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Claire’s Child Ear-Piercing Policy Is Under Fire But Latinas Have Opinions Of Their Own

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For many Latinas, getting their ears pierced is a cultural rite of passage, one of the first introductions to their culture and identity as a Latino. Yet, despite this view of a pinch to the ear as a cultural stepping stone, many in recent years have begun to contemplate the implications of the act and include it in conversations about children, body autonomy and consent.

This week, a former employee of Claire’s, the American retailer of accessories that has pierced nearly 100 million ears across the globe in forty years, criticized the store online for its role in piercing children’s ears without their consent.

A former Canadian Claire’s employee said she was pressured to pierce a seven-year-old’s ears despite the fact that she protested against the procedure.

Raylene Marks of Alberta, Canada says that she quit her job at one of Claire’s retail stores over the company’s ear-piercing policy. In a widely shared post to her Facebook account, Marks wrote “An Open Letter to Claire’s Corporate” describing an incident in which she refused to pierce the ears of a seven-year-old customer, who “made it clear she no longer wanted to get her ears pierced.”

According to Marks, she and her colleague were supposed to do a “double” — a term for piercing both ears at the same time—on the young client who had been brought in by her mother. Marks wrote in her post that the girl cried and said that she “didn’t want us touching her, that we were standing too close, that she was feeling uncomfortable.”

The girl and her mother left before the piercings could be done, but Marks eventually went and complained to her manager who told her that if the mother had insisted that they continue with the procedure, Marks “would have had no choice but to do it.”

Marks says that she quit her job at Claire’s over her manager’s response the same day.

The former Claire’s employee’s viral post has relaunched debate over piercings and Latinas have had varying opinions.

Users on Facebook have brought in various opinions about the incident. One user wrote  “So…we teach kids to speak up when someone is touching them and making them uncomfortable to prevent sexual abuse, tell them to tell a parent when this happens. Then this parent the child is supposed to trust ignores them, and a corporate policy expects employees to help the parent disrespect what the child is saying? How can kids learn to respect their own body when the adults around them don’t?”

Latinas launched a discussion on consent and how piercings related to their own cultures.

Many were quick to say they were grateful they didn’t have to deal with the pain of piercings when they were odler.

Others pointed out that they would never force a child to do it if they didn’t want to.

Others highlighted the normalcy of the piercings.

And others pointed to other issues– that piercings are used as a signifier of femininity.

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