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My big fat Greek 00g lobes!

I suppose that my story begins in Athens, Greece in the mid-90's. I was about eight years old and desperately wanted to get my ears pierced. I'm a first-generation American, so trips to Greece were commonplace for me growing up as my parents own property over there... My dad (an islander) strongly opposed me getting my ear lobes pierced while my mom (a villager) had been begging him for me for a few years. In my very traditional Greek family, the patriarchy won out every time so all attempts were in vain for years. During one visit, I asked my Yiayia (my dad's mother) and off we were a few days later to get my ears pierced in the traditional Greek manner of always respecting the elders wishes. I remember being very excited for that entire summer and wanting to try out every earring I would see. My lobes were pierced at 14g.

14g-12g.

Fast forward a few years later to around mid-1999. I was a rebellious ten or eleven year old tomboy in my 6th grade year in middle school in Bethlehem PA. I had a few older friends who had stretched before me, one of which was suspended for a week for stretching to 8g. That didn't stop me because I really liked the beauty I saw in stretching. Looking back at that now, nearly a decade later... Just wow! 8g was completely unacceptable in 1999... But now, I often volunteer with the music program at that same school and I see kids who have stretched much larger than 8g. The administrators seem not to mind anymore...

I had gone with a few friends to Q-Mart, which is kind of like a flea market of sorts and a popular LGBT hangout a few towns over in Quakertown, PA, and that is where my stretching 'adventure' began. I bought my first pair of cute little CBRs. When we got home to my best friend's house, I just pushed them through. Completely unsafe... And my lobes bled a little for a few hours. I do not recommend that method to ANYONE. I wish I had Internet access back then and that BMEzine was as it is now because I doubt I would have been that naive. But then again, who knows? It is not safe for the obvious reasons, such as infection.

12g-10g-8g.

Between 2000 and 2001, I stretched twice. I remember the thrill of having larger piercings than most in my music ensembles and that is most what drove me to it. It was also for the shock value, which I enjoyed very much. Both times, I stretched using tapers I had gotten from a friend who had stretched his lobes before me. That is also an unsafe practice. I know now that sharing anything that comes in contact with any body fluid is not safe. Thankfully, nothing happened to me due to that, but DO NOT share anything that could have possibly come in contact with body fluids such as blood. It is possible to transmit infections and such from this practice and it's better to be safe. I cannot stress that enough.

I stayed at 10g for a few months before going bigger to 8g. Still in middle school, the administrators were not very pleased when they noticed a few days after I stretched. By that point, I was also known as being pretty successful in music and swimming and that is what saved me from the suspension fate of my friend a year earlier. If it were not for that, I would have probably been suspended for a week in violation of the dress code.

I didn't have any problems with the actual stretching, that I remember, because using a taper helped very much and made it easier... The new jewelry went right through and with very little hassle, but getting in the pool for swim practice the night after I went to 8g was not very pleasant since the pool chemicals really made the fresh piercing burn. Swimming has made aftercare more difficult that necessary for me over the years and I admit to not making sure to clean my piercings on a consistent basis that first year or so. If you're going to stretch anything and compete in swimming, I cannot stress enough the importance of cleaning your piercings. "Ear cheese" is not very pleasant for you or anyone in close proximity of you and the pool chemicals can add to that problem if you do not make sure to clean consistently, especially after practice.

At that point, despite my initial and slightly unpleasant experience in the pool, I knew I wanted to go bigger and even had hopes of 00g. I was also in a rush to go bigger as well because I enjoyed the shock value very much.

8g-6g.

Going down to 6g was when I really had to start 'scheduling' when I would stretch because of my new-found love of the LHS Grenadier Band, an ensemble which is known for being the only high school band in the world to have ever performed in London, England's famous (and acoustically perfect!) Royal Albert Hall. Being in band meant I could not wear jewelry of ANY kind in uniform, which would often be a few times a week and for at least two hours each time. I couldn't wear anything while competing in swimming either because it's against the rules of both leagues I was swimming in. Having to, nearly every day, take out and replace pretty newly-stretched jewelry made it very difficult and my ear lobes would bleed once in a while due to slightly shrinking every time I would remove the jewelry. I made the mistake of not being as patient as I am now and would just push the jewelry back right in. That could have led to tearing or blow outs, but I was lucky. Still, my advice is if you have to take out anything before it's healed, take precaution before putting it back in.

