Putting a Ring on It


Septum piercings, decoded.

“Do you ever get snot on that?” my little brother, to my mother’s dismay, asked a woman with a septum piercing at the supermarket.  She smiled sweetly, ignoring his question.

It was a valid, albeit socially inappropriate, question.  Not having a septum piercing myself, I had always wondered about them—I guess it runs in the family.

Is it hard to blow your nose? Do people judge you if you have one? Does it hurt to get it done? It wasn’t until one of my close friends decided to get one that I learned the answers to these hard-hitting questions.

For those of you who were as clueless and straightedge as me, I am sharing my conversation with her about piercings and tattoos, but especially septum piercings.  After entrusting you with this knowledge, I can only hope that you don’t take a page out of my brother’s book!

Q: How many tattoos and piercings do you have?

A: I have seven piercings and one tattoo.  My ears were pierced in 4th grade. I got my last piercing in July, and my tattoo in November of 2012.

Q: Why did you decide to get those particular body modifications?

A: My ears were first pierced because my parents probably decided it for me because I’m a girl (#gendernorms). The second one I got with my grandma as a bonding thing.  My dad was pissed though.  I got the cartilage piercings next because I thought those look cool.  One closed up, but I guess that makes it look edgier. I got my nipple done because it’s hot as shit. I got my septum piercing because I thought it was edgy.

Q: Why get a septum piercing over a stud in your nostril?

A: I did my septum instead of my nostril because I didn’t want the scar.  Also, the unique factor.

Q: What are peoples’ reactions to your piercings, especially the one in your septum?

A: [Pierced] ears are normal, so nobody really makes comments about them. My dad is the only one who has said anything negative about [the additional piercings in] my ears. I’ve gotten mixed reviews about my septum, but a lot of guys say they really like it at bars. People always point it out when I meet them for the first time. That being said, I know that some people are mentioning it for the talking point and not because they actually like it. I know not everybody likes [septum piercings].

Q: Do you feel you have ever been discriminated against because you have a septum piercing?

A: No, I don’t think I have, but I’ve been very aware of it and don’t wear my piercings when I think I might be discriminated against.  For example, I don’t wear [my septum piercing] when I go to class or when I’m trying to impress anyone professionally. If I know I’m going to be trying to earn someone’s respect, either educationally or professionally. As a blonde girl, I already have that going against me, so I don’t need to add to that. People definitely look at me more when I have my septum piercing in.  I just don’t want to have to deal with that conversation, and don’t want professors to think less of me or bring it up. I just avoid that situation in general. It’s a piercing not everyone likes- my parents hate it. I feel like more people our age actually like it—or maybe they’re just being nice, I don’t know.

Q: Have you always wanted to get a septum piercing?

A:  I always thought it was ugly when I was younger because I thought it looked like a bullring. Growing up, nobody had them except the emo kids smoking outside the mall, and they had the ugly, chunky silver nose rings with the ball on it. You can get really pretty pieces that make it look more artful than gothic.

Q: You knew it was coming…is it hard to blow your nose?

A: Yes, having it in really does make it hard to blow your nose!  That’s one of the downsides. It also falls out when I sleep or if I’m making out with someone.

Q: Did it hurt?

A: Actually, no! It was my easiest piercing and didn’t hurt at all.

Q: Do you have any regrets about it?

A: No regrets at all! To be honest, there’s not much to say about it; it’s just a hole in my nose!

Caroline Gentile ’17 (cgentile@college.harvard.edu) was so excited to finally have all of her burning questions about septum piercings answered!