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February 28, 2013
The Real Issue
Earring Policy
by Cyndie Swindlehurst


My husband took our four-year-old daughter to get her ears pierced for her birthday. She looks adorable, and I didn’t think anything of it.

But apparently, lots of Mormons in this town have strong opinions on when a girl should get her ears pierced, because I have been hearing a lot about it at church. Most of the comments are along the lines of: “In our family, our daughters have to be in Young Women before we allow them to pierce their ears.” It’s pretty irritating, especially when they say it in front of my daughter.

How should I handle these comments?


You should completely ignore the implied criticism of these remarks.

Instead, act as if the person has merely shared a mildly interesting piece of information.

“Oh,” or, “How interesting,” you should respond in a blandly pleasant voice.

Your demeanor should convey that you think it is perfectly normal for a four-year-old to have her ears pierced, and that you are completely comfortable with your choice. If your daughter is within ear shot, take a moment to beam at her. Smile pleasantly at whoever made the comment.

I know what you are thinking: But they are judging me! Criticizing me! They are making my daughter feel like she doesn’t fit in with the other girls! They are implying that their family standards are higher than ours!

Perhaps they are. And if they are being deliberately nasty, the only thing to do is ignore their rudeness. It is not right to return rudeness with more rudeness, so simply say, “Excuse me,” and walk away. Nothing you do or say will sway the opinion of a nasty person, so it is best to act unperturbed no matter how irritated you are.

But please consider another possible reason for these comments. It appears that in your community—you don’t happen to be new there?—it is unusual for girls under age twelve to have pierced ears. Because it is unusual, a four-year-old’s pierced ears will attract attention. So it is possible that the critical comments are mostly expressions of surprise, albeit rude ones.

These surprised people should keep their opinions to themselves. As a rule, it is not polite to comment on a person’s appearance unless you are saying something thoroughly complimentary. So unless they want to say, “Goodness! How darling Daisy looks with her new earrings! What a little lady!” they should not say anything at all.

And chasing the compliment with, “Of course, in our house that would never be allowed—our girls have to be at least fourteen!” is not acceptable.

Note: Useful comments about a person’s appearance are allowed if the problem can be immediately fixed, such as, “Your slip is showing,” or “There is lipstick on your tooth.”

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