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Reader's Digest Version

I got my navel pierced in February of 2005. I had turned 18 a month before, and the boyfriend at the time decided he wanted his ear pierced. He chose a shop that I've never really been comfortable in; my mother married into the family who owns the shop, and when you're related to them and they can't remember your name, that doesn't exactly put me at ease.

I did everything wrong. I was easily 50 lbs overweight when I walked into the shop that afternoon, and to disguise it as best I could, when I held my shirt up to expose my belly button, I pushed my stomach in with my hands. The guy who pierced me didn't tell me not to touch my stomach so that the piercing would lay the way it should. He wasn't particularly friendly and I don't recall him telling me a thing about aftercare. So he marked me, I laid down on the table, and he pierced me.

That was probably the most painful piercing I've ever received. I've since had my labia, nipples, and cartilage pierced, and I still think my navel was the worst.

I went home and read the aftercare sheet my piercer gave to the boyfriend. Okay, sea salt soaks. That went okay at first, until I woke up the morning after I was pierced and discovered that my navel had swollen up and "swallowed" the top ball on my barbell. I didn't know what had happened, because the area was red, but not obviously puffy. Because I had such a negative body image, I tried to hide the swelling. The top ball collected moisture beneath, leading to my skin softening. This soon became an open sore which opened around the ball and became crusty at the edges. It pussed and oozed and wept at night when I slept. When I put shot glasses of sea salt water over it, I could watch the puss and lymph ooze out of the piercing into the water.

After suffering for literally weeks with a hellish infection, brought on by the swelling and my messing with the piercing because it was irritated and thereby irritating it more, it subsided enough that I thought I would change the barbell. When I changed them, I discovered that the original bar was much, much too short. I had problems with the piercing pretty constantly, until a different boyfriend, easily six months after I had the piercing, told me to switch to a captive bead ring to relieve the pressure of the ball sitting at the top of my piercing. I had also lost about 30-40 lbs, so I was much more comfortable with myself, much more willing to spend time examining my physique.

I have horrible scarring. The top of it is bright pink, and the scar tissue is thick and cordy. The piercing is crooked, and sets back too far in my navel. When I place my hands on my stomach the way I did the day I had it pierced, its straight and looks perfect.

I had my navel pierced that day because I thought it would improve my self esteem. I thought that finally, I could sign my own paperwork, 50 lbs overweight or not, and not have to hear my mother tell me she wouldn't let me get it done because I was too fat. I figured I could feel pretty fat and all. And for the first 20 minutes, I did. But I was ignorant. I went into a shop were I wasn't comfortable, where my gut feeling said, "get out, Kat, get out while you still can." I picked out my own jewelry without doing the research and without any help from my piercer, and because of my ignorance, the jewelry I chose was of poor quality and contributed to all the suffering I endured. Because I was unhappy with myself to begin with, I ignored the infection, the same way I ignored the infections in my relationship with the boyfriend at the time.

The moral of the story is that you cannot feel pretty inside simply by doing things to your outside. You need to know why you don't feel pretty inside, you need to follow those little gut feelings that you know are right, you need to do your own research so you know what's good for you, and more importantly, what is not good for you. And you are still pretty, fat and all.

I did improve my self esteem. It took time, and effort, and I still have fat days when I am not pretty on the inside, though I may be painted up on the outside. I still have my crooked navel piercing, and I am contemplating removing it, maybe long enough to heal to redo it, or maybe for good. But I learned that its my body: its my temple, my amusement park, my prison, my haven, anything I want it to be, because it is mine, and no one can take it away.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 06 June 2007
in Navel Piercing

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Studio: New+Element
Location: Pueblo%2C+CO

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