When Britney Spears got her belly button pierced in the ’00s, everyone followed (or at least wanted to). The same could be said for “Thong Song” singer Sisqo and his eyebrow piercing, Spice Girl’s Mel B and her tongue piercing, Rihanna’s septum piercing and, more recently, Kendall Jenner and her nipple piercing.
Times have changed, however, and much to the delight of mother’s everywhere, the only place people seem to be piercing these days is their ears. “In the past year, what used to be your typical piercing—like a nipple, nose, belly button—has completely died out,” says Ion Nicolae, owner of Blackline Studio tattoo and piercing shops in Toronto. “90% of the piercings we do are ears.”
Surprisingly, the trend is not celebrity driven, says Nicolae, even though a number of prominent celebs have adopted the look. Instead, it’s about the jewellery. The most requested piercings at Blackline are now constellation piercings, which are piercings spaced out across the ear and often adorned with delicate jewellery. (The result looks something like a constellation of stars in the sky.)
According to Nicolae, a constellation can range from three to more than ten piercings per ear and include piercings on the lobe, rook, tragus, daith, snug, helix and conch (to name a few). And if you don’t know what any of those are, just picture about every nook and cranny of your ear.
Multiple earlobe piercings stacked at different heights with jewellery in mixed metals are increasingly popular. “In the past, people just had surgical steel or titanium jewellery,” says Nicolae. “Today, mixing white, rose and yellow gold is very, very popular.” One of the most popular brands at Blackline is Maria Tash—a high-end jewellery line from the States. “We only sell the dainty jewellery,” says Nicolae. “The naval jewellery just sits there.”
He feels the trend will go on for the next three years or so, owing the longevity to how unique constellation piercings can be. Other types of piercings, which make up 10% of the overall piercings at Blackline, reflect individual preferences. “We still do belly buttons occasionally,” says Nicolae. During a recent visit to the store, I bumped into a man who was in to fix a dermal piercing—a ruby red stone that acted as the eye to a huge dragon tattoo—he had accidentally ripped out of the top of his arm.
Images by: Instagram (@kendalljenner, @badgalriri, @britneyspears)
Regrettably, I participated in some of the piercing trends of years past. I had my belly button pierced on my 16th birthday (the first day I didn’t need parental consent), only to take it out one year later. Nicolae says he had his tongue pierced and his ears stretched back when “it was the cool thing to do.”
The main difference with piercings now? People don’t want to fit in, they want to stand out.