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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 19 January, 2019

So, here's everything I learned when I got a nipple piercing back in the day

Happy National Piercing Day, y’all.

SO, IT’S WEDNESDAY May 16th today.


If you don’t keep up with obscure national holidays originating from across the pond, this date probably means nothing, and will likely just remind you that a direct debit is about to exit your account, thereby putting the kibosh on plans for midweek pinting.

If, however, you’re always keen to celebrate the more arbitrary holidays other countries conjure up, then Happy National Piercing Day!

thanks i guess

So, today is used to promote piercings and celebrate those who choose to decorate their bodies with all manner of ornamentation.

This particular holiday has a special place in my heart – well, in the two days since I’ve learned of its existence, that is – because I was once a card-carrying member of the pierced nipple community.

Yep; the things you’d rather not know about other people is a long and extensive one.

When I was 19, I decided to bite the bullet, hop aboard the table and get myself a piercing.

I can’t say it was because I especially liked the look of a metal bar pushed through an areola, but I did like the idea of fulfilling a teenage desire, and frankly, few other locations on the body were appealing to me.

In the end, it all came down to a process of elimination. I thought navel jewellery was too 90s, a tongue piercing too daunting and an eyebrow piercing too Sisqo.

If I recall correctly, I did next to no research on it because back in 2006, we were still on dial-up internet, my Motorola Razr – while only gorgeous – wasn’t for Google browsing and any time I spent online was updating my Bebo skin.

Priorities, you know?

I was willfully ignorant, and only delighted with myself because… well… 19.


So, as most women will attest, not all breasts are born equal… even if they’re located on the same chest.

And so the only real consideration I gave the process was which side I should choose; ultimately opting for the smaller breast so it didn’t think I was giving its bigger sister all the attention.

No seriously.

And here is everything I learned in the 12 months I had a piercing.

1. I needed alcohol to steady my nerves in the immediate aftermath.

While I didn’t find the act in itself too traumatic – except for that moment when I sat up too soon and saw blood sluicing from my chest and I questioned why I was allowed to make my own decisions – I did find the aftermath a little more surreal.

Feeling vaguely drunk as I left the parlour, I decided to make the sensation a reality, and two double vodkas was all that was needed to do so.

Sitting in a dark, dingy Dublin pub on a warm Saturday afternoon with a friend who had accompanied me but decided mixing metal and nipples wasn’t for her, I felt vaguely idiotic.

2. You will – every so often – get a phantom sensation that your nipple is bleeding.

You know when you feel your phone buzz in your pocket, and you’re stunned to find it actually hasn’t?

I experienced something similar multiple times in the year I had my piercing when I was absolutely certain I was haemorrhaging.

Obviously, I wasn’t.

3. You will catch your piercing on the shower curtain.

And loose threads, and lacy bras and threadbare towels.

And it will hurt. And you will rue the day you were born.

4. You do not have to declare your piercing to airport security.

I learned this the hard way when an acquaintance, who also had a concealed piercing, told me that I would need to do so to avoid setting off the beepers.

Like the eejit I am, I sidled up to security upon my first trip to Dublin Airport after getting pierced, and muttered that I had, you know, a… ahem… piercing.

“Good for you, love. Can you rejoin the queue?”

5. Absolutely nobody cares about your piercing as much as you do.

Whether it was a spur-of-the-moment decision or the result of months of research, once you finally do it, you WILL want to talk about it.

After a few drinks, I’d have anyone and everyone by the scruff of the neck, slurring nonsense about the hilarity of the whole nipple piercing excursion while they discreetly tried to extricate themselves from my grip.

And that’s when you learn people couldn’t care less about your piercing.

In much the same way your mind glazes over when anyone describes last night’s dream in too much detail, people really don’t care you have a piercing and unless there’s a dramatic back story, they’d rather you stopped banging on, and let go off their sleeve.

In the end, I realised that I liked the idea of the piercing more than I liked the actual aesthetic, so I removed it before the shower curtain could do it for me.

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About the author:

Niamh McClelland

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