Barista’s cheek piercings don’t go well with my morning coffee

As a Left Coast gal, I’m usually pretty liberal when it comes to people’s fashion choices, and that includes tattooing and body piercing. I think if someone is adult, she can generally adorn herself with the body art of her choice. I’ve seen some hip, stylish 20somethings who have the confidence and fashion sense to pull off a cascade of ear piercings and even a nose piercing or two, plus tattoos.

So, given my laissez-faire attitude about body art, I surprised myself when I stopped in at a downtown Walnut Creek coffee house after my morning workout and looked up at the young woman with whom I had just placed my order. She was a plainly dressed but reasonably attractive woman with short dark hair. She was polite, pleasant, and attentive to taking my order. But I admit I was a bit stunned when I looked up from pulling bills from my wallet and noticed two silver balls embedded in each of her cheeks, on either side of her face, where her dimples might be.

I don’t know why I was stunned–and repulsed. As I’ve said, I’ve seen people with studs and hoops hanging out of their ears, lips, noses, and navels. I’ve even seen nipple piercings–on men, no less.
One reason I was taken aback is that I had never seen anyone with cheek piercings. So, there’s the newness factor. There was also me instanstaneously imagining what it must feel like to have an earring stud piercing through your cheek. Could she feel the back of the earring inside the wall of her mouth? Could she flick her tongue over it?
But the other thought that popped into my head is not so easy to admit, because I’ll come off sounding mean and insensitive.
Well, here goes. About 45 minutes earlier, I had been on the treadmill at my gym watching the morning news, which featured the press conference of face transplant recipient Connie Culp.
Absolutely, Culp is a profile in courage and resilience. She suffered the nightmare of having her husband shoot her in the head in 2004, nearly killing her, and blasting off much of her face. She survived the shooting, only to suffer the nightmare of going out in public with her crushed mid-face, and having kids point and stare at her in terror.
The miracle of modern medical science gave her a chance for a better life through a face transplant this past December, a new advance in transplant surgery. Culp chose to show herself to the world this week, she said, to foster acceptance of those who have suffered burns and other disfiguring injuries.
Her doctors said her transplant is not yet complete. The Associated Press said “her expressions are still a bit wooden. … Her speech is at times a little tough to understand. Her face is bloated and squarish. Her skin droops in big folds …”
It’s those bid drooping folds of skin on either side of her face that, I confess, I find a little strange. Doctors plan to pare them away as her circulation improves and her nerves grow, the Associated Press said.
Looking at this coffee house barista, with the skin puckering up, even very slightly, around those silver studs embedded in her cheeks made me think of, yes, those folds of skin hanging off Connie Culp’s face–folds that doctors hope to one day remove.
But I think that even if I had not caught Culp’s press conference on the news this morning, I would still have been taken aback by the barista’s cheek piercings. It grossed me out, frankly. Looking at the above photo I found on Wikepedia of the guy with his cheek piercing is also rather unappetizing.
I don’t know why this kind of facial piercing repels me, more than others, like eyebrow or even nose piercing, although the idea of tongue piercing makes me squeamish.
Any thoughts of your own on tattoos and body piercing, and which you think is okay and which you think crosses a line?

39 thoughts on “Barista’s cheek piercings don’t go well with my morning coffee

  1. I don’t like those huge earrings that leave their ears with holes that will never go back.. like an inch around! That is gross… how can you get a normal job or a business world job with your ear lobes hanging down like that? Maybe they don’t want a job other people would want.. I guess.


  2. 10:36,

    It’s called gauging. The individual puts progressively larger earrings, which increases the size of the hole in the ears.

    If I was young, I might very well want to have all sorts of body parts pierced. But, I’m not young enough, and I try not to let my age prejudice me against the young people. When I was a teenager, my mom wouldn’t let me have a second hole in my ears, so I had my friends give me a second hold with a needle, potato, and dental floss.

    I don’t view it in a negative way. My only concern is that some of this stuff, like gauging, is irreversible. I stopped using my second ear piercing a long time ago, but no one would ever know that I had one. I would really feel for a young person that was stuck forever with something that (s)he did as a young person.


  3. I agree with the consensus, my nephew just started out with the smallest size and we begged him for months not to do it. Those ear holes can never be fixed, such a shame. Piercings don’t bother me as much because they can always be taken out, unlike a tramp stamp.


  4. I try to tell my son, if you want to be different and want to make a statement… DON’T GET A TATOO OR PIERCING!


  5. I always find it amusing how the older generations are repulsed and confused by the culture of the current generation(s).<>The generation before mine can’t comprehend hip-hop, and the one before that thought that rock and roll was the devil’s music. I wonder what I will despise from the next generation? Bionic eyes?


  6. Yep, you know you are getting old when current trends make you cringe..

    I remember mohawks and metal music offending the older generation.

    You get those moments that you say “I would never let my kids . . . ” Then pause and realize you are that person, the 30+ one that tried to tell you what to do when you were in high school.