I stretched the August prior to my freshman year of high school in 2001 anyways. I guess it's because I've always been the kind to do things on impulse and I had gotten slightly bored of the 8g jewelry. I REALLY wanted to get to 00g and fast. I used a taper again and the acrylic plugs I used while my ears were healing were downright perfect. Swimming, again, caused some burning the first night. I made sure to clean every morning and every night after practice because the 80 year old pool was not necessarily the best of sanitary conditions. (it cracked and closed down a year later) I stayed at 6g for a few months and almost decided not to go any bigger because I started considering teaching as early as 2002 and knew that as a teacher, it would not be very acceptable to have larger ear lobes.

6g-4g.

I stretched to 4g a few months later anyways, swearing it would be the biggest I would go. I don't remember much about that stretch because I was a mess at that point and chose not to remember those few months for personal reasons. I do remember that it was late in my freshman year, probably around April or May of 2002. I don't remember if I stretched safely or not either or what I did until the piercings healed.

4g-2g.

I stretched to 2g almost immediately after 4g, a month or so later, because I knew I wouldn't get a chance if I waited another month due to my growing number of commitments at school and those I was starting to pick up in the community. I did use a taper that time and made sure to clean the piercings after swimming. This stretch was the first time I really ran into a little trouble. My fears about not having time to heal? Completely justified. We (the band) were invited to a lovely political event in the State capitol. I had worn CBR's the morning the band headed to be the honored band in Harrisburg for Ed Rendell's Inaguration as the (then) new Governor of PA. Of course, I had to remove my jewelry upon arrival and changing into my bright red British military-style uniform and black bearskin hat. Over twelve hours of freezing cold later (although the bagpipers had it much worse), I could not fit the jewelry in. So I made the mistake of forcing them in yet again, which caused the piercings to bleed for a few minutes. Thankfully, they didn't get infected, but the pool water made them burn for the next two days. OUCH. But, I think the chemicals in the pool were, oddly enough, what prevented me from ever getting any infections. I made sure to clean them out more than the twice a day after practices because I thought I would have to go back to 4g after a few days of my lobes burning. Thankfully, I got lucky again.

Another thing on my mind was teaching, so I was trying to pace myself and not go as big as I had wanted because I had be told that it would no longer be an option if I went any bigger.

2g-0g.

I still did. But it was, by far, my worst stretch. I had stayed at 2g for quite some time... Over a year. It was not until August of 2004 that I stretched to 0g. I was starting to get bored of the 2's and thought it'd be nice to pursue 00g again because by then, it was becoming more acceptable to have larger piercings. I knew quite a few folks who had gone bigger with their lobes, labrets and tongues by then. Despite that I had a friend a few years older who was a professional piercer stretch them for me, it was my dumbest moment in recent years because band was starting up again.

I somehow managed to beg my director to let me keep clear plugs in the first month or so of that season on the grounds that my bearskin hat covered them and my very long hair would remain down while wearing a beret. I just did not want to go through the same thing as the year before with jewelry not fitting after a performance.

The worst of it came around that December. I was swimming a meet and 'forgot' to take out the plugs I was wearing because they had gotten a bit tight from not really allowing them to heal by putting them in and removing them nearly every other day for a few hours for band. An official decided to give me my only disqualification of my career on the grounds that I was wearing jewelry and that is against meet rules. It was also my best 100 Butterfly time by over four seconds, which is quite a large drop in time in swimming. Thankfully, I had two new coaches that season with my assistant coach being a very verbal man who refused to allow for what he considered absurd disqualifications. The disqualification was overturned and my new coach was nearly taken out by the Men in Blue, the local police, for the first time that year (there were at least three more) for being too verbal with officials. He also had defended a teammate of mine who was wearing a retainer in a tongue piercing as well as a male swimmer from our rival team for having a newly-stretched labret that the officials did not approve of.

I stayed at 0g until earlier this week. Nearly three years later. I didn't have any major problems staying at 0g except for a few cases of "ear cheese" stuff early on that were brought on my not allowing the piercings time to heal before having to briefly remove the jewelry for a few hours.

They were in so long, that I could remove jewelry for a few days and the piercings would still be very loose and a bit bigger than the jewelry (with o-rings on). My biggest problem was that I simply got bored of the 0g's and decided to think about reaching my goal of 10mm again, which I had abandoned during the audition process for colleges since my fear of not being able to enter a program came back. The jewelry would also fall out sometimes (with o-rings on!) while I would be in the pool or taking a shower until I just decided to start taking it out so I would not lose it any more.

0g-00g... FINALLY.

After much debate, I finally made it to 00g. It was also my safest stretch because of what I have learned over the years. I am now a 19 year old sophomore music education major in college, only two or three years away from becoming a teacher. It has become so acceptable to have larger piercings in the school of music, that my 0g ear lobes were actually smaller than those of many other students in some of my classes, including those who are currently student teaching. I even know a few people with 00g ear lobes who graduated last May and are currently employed as teachers.

