Skip to content

The Rise In Piercings’ Popularity Throughout Latin America

Once considered taboo, today's ‘body ornaments' are increasingly accepted.

Pandemic or not, piercings’ popularity is booming, especially among those in their 20s and younger.

Be it on the ears or face, piercings are gaining ground in Latin America, where specialized stores that provide that service are becoming more common. The fashion is intricately linked with tattoos, and for some, obtaining one represents an act of rebellion.

“I first pierced my ear when I was 17-years-old. Of course, my parents did not like that one bit as I was still a minor, but I have always had a rebellious soul,” said Rafael Sosa, 28, who is originally from Veracruz, Mexico. “At the time, I guess I desired to be more attractive and stand out among my friends.”

Nowadays, piercings are leaving the darker image they used to have and have become simply a way to stand out.

The popularity of this fashion accessory is on the rise, and each passing day it becomes more accepted by society in general. (Kaitie Barnes/Unsplash)

“It is a realization of the desire to feel different from others,” said Sosa. “That is why I went from just a piercing in my ear to another one in my nose. In total, I have five piercings, as I like how they all look. However, it must be a personal choice, so when my friends ask me if they should get one, I tell them to do whatever makes them happy.”

Currently, the most requested ones are those in the ears, nose, lips, and navel. In all cases, each type of piercing has its own name and meaning, though many are done simply for fashion.

“They ask me what piercing they should get or which type goes along with their personalities. It is exceedingly difficult as each person is different,” said Javier Díaz, a 45-year-old professional piercer in Mexico City who believes that a piercing is just a matter of aesthetic. “As I always say, a person comes in and then leaves with a piercing suited for them. However, they are still themselves, only with a new ornament.”

Piercings allow people stand out and choose an item that represents them. (David Fanuel/Unsplash)

Some say that piercings become addictive after a while. Diaz said that, in general, those who get their first piercing would soon come back for more. A famous example is the so-called “German Devil,” Rolf Buchholz, a 61-year-old man with 4,500 piercings.

“Many people say it is addictive as people feel that they need new piercings. Why? Because they enjoy doing that. It is something new, intimate, something personal, to change any area of your body,” said Díaz.

However, getting a piercing now can be riskier than before. Besides the usual potential problems, such as allergies or skin infections, it is also possible to contract COVID-19 if the shop does not follow the official sanitary regulations. However, to avoid the possibility of infection, the government of Mexico City banned the tattoo and piercings vendors from the local street markets known as “Tianguis.”

Díaz always recommends going to shops specializing in piercings to reduce the risks.

The materials must always be sterilized properly, such as the needles or each piercing. In addition, customers must be confident that the place is thoroughly cleaned according to all health policies and permits.

(Translated and edited by Mario Vázquez; edited by Matthew B. Hall)

Recommended from our partners