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The Quad: Piercings provide means of bodily self-expression for Bruins

Piercer EdD Herrera smiles to the side. Herrera works to create a safe and enjoyable experience for all his clients. (Courtesy of EdD Herrera)

By Lex Wang

Sept. 3, 2022 11:08 p.m.

This post was updated Sept. 5 at 6:38 p.m.

From the ears to the tongue to the navel, Bruins are indulging in piercings as a method of bodily self-expression.

Some UCLA students said the process of choosing the right place to get pierced can be difficult and is often subjective to the individual.

Carlie Haug, a rising third-year sociology student, said the most important thing one can do when obtaining a piercing is to listen to their body, especially gut feelings.

“It can literally just be vibes. … That is a valid enough reason to not want to get a piercing,” Haug said. “You should feel so confident going in and so confident going out, and if that changes at any point, (it’s) absolutely not worth it.”

Although Haug said comfort is critical, alumnus Lauren Fabery added that it can be just as useful to perform some research – including taking a look at reviews, finding the shop on social media and sometimes even visiting it beforehand.

“Do your research,” Fabery said. “Don’t go to any random shop if you don’t want an infection. And maybe if you’re feeling hesitant or you’re getting a piercing for the first time, visit or talk to one of the piercing people beforehand to … ask questions if you’re nervous.”

Haug said price is always a factor, adding that it can even be a symbol of the shop’s caliber. She said when the costs are low, it may indicate lower quality or skill; on the other hand, highly expensive piercings may be a scam.

EdD Herrera, a body piercer at Prix Body Piercing and Tattoo in Pasadena, California, said in addition to making the procedure as enjoyable as possible for clients, he does his best to walk them through each step until a level of trust is built. Herrera added that piercers should be answering the questions their customers are asking.

Herrera said while a piercer must be knowledgeable in their field, ultimately, everyone should match with the right studio for their needs.

“Not everybody needs a Ferrari. You know, some people are quite happy with a Lexus, and that’s okay,” Herrera said. “You just don’t want the junker from the junkyard.”

(Courtesy of EdD Herrera)
Piercer EdD Herrera showcases his previous work. (Courtesy of EdD Herrera)

Karla Ramirez, a fourth-year anthropology and sociology student, said problems often arise when individuals choose carelessly, adding she had a bad experience changing a belly button piercing.

“I (wanted) to change it to this other piercing, and I tried undoing it, … and no one could take it off,” Ramirez said. “I actually ended up going to a professional … (who) told me that the person that did the piercing – they tightened it so that I would go back to them.”

Herrera said he remembers a time before there was much regulation in the body piercing industry. Now, Assembly Bill 300, also known as the Safe Body Art Act, monitors body art practitioners such as piercers and requires them to be registered in the state.

While obtaining a piercing is much safer than before, Herrera added that it is still vital for shops to provide proper information on quality aftercare to avoid an infection.

Fabery said after getting one of her ear piercings, she noticed some swelling on the back of her ear. Although she had received some instruction on cleaning, she questioned why it only happened with that piercer and decided not to go back there.

“I kind of got infected, so I wanted to make sure that (in the future) I went to a reliable place that was really good, more expensive,” Fabery said.

Despite the potential problems associated with piercings, Ramirez said to be part of this cultural phenomenon is to gain a life lesson.

“I feel like it’s a learning experience,” Ramirez said. “You’re going to learn from it.”

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Lex Wang | Assistant Opinion editor
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