How Do High Schoolers Use Tattoos and Piercings to Express Themselves?

Tattoo shops are a common place for many high schoolers to get piercings. Piercings are a key form of expression among all people.(Photo courtesy of Lyric Chassin)

Many high school students use piercings as a semi-permanent way to express themselves. Ear, nose, and many other piercings are one of the many ways students use accessories to express themselves. 

Getting piercings can be a painful experience for many and it also happens at different stages of life for many people. “The first time [I got my ears pierced] was when I was a little kid, and the second piercing was two years ago,” said Olivia Mcguire, a junior at Leesville. “I also got my nose pierced last week.”

Allison Dood, a junior at Leesville, has her double ear piercings as well. “I got the first ones when I was about ten and then the second one was about a couple years ago,” she said. 

For many people, piercings are a painful experience. The aftermath of a piercing can be bleeding and soreness. For others, it’s a quick and easy procedure. “I was expecting my nose piercing to hurt, but it actually wasn’t too bad,” Mcguire said.

“It actually didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would, so it was actually really nice,” said Dood. More often than not, getting piercings at an older age hurts less.

Despite the potentially painful process, many people choose to get piercings to express themselves in a way unique to themselves. Different earrings can decorate everyone and emphasize features.

Self-expression is a way for people to showcase who they are—their beliefs, style, thoughts, etc.—through their outward actions. This can be done through fashion, art, music, and so much more.

Teenagers have many different reasons for getting piercings. Jordana Kellman, a junior at Leesville, sees piercings as a defining moment for many. “I think [piercings] can be important for people who can’t express themselves in other ways,” Kellman said.

“It’s a choice that you can make and everyone can do something different with it and make it their own,” said Dood.

“I guess it’s a personal decision if you want to express yourself through [piercings],” Mcguire said.

As teenagers get older, tattoos become another common method of self-expression. In North Carolina, you have to be at least 18 years old to legally and safely get a tattoo on your own–any other age you should be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Until they reach that point, tattoos are just a thought for high schoolers.

“I haven’t thought too much about what I want yet, but I definitely want some,” Mcguire said.

For Kellman, she already has a plan of what her first tattoo will be. “I want a little tattoo of my dogs on my ankle because I’m a really sentimental person and I love my dogs so much, so I would love always being reminded of them,” she said.

Piercings and tattoos are a popular form of expression among many. Today, piercings and tattoos are a personal decision that can mean a lot of many people.


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