After I posted yesterday about wanting more piercings, I realized that like everything else, piercing has been a real journey in my life.
Growing up, my parents were more strict Christians. Many things in the Bible they interpreted literally, including the way women should dress and be. As such, my mom never wore make-up or jewelry of any kind and only wore skirts so we, the girl children did the same. That meant no nail polish or necklaces or earrings. That's why we never had our ears pierced. and even though my mom's ears were pierced, she did not wear earrings. Really, these things led to me feeling more different than I already was (as a first generation Nigerian-American). I really felt deprived and couldn't wait to do all the things forbidden to me.
I was still living at home when I got my first piercings at 18. I went through great lengths to keep it a secret. When they finally found out and blew up about it, I breathed a sigh of relief. It gave me permission to keep going. As they've gotten older, though, my parents have relaxed a bit in their views and my mom will wear jewelry and makeup in moderation. She still only wears skirts. And they are still not cool with the fact that my baby brother has both his ears pierced. And I'm pretty sure they'd freak out if they knew my sister has a tattoo and my I am planning on more piercings.
I couldn't help but notice the irony that my spiritual journey took me into a trodition (tradition) where for a woman, there was a standard about how she should look. In RastafarI, women generally keep their heads covered outside the gates (home) and especially at Nyabinghi Ises (worship service). They wear long skirts or dresses and most avoid wearing pants or will wear pants underneath a skirt (which is what I would do during the winter months). Most sistren also avoid makeup and are minimalistic on the jewelry or won't wear jewelry at all. The point is to be beautiful just the way the Creator made you, to avoid vanity and to focus on the things in life that really matter such as living purely and righteously. There is also an emphasis on avoiding unnatural things that can be found in most makeup (including animal product and chemicals). Of course, since RastafarI is a way of life and not a written-in-stone religion, there's lots of variation amongst Rasta people about the rules and the way they are interpreted.
In the Nyabinghi Guidelines (which I couldn't find online), it clearly states that piercing ears is unacceptable and goes against the will of Jah. Since the house I trodded with was Nyabinghi, this was a source of conflict for me since my piercings are so important to me. I really love them. I tried for a while to go without earrings but it felt . . . wrong. Like I was forcing myself into a box. Still I worried what ones and ones who noticed my earrings would think and say. I sometimes covered my ears with my headwrap. Finally, I just let it go. If someone thought I wasn't true in my trod because I had my tragus pierced, whose problem was that? Certainly not mine.
I remember going back to Nigeria for my grandfather's funeral a few years ago. Everyone up until then had been kind of horrified that I had so many piercings (some in strange locations). My grandmother just kind of looked at them and looked at me and kept it moving. Didn't even phase her. I thought that was telling: how easily she was able to discern what is really important.
So at this point, I'm quite comfortable with my piercings. Every so often I read somebody's blog or an article about how more natural, in-tune, spiritual people shouldn't pierce (or tattoo for that matter.). But I remind myself that it's my body and that it feels good to me--I like this way of decorating my temple-- and that the Creator is within in me too . . . so if I'm in tune and listening, I'll know what I should stay away from and what I should embrace, thank you very much.
Photo Credit: "god bless me;" by m o d e on Flickr.com