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Why the modern man or woman stretches their ears

Why the modern man or woman stretches their ears

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.

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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 your ears 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 for ears), 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 for ears), 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.

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I began stretching my ears purely because I liked the appearance. Strerched ears seemed to be associated with the people and artists that I liked and I felt it would make a statement about myself.

As my ears slowly grew I found that it was more than just appearance that I enjoyed.
The act of stretching, the slow care and struggle that came with size increases, these all became almost ritualistic in a way. When questions about when I would stop stretching came along, my motto became I’ll know when I know.

The ability to control my appearance in way the not only expressed myself but in a way that was so devise was enthralling! Admittedly this angsty rush was a bit immature. Childish or not it was self fulfilling and it helped create a self body image that I truly appreciated for once.

The increase in size (7/10 inch currently) certainly came with the questions that you stated above. The size came with its own benefits though. In a strange way these stretched ears became a kind of dowsing rod for the type of people I would want to associate with!

My experiences really show merit to your statements about tribes. Although in modern metropolitan living we like to think we are beyond our more instinctual, savage ways. The truth is in many ways our outward appearance still make many statements about the “tribes” we are associated with.


I started stretching my ears back in 2011, right after graduating high school. As quickly as my lobes would allow it, it got up to a half inch. I kept them at that size for about 2 years, then decided to go up another half inch. Ive been at 1 inch for about 5 years now and its a good thing I love my stretched lobes because there’s no way these will ever be able to get much smaller from shrinkage.


I started stretching my ears at the age of 16, in 2012. For a few years prior, I saw people with plugs and thought they looked very cool and liked how different they were from regular earrings. I am also allergic to most metals and was tired of earrings causes infections. So the main reason I decided to get plugs was to stop using any type of metal and now I have no issues with the stone plugs I use. I stretched to 2g.


I had gotten my ears pierced at 18ga and kept them “hidden” while still serving my country. I was always a country kid growing up, but got introduced to different people and different lifestyles and musical preferences while in the service. The military, quite literally, is the greatest melting pot, in my opinion. After serving my country, I just started working my way up to 5/8”. I’ve taken them out for a while, and worked them back up, several times throughout the years. But, I feel that it makes you a unique individual to represent yourself with gauged ears, tattoos, etc. Guaged ears, and tattoos, are becoming more and more acceptable in the workplace, though there are still “old timers” that scoff at the idea of tattoos and piercings. Also, the availability of nice, presentable jewelry for workplaces makes a much bigger difference than 10-20 years ago.


I started stretching back in 1999. Went from a wire gauge to a 18g. Had a dream that I could see through my ear. That was the seed.
Later in life I learned about symmetry and the perception of beauty; noticing the size difference between the upper and lower halves of my ears, I figured it would be aesthetically more pleasing to me. 5/8" and no regrets.


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