Ear stretching: 10 of your stories
The Magazine's recent article on ear stretching prompted many emails. Here are 10 of your stories.
Stretched ear lobes are becoming an increasingly common sight. From pop stars to people in the street, there are more and more flesh tunnels and plugs on display.
Like other sub-cultural practices such as tattooing and piercing, ear stretching has become popularised, says Prof Victoria Pitts-Taylor, from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Here are some of your stories.
1. I have four stretchers in my left ear sized 14mm, 12mm, 8mm and 8mm. They run in a line up the lobe. I am currently on the hunt to find anybody with more. The most I have seen other than myself is three in one ear, but these were much smaller gauge. After extensive searching - including an inquiry to the Guinness Book of World Records - I have yet to find anybody with four. John Ashworth, Leicester.
2. I stretched my ears to 10mm when I was in school aged 16, as soon as I was allowed to get them pierced. I considered my future career and always planned to remove them before they got to the point of no return. On of my best memories of having stretched ears was when I was walking in the Yorkshire Moors and the wind was whistling through the holes in my ears. Vicki Rothwell, Edinburgh.
3. I stretched my ears at the age of 15 (10 years ago). I was on a school trip to New Zealand for two weeks and I had been planning all year to do it then. My parents did not approve, actually I don't think I ever asked, so the trip was the perfect time. My friend and I bought a long spike from a vendor in Auckland and that night, in just 20 minutes, I had centimetre-wide holes in my ears. I did it the wrong way, really fast. It was incredibly painful and there was a lot of blood. Ten years on and three sizes bigger, I love my ears. Having stretched ears has not affected any aspect of my life. My suggestion for people planning on this body modification is to do it for beauty, not for shock. It's the people who do it for shock that end up with huge misshapen ear lobes. Oh, and don't do it in 20 minutes either. Katrina Smart, Melbourne, Florida, USA.
4. I have both of my ear lobes stretched to 10mm. It took me four years overall. I wear plugs made from natural stones like jade, gold stone, blue jasper, quartz and all sorts. I am 47 and a professional in the finance sector. Very few people have ever noticed, they just look like normal button earrings and have never been a problem. Why? Well, having worn every conceivable style of earring for 30 years and I fancied something different. Plus, I love the way they make my ears look and feel, they make me feel sexy and my husband says my "ear wobble" is cute. June, Bristol.
5. I stretched my ears as a teenager around nine years ago and do regret it as I've gotten older. I took it out around five years ago and I'm left with scarring and my ear lobe has not shrunk back to how it was, despite me stretching it with one of the smallest sizes available carefully and following guidance. I don't think it was as popular back then as it is now, but I think a lot of teenagers have and will regret it as they get older and begin their careers. While it's more popular there's still a stigma attached to it and what people think looks good may change over time. Gillian, Sheffield.
6. Lobe stretching has become a lot more mainstream in the past few years, but I stretch my lobes because I love body modifications. There are two types of people that have stretched lobes - the sort of people that are doing it as a statement or way of life and then there are the hipsters. When I see people with flesh tunnels there is an almost instant bond. It is easy to talk to complete strangers about their piercings or tattoos, which you would not get with hipsters. Hipsters should be stopped. Ben "grizzly" Smith, Stafford.
7. I have had stretched lobes for nearly 10 years now. I started as a teenager and always took great care with them. I went up to 20mm then after a couple of years took them out and they shrank down greatly. Since then I've gone back up to 20mm and now they have naturally shrunk down to about eight millimetres, although I am planning to go back up to 10mm and keep them this way. Susie Mazur, Chester, UK
8. I currently have 10mm flesh tunnels in both my lobes, my partner has 12mm in both lobes and a lot of my friends have stretched ears. I am now 22 and I didn't have my ears pierced until I was 18, but I always knew that I wanted to do it. My partner bought me a taper and two six millimetre plugs. I went straight from a regular piercing to six millimetres in an afternoon. Now, like tattoos, I will say that stretching is totally addictive and I am currently planning on going to 12mm or bigger, I just don't know. Elliot Stimpson, Northwich, Cheshire.
9. I've had my ears stretched up to 40mm, however I've recently downsized for various reasons. I used to walk through the street and people would actually stopped and stare, but nowadays it seems more and more people are beginning to accept it. It is seemingly becoming more and more popular, especially around my college. I was massively frowned upon doing it in school from the age of 15, I am now 18. Don't regret it one bit though, maybe in the future. Tommy Brookes, Wrexham.
10. I started stretching my ears at 18. Six years later they are at 35mm and won't return to normal without the aforementioned surgery. Now, as a trainee teacher, I have to conceal them when in school, but I certainly don't regret them. I wouldn't have done it if I thought I would. Many will still choose to discriminate against someone because of this particular facet of their physical appearance, but with ear stretching continuing to grow in prevalence I can only hope that this prejudice will gradually be recognised as being largely baseless. Jonny, Coventry