid’s ears when they don’t even question removing entire chunks of their son’s genitalia.

  17. People have said they do not care if its tradition, it’s still wrong.

    SO what is worse a little girls stretched lobes, which many of us know, when done right with time and patience stretching is not painful or traumatic!


    Forcing (I see it as forcing because it’s not the childs decision. That is being made for them.) a infant to have his genital skin cut from him!

    Lets not forget Muay Thai that allows 4yr olds to beat the hell out of each other!

    I don’t know perhaps I’m weird.
    I think the “tradition” of skin being torn from your genitals is a million times worse than then “tradition” of stretching lobes!
    I think people are overreacting.

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