Body Piercing: Why is it so popular?

Imagine yourself sitting in a tattoo shop, nervously waiting for your turn to get a piercing done.

You’ve finally turned 18 and can get the piercing you’ve been waiting for without your parent’s permission.

Other people at school said this was the best shop to go to and reviews on the internet seemed to say the same.

You hear the sound of the tattoo needle, conversations between the artist and customer and get more nervous. After all, needles are not your favourite.

You get called up for your appointment and the piercer asks how old you are. Your initial reaction is to say 17, but you remember that your birthday has come and gone and you are now a legal adult. You sign the papers and head to the piercing area.

Less than ten minutes later you come out of the shop with heavier ears and a lighter wallet. You and your friend are smiling and excited to show off the new piercings at school.

Piercings have become such a large business and the majority of shops are seen to be safe and trustworthy.

According to Ink Spot owner, Shawn Carrier, the rules aren’t as relaxed as they once were. People either have to be of age, or get permission from their parents in order to get any piercing or tattoo.

In a Facebook poll, around 150 university students were surveyed on their piercing experiences and whether they were 18 or older when they got a piercing. There were 59 people who said they got piercings before and after they turned 18, with many having permission of adults for their ear lobes at young ages. Fifty-five people only have piercings from before they were 18, whereas a little under 10 people only got piercings after they turned 18. There were 27 who do not have any piercings.

The rising demand for piercings can be part of the consumeristic lifestyle which is important to capitalist society. Getting certain piercings seems to be encouraged by society in order to show a certain status


There are many reasons why people get piercings done and not all of them have to do with being trendy.

Tradition is a reason people get piercings within certain cultures. These piercings are traditional rites of passage for certain life stages or events.

“My mum and I got pierced together…which is when I got my cartilage done,” said Casey Beynon, a communications student at Carleton University. ”It was a really fun bonding experience.”

Another reason could be for aesthetics. Many people like the way piercings look and get them for personal reasons rather than a cultural or societal influence.

Many people get piercings for the look

Beynon has gotten many piercings done over the years, most of which she had done before she was 18, including lobes, navel, nose, cartilage, industrial, and daith piercings. Some she got on certain occasions, like a birthday, and others for certain reasons.

“I struggled with body positivity issues and severe acne a lot in high school, but one thing I always liked about my face was my nose, and I wanted to draw more attention to it, so I got it pierced,” Beynon said.

There also seems to be a popularity and glorification of body piercings when it comes to big influencers such as celebrities. Popular culture plays a major role in influencing trends, piercings being one of those.

Another, arguably less spoken of reason people decide to get their body pierced can be fetishes. Some people can have a more sexual look on piercings and often get them done for the purpose of pleasure. For example a nipple piercing is said to enhance stimulation according to professional piercers.

"I love how different and unique people style their earrings and it kind of became an identity for me” - Caeleigh Wannamaker

But not all of these are done for erotic reasons, some are just plain and simple fetishes or obsessions.

“I really enjoyed that you could mix and match with all these different style earrings. That’s when I became addicted … I love how different and unique people style their earrings and it kind of became an identity for me,” said Caeleigh Wannamaker.

Wannamaker is an anthropology student at Carleton University and so far has 17 piercings.

“I’ve also gotten a piercing with my friend when we went on a trip because it’s something we bond over,” she added.

Piercings can be seen by people as beautification or body modification. The difference all depends on personal opinions.


Michael Bilinsky is a head body piercer and senior manager at the popular tattoo, Adrenaline Vancity, in Vancouver. After seeing hundreds of customers a day, he knows what is trending.

“There’s always new stuff, whether its new jewelry, new tools … it’s always changing, so it’s super exciting" - Michael Bilinsky

“Last year and the year before it was septums (nose), [they] were so … popular. Right now it’s nipples, I’ll do 10-12 a day, it’s crazy,” Bilinsky said.

He said ages 18-24 is probably the majority of piercing customers, but he can get good amount of people ranging from 16 to around 35.

”I think the oldest person I pierced was in her seventies,” he said.

“There’s always new stuff, whether its new jewelry, new tools … it’s always changing, so it’s super exciting,” he added.

Piercings are becoming normalized with the growing demand

The piercing industry is ever-evolving to suit the needs of customers and new trends, but one thing is for sure, it is a growing industry as more people experiment with new styles and ways to pierce the body.


In these modern times, being careful with instruments and sterilizing tools can help prevent any infections with piercings. After all, they are open wounds.

People often look for the best reviewed shops because they do not want their piercing to become infected and have to deal with treating it.

Shops have to follow strict guidelines on sterilization if they want to stay in business according to Carrier at Ink Spot.

All these guidelines are set out in Health Canada, and if they are not followed, shops could be fined and even shut down.

Many parents want their babies to get piercings done at a very early age in order for them to heal easily without the baby wanting to touch them.

But it is not just up to the piercers to make sure tools are safe, it is also up to the customer to take care of their piercing with proper aftercare advised by the shop.

Bilinsky has had many run-ins with people not taking his instructions seriously and demanding a refund days after the piercing because they did not take proper care.

Piercings have become part of many individuals’ everyday lifestyle and are becoming more accepted by the general public as popularity increases.

Try checking out a local tattoo shop and find out more about piercings and the different kinds you can get. After so many years of the industry evolving, there seems to be piercings for almost everyone.

Created By
Tiffany Edwards

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.