    Or the “if it’s to loud, your to old!”


  7. LOL, and you know the kids will disregard what you say, at the same time giving you lip service.. “yes mom”..
    Most of us did the same, we knew parents just don’t understand, told them what they wanted to hear and did what we wanted anyway..

    Makes you feel wierd being on the old side of the fence.


  8. I guess it’s the permanence that bothers me. Mohawks, haircolor, small piercings, etc. they can all go away as we mature, but the gauging? You’re stuck with those unless you undergo some surgery and, even then, it’s not all that successful, the scarring is bad.


  9. Yeah, my reaction to the young woman’s cheek piercing made me feel old and surprised me. Really, I’ve seen other kinds of piercing, nose, lip, and think, not my thing, but if you can pull it off, great, whatever… But, yeah, thinking about the logistics of that kind of piercing was kind of unappetizing.

    The male fashion statement that continues to amuse me are baggie, below the butt pants that hip-hop kinds of guys STILL wear. I say STILL because that’s what the gangstas in West County were wearing in the early 90s when I worked there. I thought that fad would have passed away 10 years ago. My son and I were watching Kanye West on American Idol and HE was wearing them.


  10. You know you’re old when what the youngsters do drives you crazy. It’s like I’ve turned into my parents!!

    I must be such an old fogy. I’ve never seen American Idol, and I’ve seen that Kanye West’s pictures but I’ve never heard him sing. I think the only reality show I’ve seen is Jon and Kate + 8.

    Pretty pathetic, I know.

    If you get a tatoo, get a modest one where no one can see it. Be very careful about getting anything you can’t reverse.


  11. Ok, about the baggy pants. HOW in the world do they even stay on. I saw some guys walking down the street, and they were BELOW his butt… how do they stay up.. do they walk with an extra wide stance to keep them there? I dont’ get it?


  12. ok, this gets a little graphic, but I’ve always thought the point the guys were trying to make with those pants is that their package in front is big enough to hold up their pants…


  13. Starbucks has a strict dress and appearance code for their employees. They do not tolerate any piercings other than one in each ear. People who get piercings do so to make a statement. They want to look different and be defiant to social norms. In their effort to stand out and be noticed, they often repulse people. Repulsing people is what they want to do. What it tells me is that the person has deeper issues behind his or her facade. They need to find other ways to express themselves instead of deliberately repulsing other people.


  14. Yeah.. Peets…
    I had the same ‘mom’ reaction. And I am a 30 something mom. And I’m a nurse- I’ve seen many bodies, mostly old.. I often feel alone in my barren, tattoo free, pierce-less skin. But here is the thing I often say.. tattoo’s always end up the same- fuzzy, blue and about 3 inches lower than where you put them. Well, that is what I say about tattoo’s. Piercings, I mostly just say- ouch.

    oh, and I like the brunette barista with the beautiful cleavage better. Have not seen her lately.


  15. Starbucks must be lax with its one hole in each ear thing as a few of the baristas I’ve seen at several starbucks definately have more than one in each ear. Some have bars in one side of their upper ear and out the other (2 holes), plus their normal 1 or two on the lobe. I saw the guy there today with one of those larger guage things and a piercing on ht eupper part. Now I don’t recall any cheek piercings or other off the wall things. Typical nose stud I’ve seen, but I haven’t seen a nose ring or a lip piercing at all at starbucks.


  16. It is up to the manager of the individual Starbucks store to make sure employees follow dress code. Some managers may be lenient on dress code.


  17. not only do hip hoppers wear baggy pants but so do punkers and heavy raockers the only difference is there pants are saggin off their butts and tight on their legs and the piercing the cheeks thing is so cute ive always wanted dimples im just scared of the pain


  18. “People who get piercings do so to make a statement. They want to look different and be defiant to social norms. In their effort to stand out and be noticed, they often repulse people. Repulsing people is what they want to do. What it tells me is that the person has deeper issues behind his or her facade. They need to find other ways to express themselves instead of deliberately repulsing other people.”

    Rather an assumptive statement, there. You may have an opinion on the matter, but to declare such a thing as fact is nonsensical. Your statement itself may indicate deeper issues behind your facade.

    I am over 40. I have gauged ears, several piercings in my ears, my tongue is pierced. I do not have these to repulse people, and I'm not out to rebel against social norms (whatever you envision THAT to be; what you yourself prefer, perhaps?)Sure, I like to look different; but I'll bet you don't wear the same clothes as all your friends and neighbors, because you like to look different too.

    I get these piercings for personal reasons, and simply because I enjoy them. I had lip rings for a while, but I took them out precisely because I did NOT want to repulse people.

    I've had 70+ year old men tell me that they though earrings were just for girls; but they had to admit that mine actually looked pretty interesting.

