I have always been intrigued by the social behaviors of humans. I love people watching. Sometimes it gets me wondering why people choose to express themselves in certain ways. The question today is, "Why do people stretch their ears?" The following is meant to refer to society as a whole. (I know there are many varied reasons why an individual may want to stretch their ears.)
History has shown us that ear stretching was initially used to show that an individual belonged to a group or a tribe. It was accepted by the group and they were marked as being "one of us". When someone did not have stretched ears they were considered to be an outsider or someone who did not belong to the tribe.
The Modern Day Ear Stretcher
Fast forward to the modern day practice of ear stretching and you will see quite the opposite. People seem to be trying to break out of the mold and express their individuality. Maybe they want to steer away from their current "Tribe" and join a new "Tribe" that better understands their beliefs and ideas. It seems that the individual is expressing who they are or want to become. The person who was once accepted as part of the tribe is now shown to be the "weird one" or "outcast."
20 - 30 years ago ear stretching seemed to be very different from what it is today. Body modifications like stretched ears were rarely seen (except in traditional tribes). In the Western culture they were mostly seen in groups like punks or goths. Nowadays it continues to be on the rise. Ear stretching is growing in popularity with both men and women and it does not seem to be confined to any one type of group. It is truly an artistic accessory to add to the look or style of each individual.
The point of no return
There is a point in stretching your ears that is known as the "point of no return." In a lot of cases, when the ear is stretched above 10mm (00 gauge), it is not able to properly heal and will never go back to what it was before. Below this "point of no return" seems to be what is more accepted these days. This was not the case in the 80's or 90's.
It seems that the higher the ear is stretched past the 10mm mark (00 gauge), the more one might receive judgmental looks or opinionated remarks. Comments like "That is disgusting.", "Can I stick my finger through your hole?", or "Didn't that hurt?" If you have stretched ears, these comments and questions are all too familiar. It's just the way our society is. Perhaps in another 10-20 years it will be a nonissue.
The New Tribe
No matter for what reasons people decide to stretch their ears, one thing is for sure. The art's popularity is growing. The New Modern Era Ear Stretching "Tribe" is growing. The tribe is expanding around the world and immensely diverse individuals are finding common ground through the art of ear stretching.
What's Your Story?
I am taking a survey to hear your story. Please comment below and tell me your story of why you stretch your ears.