Debate: Would you have your tongue pierced?



LAST WEEK'S report by the British Dental Association, recommending people shouldn't have their tongues pierced, didn't surprise me - but I don't go along with it. I have had much less trouble with my tongue than with my other piercings, in my ear and navel. If I catch these they nearly always turn septic, which never happens with my tongue. Saliva has antiseptic properties.

People usually react quite badly when they realise you have a pierced tongue. "God", they say, "Not your tongue, of all places!" I did feel a bit queasy during my piercing but the pain wasn't serious, just a bit weird. It hurt for at least a month afterwards. My tongue felt stiff and numb and when it settled down it was a greenish colour for about three months. The doctor said it was just angry and the normal colour would come back when it was ready, which it did soon after. There has never been any blood, at the time of piercing or since, which is about two years ago now.

Why did I decide to pierce my tongue? Well, I always thought men with pierced tongues looked sexy. A glimpse of metal when they spoke was a real turn-on. I was fascinated to know what kissing would feel like, then I wanted to know what a piercing would feel like. I was already pierced when I met my boyfriend. He's never actually talked about it, just played with it sometimes during kissing. I'd prefer it if he was pierced as well but he's too wimpish about it. I didn't have it done to belong to a certain group or anything like that.

My parents were a bit shocked at first but they've got used to my little quirks over the years. I would much rather have a piercing than a tattoo, which is far too permanent. I can remove my stud in a flash if I want to, with no nasty comebacks.

It's not visible when I am speaking so I don't feel it's intimidating in interviews. The only time it's visible is if I choose to display it. I did have a bit of a lisp at first, while my tongue was swollen, and my friends took the piss out of me but I wasn't really bothered.

Having my piercing has really made me aware of my tongue and how important it is. I never realised that it is constantly moving, especially when I am eating when it goes into overdrive, literally doing somersaults. It still amazes me how much work it gets through.

The only problem I have had was once when I was on the beach licking an ice-cream. I got the stud stuck between my teeth with my tongue twisted. I started to panic because I felt like I was going to choke. A girl on the beach realised what had happened because she had a pierced tongue. She calmed me down and it came free quite easily. If it happened now I think I would be able to handle it.

I'd definitely have my tongue pierced again if I had to. The pain has been far less of a problem than piercing my ears, which seem to be constantly sore. In the end, I think it's down to personal choice.

Interview by Richard Rockett.



I SAW the report that you shouldn't have your tongue pierced, that it can lead to infections, blood poisoning and even toxic shock syndrome, but I didn't need convincing. I'd never have it done.

I've got my ears pierced, twice in one ear, but they're all closed up now. I had them done when I was five; it was a family tradition. I just don't like wearing earrings any more. Maybe it's fashion but I think it's about more than that. It's to do with simplifying things. I don't want fussy fashions in my life.

The health thing is important as well. I went through a stage when I wore big, cheap earrings and they crippled my ears. I had infected lobes and that burning sensation you get when you wear cheap metal and it felt really horrible, as though I was putting something alien into my body. I'm diabetic as well and I can't afford to mess around with my health. I don't think other people are wise to do so either - there is too much disease and illness and infection in the world as it is. I hate the idea of what you could get from a tongue- piercing. Imagine getting food stuck under it, for starters. Revolting.

I don't buy the thing about it being good for sex either. If you're snogging your boyfriend you want to know that he's enjoying it because it's you, not because you've got a stud in your tongue. Sex and being in a relationship is all about spontaneity - you don't want to have to think about when you're going to take it out and when you're going to leave it in. Planning contraception is bad enough. Imagine it - "Would you like it in or out tonight, dear?"

I've never kissed anyone with a stud. I'd be worried I'd get snagged by it, which takes me back to the infection thing again.

People need to look at the reasons why they're doing it. I think there's a big shock element for a lot of people. It's about saying "Look at me, I've got something no one else has". But I think people should be confident to be different without any of that. Being different, being special, should come across in your personality - you don't have to prove it by sticking your tongue out and showing you've got a stud through it. It's immature, attention-seeking.

Many people who get pierced lack confidence and they need to work on that. People say you need confidence to have your tongue pierced, to dare to be different, but I think it takes more confidence to accept yourself for what you are. It's OK to be a freak - you don't have to have a stud through your tongue to qualify as a bit different.

It's about time as well. I hate the fussiness and vanity of it - it's like women who spend hours every morning deciding what to wear. If you're confident you can wear whatever you like and feel comfortable with yourself. You should dress for your own pleasure, not to prove something.

You can pick out the people who are genuine. I've seen Harley Davidson blokes with studs and you can see they've got a whole culture thing going there and I can admire that. It's coming from somewhere, steeped in history. It's all about context. I'm sure if I saw Africans who pierce as part of their traditional regalia I'd feel differently about it.