Purchase Trend Alert: Ear Gauges

February 12th, 2010  |  Published in Culture, Fashion


By Kristen Buckley

I have noticed a rather interesting trend on campus: ear gauging, or stretching, as it is more correctly known. Ear piercings are the most commonly stretched, as can be seen at Purchase. I swear, I’ve never seen so many stretched out earlobes in one place. So I decided to try and get into this phenomenon and unravel the mystique of ear stretchers. To investigate this remarkable fashion I talked to my good friend Tamren Estevez.

When did you begin your ear gauge?
I started gauging my ears at the end of 9th grade.

How long did it take for your ear lobes to stretch out?
I was impatient and didn’t do it the way I was supposed to. You’re supposed to have these tapers that stretch your ears, and you can’t stretch more than two sizes at a time. A general ear piercing is about 18/16 gauge. My friend gauged my ears in her bathroom and I went straight to a 4 g. After that I stretched moderately. I recently stretched to an inch. I say it’s taken about 4 years to get where I’m at. But that’s because I’ve stayed at certain sizes for a long time. I don’t like the pain. It’s very hard to deal with.

Why did you start your ear gauge?
I don’t really know why I gauged my ears. I never really enjoyed regular earrings. I started watching a lot of tattoo and taboo documentaries and the idea of stretching my ears really turned me on. Not to mention that it’s been done for thousands of years. Perhaps I wanted to be closer to the primitivity of humanity. It’s always intrigued me.

What do you want to say about ear gauges?
All I can say about ear gauging is that it’s painful. And you shouldn’t do it if you are an indecisive person. People always tell me I’m going to regret having them one day. But so far, I haven’t. I really like them. And I know that won’t change. I made the decision of having them knowing that I was not going to go back. It’s not that big of a deal anyway.

Why do you think people stretch their ears?
I’ve heard a lot of reasons why people do it. Some people really like them, some people aren’t happy with the way their ears look, and want to try it. Some people are in it for the pain. Some people do it because it looks cool and it’s a big part of this hardcore music scene. I don’t judge though.

Any advice for anyone who wanted to get started?
As far as advice goes, don’t do what I did. One of my ears is blown out because I stretched too fast. It should be done carefully and as sanitarily as possible. You’re ripping your earlobes open. It’s painful. It’s annoying. But I think the end result is worth it.

Why is the end result worth it?
Well for me, the end result was that I was finally satisfied with my ears. I might go bigger, but I’m putting it off because I don’t have a lot of lobe left. I get to wear all types of earrings now. There’s such a variety of what I can put on. I have long hair and not necessarily everyone sees them unless I tell them or unless they see them through my hair. It’s not an attention thing. It’s funny when people are so amazed by them and they want to stick their fingers through the open space. I did it for me. I knew people who had them, but I did it because I wanted them.

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