Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Well Ring My Nipple!

Although the process of acquiring a nipple ring is reported to involve relatively little time, pain, or money, still one asks why anyone would want to subject her/himself to such a procedure. What is the meaning of the nipple ring?
Like everything else connected to the breast, the symbolic meaning of the nipple ring draws from both concious and unconcious motivations. Women with nipple rings speak of "marking a transition" in their lives or "creating a new sexual identity" or making their breasts "more exciting" or simply wanting to distinguish themselves from more conventional folk. Perhaps they also want to signal to prospective partners that they are not breeders or nurses, at least temporarily. Many observers, however, see the nipple ring (like the Victorian corset) less at the sign of a stage of life or an erotic adornment than as a form of bodily mutilation.
Body piercing-- of ears, nostrils, navels and nipples-- constitutes just one more attempt to improve upon nature. The long, worldwide history of pierced body parts has intriguing cultural variations... The products that find their way to female chests-- falsies and wired bras, creams and lotions, breast implants and nipple rings (why not rouge or tattoos?) keep the wheels of business rolling and feed the fantasies of countless women and men, for whom the breast merits all the enhancement and attention it can get.

- Marilyn Yalom
'A History of the Breast' (1998: 203-204)

Considering this in the light of my formerly pierced nipples and lactation endeavours is a little odd. What is even odder is that this book was only written ten years ago!

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