American in Spain

Cultural Baby Mutilation

April 9, 2009
Panda Earring Box

Nora, the culture you have been born into has certain unfortunate traditions that place unfair expectations on its ovary-enabled citizens. These practices, such as leg waxing and high-heeled shoes, will cause you much pain and suffering, but your ancient tribal instinct will place such a high value on fitting in with your peers that you will inevitably perform these practices regularly. In Spain, they start early – lucky you! – so we have already mutilated your body without your consent to conform with society's expectations. In Spain, infant girls have their ears pierced. The pros include easy face-based gender recognition of babies and the inability to remember the trauma of ear piercing. The con, of course, is that someone else is making a decision about your body for aesthetic reasons, which goes against my moral values. At least we're not tattooing "Daddy's Little Girl" or "eπi + 1 = 0" on your forehead or something. I rationalize the situation by telling myself that it will probably never even occur to you that there was ever an option to have unpierced ears.

The piercing typically happens at the hospital at only a few days old, but we didn't have any earrings purchased or gifted yet, so we waited until your first visit to the doctor at the end of your first week. The pediatric nurse asked if we had brought earrings with us, we said we had, and she offered to "install" them for us. Having never pierced anything nor seen anything pierced, I was under the impression that there would be a special sterilized instrument similar to the single hole punch with the blue plastic compartment that I carried around in my school backpack for so many years. But no, she took out an earring and went right for your lobes. You were rather nonplussed and your mother had to look away. While you were writhing in agony, the nurse pushed those little babies right on in. Amidst the intense screaming I actually heard the *POP* as they went through. Strangely there was no blood to speak of and no swelling afterwards.

When we got home, your mother, a trained ISO9000 auditor, began inspecting the nurse's handiwork. The earrings were not at all symmetrical, one was closer to your face than the other, and one of them pointed out sideways instead of to the front. So we made the decision to remove them, let the wounds heal, and mutilate you again later! Aren't you a lucky girl!

Panda Earring Box

This panda looks harmless enough...but when you open him up...


These were given to you by our friend, Marina, who sells jewelry.

Earring Close-Up

They're pretty gorgeous. Unfortunately the pediatrician said that you can't wear any earrings that remotely dangle at all until the piercing wounds heal completely, so you can't wear these yet.

Nora's Pierced Ears - Take One

Luckily we had these, given to you by cousin Mariangeles, to brutally impale you with.

Nora's Pierced Ears - Take One

This is the one that was facing off to the side.

Hopefully "the third time's the charm" does not apply to piercings.