They've risked employment opportunites, parental wrath and even brain damage.
They've suffered sharp pain that's lasted as long as several minutes.
They've braved endless questions from strangers, on everything from the cold weather to runny noses.
But they're not alone--not anymore, at least. Nosering wearers at Harvard say they're happy to have bits of precious metal stuck in their nostrils, and they say the trend is slowly catching on.
"There has certainly been a growth of them occurring on campus," says David R. Gammons '92, who has adorned his self-described "button nose" with a tiny crucifix. "It can be a real phenomenon."
Michelle D. Holdt '92, who like Gammons lives in Adams House, agrees that noserings have grown in popularity since she pierced her own nose three years ago.
"When I got here, lots and lots of people started getting noserings and then it was trendy and sort of annoying," Holdt said. "I feel like they've become much more common in the last year."
And further support for the idea of a nosering trend comes from a trendy popular musician.
According to Valerie Q. Nestor '92, also an Adams House VES concentrator, "Donnie Wahlberg of the New Kids on the Block has a nosering. He is my favorite person who has a nosering. Maybe he's copying me."
Noserings may be more popular these days, but that doesn't mean people aren't noticing them. Students with noserings say they are often asked to explain their facial jewelry.
Gammons, who has seven ear pierces, responds by saying he just ran out of room on his ears and wanted to find a new part. "I like decorations," he said. "Your nose, it seems kind of the logical next step."
Nestor, who also has seven ear pierces, explains that time considerations were a leading factor in her decision to pierce her nose last January. "If you can't do it in college, when can you do it?" she asked.
But others said they simply liked the visual appeal of a nosering, and decided it was worth trying.
"It was very random," says Marta K. Taylor '92, a chemistry concentrator from Lowell House. "I just like the way it looks."
And Holdt said simply, "I was looking for a way to make a visual impact."