Casual sex, freak, deviant, homosexual, low wage employee, whore, head (oral sex), pain, swelling and the infamous line: “I-couldn’t-eat-for-a-week”, are just some of the typical connotations attached to tongue piercings. So when 11-year-old (she is still not a teenager yet) Willow Smith, daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, uploaded a picture of her mouth open, revealing a ball on her tongue, it was assumed she had got her tongue pierced.
Strong minded. Rebel. Wild child. Willow.
Obviously I love it, but clearly the controversy was unprecedented on her part.
The disapproval from members of the public centred mainly on her age and an flurry of blame was directed at her parents for allowing her to commit such a travesty *mock gasp*. Let us be Frank (no Ocean), no one wants to think their little girl is out there giving BJs and if tongue piercings go hand in hand with fellatio/cunnilingus, it is no surprise people were shocked when they saw the picture.
Willow later stated it was not a real piercing and apologised after receiving heavy criticism on Instagram and Twitter.
When I saw the picture, I told myself, unless Will and Jada’s parenting is impacting negatively on their children, it’s their business what they do in their family.
Ear piercings are one of the oldest known forms of body modification, from Biblical days to William Shakespeare. In the late 60s, the piercing began to appear amongst gay men. I remember growing up and being told that men who pierce their right (or was it left?) ear were gay. During the late 80s/early 90s more men challenged this notion of sexual orientation and masculinity, with celebrities supposed heterosexual men like Mr T getting both his ears pierced.
Nowadays, seeing a guy with his ear pierced is a normal thing, yet I can’t help but wonder how many of these people know about know about the association the piercing had with homosexuality. I then wonder if all the tongue piercing needs are another 10 years for everyone to grow up and get over its lewd image.
I actually understand that Willow’s fan base is important and public opinion matters a lot nowadays, that aside, should the girl have felt like she needed to apologise for putting a magnet on her tongue? Behave.
It’s interesting how one can have as many piercings as you want in your ear, but your tongue is forbidden unless you are intending to give oral sex. Remember, if this picture was real and the piercing actually existed, the piercer would have had to ask Willow for the presence or written consent of at least one of her parents or legal guardians, as she is under 18 and trying to get something other than her ear pierced.
It’s interesting how people perceive body modifications. A girl can get her ears pierced mere weeks after she is born to enhance her aesthetically pleasing features or in an attempt to fulfil socially constructed norms, i.e. girls have pierced ears. On the flip side, a boy can get his willy semi castrated (commonly known as circumcision) under the banner of religion and cleanliness.
Put simply everything is relative and subjective.
I get that people were not approving of the piercing due to Willow’s age. In the western world we see children as fragile and in need of protection. Sexy is not something we attribute to an 11 year old and Willow needs to be aware that the day when people no longer have an issue with that is definitely not here yet. Children get babied in our society, whereas in other parts of the world, girls are married by their 16 birthday, children as young as 7 can work a whole day for few pence to make the shoes me and you spend pounds on pounds to buy. I’ve seen parents give their children a good spanking and other parents telling their kids that they wouldn’t be able to stay up as a result of being naughty. Both were punishments their parent regards as just and fair.
Put simply everything is relative and subjective.
Age is a concept which differs from culture to culture. In several countries across the world, Willow would be expected to be able to look after younger siblings, attend school, cook meals, sell food in a market and possibly be preparing for an imminent marriage. As a wife she would be regarded as a woman and such a choice as a piercing would be between her and her spouse. Let’s go even deeper, there are cultures that practice tribal marking (scarification), elongating the neck through, making the feet appear small through binding of the feet, piercing/stretching of the ears, lips and many other practices western civilisation may not necessarily approve of. There is no wrong or right with such things, there is just reality.
Sometimes people need to sort out their lives before trying to sort out other people’s lives. People may think they have the right to question the parenting methods of others but what you frown on may be someone’s reality.
I honestly think it was all fun and games for Willow and she just never expected the backlash she’d receive from ‘holier than thou’ individuals who will always have something to say. How many girls have played grown up, running around in parents or siblings rooms, prancing around with elaborate jewellery, thick makeup, 6 inch heels, and wigs that would turn any black girl purple with envy? Touché, touché, I play, just like you played ‘dress up’ when you were younger.
I regularly talk to girls who say they secretly want to get their tongues pierced, but never would because they’re scared of pain (they’ve usually been told that it’s really painful and you can’t eat for days *rolls eyes for like 10 minutes before kisses teeth loudly*), they have jobs that will not accommodate such a piercing, or they’re aware of the demeaning connotations attached to the piercing and refuse to be subjected to the taboo associated with the work, no matter how much they love it.
I am not hopelessly naïve.
Yes, I agree there are people who will get their tongue pierced because of all the attributes linked to it: the sex appeal, the potentially increased pleasure one can give during oral sex, the idea of being rebellious etc, but to paint everyone with the same brush would be a foolish.
To assume only makes an ass out of u and me (‘u’ and ‘u’ in this instance).
I believe that parents are the ones to careful guide their children through life. I love that Willow’s parents allow her to shave and dye her hair as well as get piercings. I believe when necessary they will offer correction and reign in her freedom. Children mature differently however until such a time as she is 18 her parents call the shots and they are wholly responsible for her.
Still love her though.