health

Is piercing a baby's ears a crime?

Gisele Bundchen with daughter Vivian Lake

I got caught in the middle of an almighty row this afternoon. It was over Gisele Bundchen, of all things. More precisely Gisele's baby daughter's ears and a photo posted on Instagram that showed they were ... pierced.

It was on for young and old when I met some mums for coffee. One started saying how wrong it was, not realising the other had pierced her 18-month-old's ears. Not surprisingly, things got really heated really quickly.

I bit my tongue, but I have to admit I’m always taken aback when I see mothers pushing baby girls or toddlers in prams and they have their ears pierced. To me it looks a bit like a baby wearing tiny high-heels. Or lipstick. Or hair extensions.  And unlike high heels or lipstick, having a piercing hurts. It hurts a lot.

Toddler-piercing mum is Brazilian - like Gisele - and she said it's traditional in her country. Apparently most South American girl bubs leave the hospital with their ears already pierced.  She found it really weird giving birth in Australia and having to find a salon so it could be done.

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The other mum was totally horrified. She said doing something that causes a baby pain for superficial reasons was "just wrong."

And that's when things got ugly, because toddler-piercing mum turned and snapped: "You got your son circumcised. At least a piercing will close up if my daughter decides to take it out later in life. A circumcision is forever.”

Circumcision mum's eyes got all glittery - she'd obviously done a lot of research before getting her baby snipped. She started going on about how lots of studies show there’s a lower rate of transmission of STIs including HIV when a man is circumcised. And that uncircumcised boys had a higher risk of infections. She even mentioned a friend's son who ripped his foreskin during sex when he was 19 and had to have an adult circumcision, which is a far more major surgery than when you’re a baby.

"I would never ever EVER pierce my baby daughter’s ears," she said. "Circumcision is NOT the same thing.  I did it for health reasons. You're putting your baby through pain just to make her look a certain way. "

Meanwhile I sat there not saying much at all, but what I was THINKING was: "You are both freaking nuts. And nothing - not tradition or 'health reasons' is going to convince me otherwise."

But I didn't SAY it. Because I am terrified of confrontation. And it's just my opinion. And it's a free country (thank heavens). Also because I know they both adore their kids and want the best for them. Trying to make them feel bad because of something that's done and can't be undone ... what's the point in that?

So I made my excuses about having to pick something up from the fruit shop and left.

But it's been bugging me ever since.

The way I look at it, if boys didn't need foreskins, wouldn't evolution have discarded them by now? And I will never forget seeing my friend's ear after her earring was torn out during a netball game ... shudder.

What do you think? I would REALLY love your feedback.

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