Teen Body Modification: Elf Ears, Piercings, Biting and Ear Gauges

Recently I have been seeing all kinds of body modification amongst teens. Here are some of the top trends explained:

1. Elf Ears

I began to see Elf Ears after the first Lord of the Rings, but only recently began to hear about it as a practice with teens. When we asked teenagers about this trend a few somewhat ridiculous reasons were given:

  • Could be better for listening to music
  • A way of extreme piercing
  • Makes the face look more attractive

2. Non-Ear Piercings

Depending on what area of the country you are in, body piercings can be very popular. The most popular spots for teens:

  • Belly button
  • Nose
  • Eyebrow
  • Lip

Less popular, but still cool areas to pierce are nipples, genitals and chin.

3. Transdermal Implants

A transdermal implantation is when an object is placed below the dermis or skin, but still exits the skin at one or more points.

4. Biting

I have written about teen biting before. It is a way to show connection between two people, a homage to Twilight and other vampire movies and another form of self-harm.

5. Ear Gauges

Ear gauges are used to stretch out the skin on an ear lobe. These are quite popular in the music industry and many teenagers in urban areas have taken to wear small gauges in their ears. This is especially popular amongst males.

6. Tattoos

Tattoos have been around for a long time and are any kind of permanent ink dyed onto the skin.

So the big question is why are teens modifying their body in these ways? I think for many teens it is a form of self-expression and art. For others, they modify their body to test their independence and limits with freedom of expression. While others modify their bodies as a statement against society, parents and the ‘norm.’ Many teenagers I have spoken with get piercings or tattoos or the more extreme types of self-modification do it to stand out and wear what they believe distinguishes them as different. I believe anyone should express themselves however they want, but worry that teenagers who permanently modify their body will regret the decision later. The above physical ornaments can also greatly affect their ability to get jobs, apply to college and converse with other adults when they reach adulthood.

*Picture Source: http://www.sodahead.com/fun/elf-ears-cool-or-creepy/question-1254375/?page=4

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  • Valerie

    My 14 year old son has guages. I believe that he chose this look for not one, but all of the reasons that you listed. We agreed to a size that could eventually close up completely, after consulting with a professional piercer. In general, I care less about piercing than other forms of body mod. Piercings close – tattoos are for life. That said, when my boy turns 18 his body is his to do with as he pleases, so if a tattoo is in order then – so be it. I’ll advise him on how to select a great artist and choose art that you can live with for the rest of your life.

  • http://www.cafemom.com/group/112254 Valerie

    My 14 year old son has guages. I believe that he chose this look not for one reason, but really all of the reasons that you’ve listed. We comprimised and settled on a size that would eventually close up, after consulting with a professional piercer. I’m not that freaked out by any body mods that can be reversed, so piercings are just not that big of a deal (in the grand scheme of things). At least in L.A. where we live, all of the piercings that you’ve listed are rather passe. We’re seeing more cheeks and chins, etc. So when he turns 18, and his body becomes completely his own, if he chooses to tattoo then, I’ll be standing by him to help him select the best possible artist, and art that he can live with for the rest of his life.

    As for the elf ears – ugh, that is so absolutlely ridiculous.

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  • Chelsea

    The elf ears blows me away. It’s just so bizarre. I know a parent whose teenage son was arrested for biting his girlfriend. She wanted him to do it, but it got infected, she had to go to the doctor, and when she explained how it happened to her parents, they had the boyfriend arrested.

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  • http://WebsiteURL AlizaG

    I’m a mom who has a bellybutton piercing as well as a nose piercing and 3 small tattoos. I have allowed my 15 year old daughter to have ear gauges and will let her have a 2nd ear piercing when she is 16. Once she is 18 she can do as she likes, but we have already discussed how piercings can limit your job choices and how what is cool now may not be cool later on.