Noses and Nipples With Holes

No Part is Too Private as More Students Pierce Their Bodies

Evelyn J. Kim '95 realized during reading period that exam anxiety was making her a "basket-case," but she didn't want to resort to the stress-reducing methods many students use--drinking and smoking.

Instead, she got her nose pierced. "I'd wanted to do it for a while, but people said it hurts like a bitch," says Kim, a Lowell House resident.

In fact, the nose pierce didn't hurt Kim at all, aside from a little soreness for the first 24 hours. And even blowing her nose and sneezing don't pose problems, she says.

Men with pierced ears may have shocked many people not so long ago, but now it takes a nose, eyebrow, tongue, navel, nipple, or even genitalia pierce to be considered radical.

Body-piercing is becoming increasingly popular at Harvard and around the country, according to several students who have recently acquired holes in exotic places.

Joel L. Derfner '95, who got his left nipple pierced a little more than a year ago, says that in New York and San Francisco a whole culture has developed around body piercing. For instance, he says, the location of your pierces tells others which positions you prefer during sex.

Derfner does not identify himself with this culture and enjoys his nipple pierce for a different reason. He says he likes the "cognitive dissonance" of his preppy attire coupled with his nipple ring. He also thinks the nipple ring is "cute."

For Derfner, though, there is a drawback to the jewelry: "Now, every time I go through an airport metal detector, I get really scared," he says.

Derfner got his nipple pierce at Innovations in Leather, in Boston's South End. But an employee interviewed this week says the store currently does not offer body piercing.

Would-be body piercers who have heard that the Cambridge store Hubba Hubba offers body piercing will also be disappointed: the store no longer employs Joe J, a piercer who has served the needs of many Harvard students.

J, who now has an independent business in Brighton called Rites of Passage, could not be reached for comment.

Chloe Zubieta '95, who got her navel pierced by J shortly before Christmas break, is pleased with her decision, which she says was not an attempt to be rebellious or radical.

"It's a personal thing" says Zubieta, a Chemistry concentrator in Winthrop House.

Zubieta's boyfriend, Keller Norris '94, boasts two nipple pierces and even plans to have his scrotum pierced.

Norris, a Winthrop House resident who concentrates in History, likes his pierces because of their aesthetic appeal.

"[The jewelry] serves to highlight the nipples and it looks good," he says.

Norris says the pain caused by the piercing was "minor." But Mark J. Millman '89-'94, who got his nipples piercedtwo years ago, says the pain made him sympathizewith women whose nipples hurt when theymenstruate.

The piercing, however, hurt less than slamminga finger in a car door, Millman says, and besides,the pain was worth it.

Millman decided to get his nipples piercedwhile doing fieldwork for a Folklore and mythologyclass. After interviewing a body-piercer andseveral recipients of body pierces for hisproject, he wanted to experience "the inside ofthe group."

Since most people with nipple pierces wearhoops, says Millman, nipples are pierced with alarge needle attached to a hoop. After thepiercing, the hoop is pinched and closed.

Millman says some people get body pierces tomake a statement, but that wasn't hismotivation--especially since he chose to pierceparts of his body that are normally unexposed.

Norris says he and Zubieta also purposely choseto get pierces in usually clothed parts of theirbodies.

"It's for our own personal knowledge," he says."It's not like an eyebrow or tongue [pierce.]"

According to an employee of Boston's TheJewelry Store, which does nose and ear piercing,infections can arise if body pierces are notproperly cared for an cleaned. But none of thestudents interviewed said their pierces have ledto health problem