Lagos – Awalk into the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camp in Agege, Lagos reveals the new craze amongst young women. Almost all the ladies we spoke with had multiple piercings on them. Some even had on their eyelids, noses and eyes.
Piercing the earlobes of infant baby girl is one of the oldest traditions passed down for generations.
The aim was simple, to differentiate the man from the woman. A female baby’s ear is usually pierced one day after delivery. This is usually done by a nurse and a stud earring is fixed to prevent the hole from closing.
This single piercing in both earlobes becomes a life time part of the girl until she matures to an age where she decides that one piercing is not enough.
Body piercings include, multiple ear piercing, tongue piercing, nose, lips, eyes and navel piercings.
There are other hidden parts of the body that people pierce. It may sound bizarre but it is real. Some pierce their nipples, in very rare cases, p*nis and scr*tums.
The simple reason for the piercings is to wear rings in it.
Speaking with the Nigerian ‘grandmaster of piercings’, Charles Oputa, popularly known as Charly Boy or ‘Area Fada’, he says he has piercings in awkward places on his body.
“I have piercings in most awkward places. I have piercing on my p*nis, I have piercing on my balls and navel.”
When we asked if it was painful he responds, “While they are piercing it, it is painful but after a while, it becomes painless.”
Confirming if the piercings are still there, Charly Boy told Independent on Saturday that piercing his body is an art to him. “It is an acquired art form, like tattoos. My body like you know, is my canvas,” he said.
Charly Boy has always been an advocate of free expression of personality and has maintained it for years.
The most common piercings asides from the ones on the ears are for nose rings, tongue and lips.
Multiple ear piercing is most common among women than men, because everything is seen from a personal style perspective, it is hardly frowned at.
Nose piercing is another one that is as old as the testaments in the Bible like earlobe piercing.
Many conservatives have wondered how safe and moral getting an extra piercing on the ear and nose are.
People who love and indulge in piercings have backed up the act by cultural believe if foreign countries and religion. While some have picked them up from Bible scriptures.
There are some Bible verses that support wearing nose ring for women. In the book of Genesis, Rebecca, Issac’s new bride received nose ring as part of her marriage gifts.
In Ezekiel 16, God describes the affection He had showered upon Israel in terms of a man showering his bride with gifts: “I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head”
These reveals that nose rings were in fashion during that era and they represented wealth and status when given as gifts. They were also considered female accessories.
In this part of the world, Nigeria, no matter your fame and fortune, a boy wearing earrings is always perceived as an outlaw. But some still do, just like Area Fada.
Nose rings have symbolic meaning in Indian, African and some Muslim cultures, are gaining popularity in other areas of the world as well.
In India a stud called Phul or a ring known as nath is usually worn in the left nose. Piercings, including nose piercings in India are one way Hindus honor Parvathi, the goddess of marriage.
It is also the culture of Fulani tribe in Nigeria to wear nose ring and multiple ear piercing.
Nose ring is one of the body piercing that girls are crazy about.
In fact, in the United States and Africa, Nigeria to be precise, nose piercing may be seen as an act of rebellion against conservative values.
Victoria Odukoya told Saturday independent how her nose ring and multiple ear piercings filled with rings deprived her of a job.
“I was just out of secondary school and all my teenage hormones were raging for fashion. I pierced extra holes in my ear and nose. And when I heard of a job interview, I thought it was the best time to show off how pretty I look in my ornaments. I was told by the woman in charge that I did very well in the interview but she couldn’t trust my personality because of my appearance.
“She advised me not to wear rings in all the piercings when going for a job interview. I felt very embarrassed and hurt that I lost a job that would have fetched me a good pocket money,” she said.
Though Miss Odukoya accept that nose ring sends the wrong impression, she admitted that her experience with the job interview has not changed her obsession with piercing.
“I just love body piercings. It’s an obsession to me. The only part of my body that I cannot dare to pierce is my virgina,” she said.
Generally, people get piercings on different parts of their body for different reasons.
The multiple piercings on the ear like many girls and women have is viewed as normal as every other fashion ethic. Others who pierce their nose, eyebrow region, lip or tongue may do so just to look fancier and not necessarily to appear wild or weird.
Every human being always have a personality hidden inside. Some choose piercings to express who they are and the personal sense of style that appeals to them.
Speaking with professor of psychology, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT, Dr Regina Eya, we asked if there is any pathological explanation on why people get extra piercings. She stated that for now she can only say it is copying what is in vogue.
“I don’t think it’s a complex problem on the part of the person. One ear piercing cannot get attention but double piercings will get people’s attention. When I see a girl with double piercings I may start wondering if the person is from Fulani tribe or the religion the girl belongs to.
“Attention is what most young people seek. They want to look different. This can serve as a topic for a class I am about to teach in few minutes. I too would love to know why young people do these things,” she said.
Some follow this trend just to fit in with their peers.
A Corp member serving in Lagos state said she had her double ear piercing when she was in boarding school in the North.
“I wanted another piercing because my mates were doing it. They dared us who were just watching that we could not endure the pain and we were faint hearted, so I showed them am brave. I later started loving the fact I have two piercings.”
There are a few people who go for double piercing because their initial piercing given to them at birth have cut through due to the use of heavy earrings.
Selome Tonia, a journalist told Saturday that she is going to get a second piercing because the first hole has cut through and cannot wear her expensive earrings because of it.
A visit to the popular Ikeja under bridge will convince you that there are young people who have made a career out of body piercing.
The beauty creation personnel who are mostly young boys hang around the corner looking for new customers.
Their business pick up line is “fine girl do you want pink lips, permanent eye brows or extra piercings on your ear or nose?”
One of the boys who did not want his name mentioned said he pierced one of his ear because he fancied it.
“I pierce for other people, so piercing mine is like am advert for customers who want it.”
Almost all the young men who do piercings and pink lips as means of livelihood, have piercings on their nose and both ears.
They were glad to show the equipment used in piercing through the skin and cartilage.
Jude, one of the piercers vowed that the piercing gun is always sterilized before and after using it on a customer.
The boys were not certain that piercing makes a lucrative business because they do it together with every other beauty trend like giving permanent pink lips and eyebrows.
A student who gave her name as Kemisola, said her three piercings were done by her with a tiny needle. “I don’t trust the hygiene of the piercing gun in beauty parlors. Moreover, why should I pay money for something I can do by myself.
A few people have had bad experiences with getting extra piercings. There are cases where the pierced area gets infected and develops abscess. Some blame the armature beauty personnel for not doing a good job, others believe their skin may have been too sensitive for such.
The weirdest reason we got for reasons why people have multiple piercing is from, Justina, a dealer in jewelry. According to her, some people including herself have multiple gold jewelry all over their body. “It is for safe keeping of my money. The amount of gold I have on me now runs into millions of Naira. All the ones on my ear are gold. I have one on my navel, and that is gold as well. When I am broke, I can easily sell one of my rings for quick cash.”