Work has not been a problem at 0g. I am employed as a lifeguard at two different facilities (summer and winter) and my bosses don't really notice or care very much. Some of the children do and they are intrigued, which really makes me smile.

I have been on winter break for nearly a month now and decided that it would be the perfect time to stretch. No marching band until August and I will remain on the injured list for swimming indefinetly with an injured leg. No worries about having to remove and replace jewelry and risk a tear or blow out.

My right lobe was already stretched out after three years at 0g, so I did not use a taper. The new jewelry just slid right in with no problem at all. It is a little tight, but very comfortable. I used a taper for the left lobe, and with the help of a friend about three years older than I who is employed as a professional piercer, I stretched my left lobe to 00g as well. My left ear has always been smaller than my right ear, as has my lobe... So I was afraid of tearing or a blow out when the jewelry refused to go in at first. Thankfully, it only stung a bit for a few hours or so the first day... And yesterday, it bled for a few minutes. I've made sure to be safer than ever as well and insist on cleaning at least three times a day for at least until both piercings heal. That makes me sleep better knowing I am taking good care of my new-old holes. :-)

My right ear won't need much healing at all, if any. But my left is going to take a while. I'm thinking at least a month, but I've learned to be patient - I need to be as a future music educator. If my professors did not really care much for the 0g's, I know they probably won't even notice the increase of 2mm. My bandsmates and boss did not notice anything but the different color. I've never worn any green jewelry in the past and decided to put in a pair of lime green plugs until both lobes are healed.

Only time will tell how well and fast my left lobe heals, but I'm optimistic about it.

As for my very Greek family? My dad, although very angry at first, has become use to my stretched ear lobes. He did not even notice this newest increase in size, but that is probably because I was at 0g for so long that it just looks the same at first glance. My mom got use to it fast and even bought me a pair of 0g's a few years ago for my Name Day in September. As for the rest of my big, huge, Greek family? My dad's side has all but disowned me because they are that conservative. I was also initially kicked out of the Greek Orthodox Church for stretching, until they found better reasons, such as wearing pants to a service, to excommunicate me. My mom's side was amazing, until I was outed as a lesbian by a jealous aunt on a Jerry Springer-style talk show in Greece a few months ago. (but that is a whole 'nother story!) They were intrigued by the jewelry in my ear lobes. For my 18th birthday, my uncle sent me a pair of CBR's which I wore every chance I got. I'm planning on putting those through the flesh tunnels I got for Christmas recently.

But for now, I'm just happy to finally be at my goal size of 10mm. It's been a pretty long and very interesting ride and I know that if I want to teach in the future, that I cannot go any bigger. I don't really want to either and don't think it would be a good idea, especially on my left lobe. I'd rather be safe and prevent a tear or blow out instead of being crazy and going for it knowing of that possibility. My left lobe has pretty much had it on being stretched because it is smaller as well.

A few things I should warn about so that others do not copy my mistakes have been mentioned above, but these are a few of the biggest things that I think are important:

  • Do not stretch if you have commitments that involve you having to remove jewelry while the piercing is healing. Removing jewelry at this time could cause a tear, blow out, infections or other problems.

  • Tapers are your friends. They make inserting jewelry much easier and can prevent tears. It is not very safe to just shove a large piece of jewelry through a small piercing and that can lead to infections or bigger problems.

  • Allow time for your piercings to heal between stretching. Going from, say, 10g to 8g to 6g in a very short amount of time is almost like going straight from 10g to 6g. Healing times are different for every person and only you know if your body has healed enough to go for another stretch. I've learned from my years as a lifeguard that prevention is the key to having a much better shot at a happy and safe time. That thinking applies very well to stretching. If you prevent infections and tears by being safe, then you have a better chance of those things not happening and achieving what size you want to get to.

  • Do not share tapers, jewelry or anything that has come in contact with your piercings with others unless you make sure to have it properly cleaned. Not doing this can possibly lead to bigger problems and health concerns.

  • And one last thing that I've learned over the years from my family... Cinnamon sticks! They work very well in a new piercing. Just cut off a very thin slice of a cinnamon stick and place it in your piercing. This might just be an old Greek wives' tale, but it has worked for me. Not only does it smell very good (at least to me!) if you have a case of that nasty "ear cheese", for instance, but it helps keep your piercing from infection. Just make sure to continue cleaning your piercing daily and not keep the cinnamon sticks in more than a few hours.

I cannot wait to get back to school this weekend to show off my big fat Greek 00g lobes!

Much love and happy stretching,

-Sofie-

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submitted by: thespookyone
on: 23 Jan. 2007
in Ear Piercing

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Location: Bethlehem+PA

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