A 2016 Mama With 1996 Ear Style

A 2016 Mama With 1996 Ears

By Amalah

Dear Amalah,

A 2016 Mama With 1996 Ear StyleNot a child related question, but I highly suspect you would be the perfect person to ask. Having come of age when this was trendy, have several ear piercings in my earlobes, three in my left, two in my right. I actually used to have four and three, but I let one close in each a few years ago. Those holes, which were very tiny, get filled with muck I have to squeeze out every so often. Pretty gross.

So my problem is that I feel like it no longer looks good to have all of these earrings in my ears. I wear small round silver posts in all of them most of the time. Sometimes I put other earrings in the first holes. I feel like keeping them makes me look like someone who was in high school in the 1990s. (Which I was!) However, what if this comes back in style? Then I’ll wish I still had them! And what about the dreaded tiny holes filled with muck!

Anyway. Should I keep the piercings, or let them close?

A 2016 momma with 1996 ears

Oh hey! We have the same earlobes! I too, was your typical product of the 1990s who regularly enjoyed jabbing holes in my ears. I believe I also topped out at four and three, but these days I really only have two holes (on each side) that I can actually get jewelry into. I had my original bottom piercing redone a few years ago because the holes were really, really low on the lobe and I could never shake my paranoia over how easily a grabby baby or toddler hand could rip them out.

At the time, the piercer looked at the top third holes and said he could probably work an earring in without needing to repierce if I wanted. I can’t even remember the last time I wore a third earring, but it had to be at least a decade, if not longer. So if you’re concerned about later regretting letting the holes close, take comfort in the fact that you can probably get them back without much trouble. (Note that this was a professional body piercer at a reputable tattoo parlor, NOT some random person with a punch gun at the mall. VERY IMPORTANT DISTINCTION.)  I declined, mostly because I’m already way too lazy to put earrings in at all and didn’t want the hassle of inserting yet another stud.

As for the gunk forming in the holes, this is usually just a simple hygiene issue. Holes take a LONG time to heal, so it’s normal for holes you’ve let “close up” to be prone to dead skin build-up as the scar tissue forms. (Like I said, my top holes still weren’t fully closed a damn decade after I abandoned them.) Massage your earlobes with a gentle, fragrance-free soap in the shower, and occasional swab them with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol, witch hazel, or saline. If it’s happening to holes you still wear earrings in, that’s typically just a sign you need to clean your earrings more often. Soak your earrings in a little rubbing alcohol every once in awhile. Note that if there’s any pain, bad odor/color or swelling, that’s a sign of a more serious irritation or infection. Your jewelry might contain a metal you’re allergic to (nickel, for example) or is the wrong gauge for the hole. (As someone who has pierced several other areas on her body over the past few years, believe me when I tell you that the proper gauge makes a huge difference no matter what body part you’re dealing with.) If you do decide to keep your piercings, you might want to visit a professional piercer for more advice, and possibly have them open the tinier holes up a bit more. (They can do it pretty painlessly with a taper.)

You do you, momma.

It’s funny, though: Just last night we attended an event at a local brewery in a super cool hipster-y neighborhood with a super cool hipster-y crowd and now that I think about it, there were a ton of women with multiple ear piercings there. And many of these women were at least a decade younger than us, so perhaps the multi-pierced look is coming back in style? (For the record I was wearing zero earrings, because lazy. I had a nose ring in but that doesn’t count because I so rarely change that one out.) I saw plenty of loaded-up lobes and cool cartilage piercings, as well as plenty of women like me who just couldn’t be bothered.

So I really don’t think you’re criminally unhip with your little rows of studs, but for real: All that matters is whether YOU like them and enjoy the look of them. You’ve had them long enough, so I don’t see anything wrong with you deciding that they’re just part of you now and that you want to keep them. OR with deciding that you’re ready for a change and want to ditch them. Just remove the worries about outsider judgment or age perception from the decision, you know? Because it’s super irrelevant.  Refuse to listen to anyone who makes sweeping judgments about what’s “appropriate” for women (or “moms”) our “age” when it comes to things like body piercings or hair color or clothing choices. You do you, momma. Pierce some stuff. Get some tattoos. Dye your hair purple, shave your head, bust out the Doc Martens or a miniskirt or a bikini or WHATEVER YOU WANT. Go grocery shopping in a Snuggie, for all anybody should care.

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About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Elle

    I HAVE THOSE EARS, TOO!!! I have been sporting multiple holes since high school, including a few more “exotic”ear piercings. I actually just made the decision to take out the cartilage piercings I’m rocking at the top of both of my ears because I am on the job market, and I’m interviewing for positions that would require a higher degree of professionalism that what I’ve been used to. Other than that, my ears are currently naked. The good news is, they will probably stay open.

    But I totally get the struggle. For me, it was a struggle between an identity I had owned for almost two decades, and then wondering, “what IS my identity when I wear these?” And I decided that I wasn’t the kind of person who would rigidly stick to the same style I rocked in high school. Am I selling out? Maybe. But I feel ok about putting this part of myself in my memory box.

  • kelly

    First off, Amy, thank you for a non-kids question. It’s like the old old Smackdown days! (I am an old old reader.)
    LW, I have a closed-up third ear hole, probably-closed second ear holes, entirely closed belly button and tongue piercings. And a bunch of not-going-anywhere tattoos. I heartily agree with Amy: you do you. Keep them if you still like them, let them close if you’re ready for that. The great advantage of having been high school in the 90s is that we are now old enough to not give a damn if someone thinks we’re Too Old For That. Those rules are entirely outdated.

  • Elaine

    Amy’s advice is right, keep them if you like them, don’t if you don’t want to! Rules for piercings, especially ear piercings, which are the most normal of all the piercings, are outdated. FWIW, I’m 28 (and part of the brewery crowd that Amy describes, though not hipster) and have three holes in each earlobe and am considering a cartilage piercing, and I also have a nose ring. I don’t consider any of them “trendy” and it’s never occurred to me to get or keep a piercing (or not) because it was trendy, and as the Self-Appointed Spokeperson of the Young People, I think people my age these days just do it because they like it, not because it’s in style (if anyone cares, though, the piercing that’s decidedly “in” these days is a small dainty septum ring. Everything else is pretty much not even on the radar in terms of Trendy or Not). I don’t ever hear people my age judging anyone else’s piercings, because it’s just another expression of your own personal style and people just don’t care. So yes, you do you!

  • Stephanie

    My 17 year old daughter has multiple piercings, in both ears, if that makes you feel better about it. Seems to be back in style with the kids. But, yeah, what Amy said. Keep them if you like them, and don’t worry about what anyone else says or thinks. (Says the pushing-fifty mom with a purple streak in her already naturally gray-streaked hair. Wink wink.)