    Piercing is not just for the younger generation, and it does not indicate personal problems or foolishness. Dislike them all you want, be try not to make assumptions about the people that have piercings. Talk to them; you may be surprised by their wit and intelligence.

    Judging people purely on looks is wrong. If they are obnoxious with disrespectful attitudes, your statement of hidden issues may be correct; but don't tar us all with the same brush.

    Sorry for the rant; absolute statements bother me. I do agree with you, SoccerMom; when in retail sales, obvious body modifications should be as low-key as possible, since you're in contact with so many different people.


  19. @ anon on May 7, 2009 4:59 PM: “Repulsing people is what they want to do.”

    …REALLY??!! You know this…how? Do you have any friends with unique piercings? Because I do. And none of them are trying to repulse you. It isn't about YOU. It's about exploring fashion and self-expression in ways that aren't dictated by Gap and Old Navy commercials.


  20. So I guess it's okay to judge people based on looks now…I sure hope none of you have young children to push your foolish opinions upon. How you look has nothing to do with who you are as a person. I've met complete a-holes that look like your average soccer mom so I don't think it's fair to judge on looks. Also' I don't know anyone that gets a piercing just to be repulsive. Most get them because they like the way they look, just like dying your hair or wearing certain clothing.

    Oh, and those “huge earrings that leave their ears with holes” can be reversed most, if not all, of the way. Really does it matter if someone has a wrinkled hole in their ear when they are 70? I mean the rest of you is pretty wrinkled and saggy by then anyhow.

    Long rant but what happened to having an open mind…


  21. I have my cheeks pierced; just got them done, actually…

    I also have my septum pierced and my lip pierced twice.

    I'm a piercer in Colorado Springs.

    It is entertaining to me that lifestyle choices such as my own could possibly affect you enough to post a blog about it.

    Yes, during my short time as a piercer I have seen people do some of the most HORRENDOUS things to their faces, leaving scars you wouldn't believe and that's not even the worst of it. I politely decline to involve myself in such procedures.

    But truly, most of the piercings spoken of in this thread wouldn't turn a head in my industry.

    Just something to think about.

    “The difference between tattooed people and non-tattooed people is tattooed people don't care if you have tattoos”

    Food for thought.


  22. I'm the Mom and guess what? My dimples are pierced and they are super cute. My daughter may do as she wishes when she is of age as long it does not hurt anyone else. If she wants piercings or tattoos then so be it, I support her. She may do whatever she wants with her own body and so may I. I'm pretty and fit and they add to my style. I never once gave a thought to what someone may think, because it's my cheeks. If they repulse you then move your eyes elsewhere and go on with your life trying to figure out your own unique trademark.


  23. I'm considering this piercing actually. I'm looking at much smaller jewelry than that of the fellow pictured, but looking nonetheless. I'm in consensus with piercings just being a sign of the times and a new generation. Times change, and with new times come new trends, methods of self-expression, and ideas of what is attractive. Modding isn't for everyone, and I doubt that it will ever be able to be considered “main stream”, but the select few who find it appealing make our world beautifully diverse, in my opinion.

    I've gauged my ears (nothing massive, only slightly larger than a sharpie marker), had my septum and navel pierced, and recieved a few ARTFUL (not BS flash) tattoos, and I recently had two microdermal skin anchors (if cheek piercings make you cringe, Google search microdermals) placed beneath my clavicles. My opinion MIGHT be slightly biased in favor of body modification.


  24. I actually love the look of cheek piercings, it gives you cute little dimples…what's so wrong with that? I have several facial piercings, I had my ears gauged to a double zero…which is about the size of a Sharpie permanent marker cap/lid. I wore them for about 7 years, kept a job in the corporate world for about 5 of those years…and never had any complaints about my appearance. And guess what?! Your lobes can return to normal size! After only about 2 months of leaving my gauges out, my ears are back to the normal size. They were never droopy! Sure…if you have one inch holes in your earlobe, they're not likely to shrink back to normal. You can get injections in your lobes to improve this though. That's extreme body modification, and most people do not go as far as one inch gauges.


  25. Some of the narrow minded comments just make me laugh. My cheeks are pierced, I'm over 40 also, I don't care whether someone else likes them and Oh yes…I have a 4 year degree from UCLA. I own a sucessful business. I don't care what you are wearing, where you bought it, or how educated you are with your “ew..gross” and “repulsive” opinions. I work hard and play to win and I didn't see you there helping me so I couldn't care less how my personal choices “make you queezy”. Use your glasses to find someone else to admire.


  26. The way some of you people think makes me sick.
    Why are you people so bored with your own lives that you actually care what another human wants to do to his/her body? Why would anyone tell their kid not to get a tattoo or piercing. NEWSFLASH keep telling them not to do it, and they will go crazy when they turn 18. Besides, what business do you people have telling someone else not to do something to their body as if your opinion means anything at all. You're probably all 40 year old parents who have led a way too reserved live and now you want to make those around you miserable too. Quit complaining about the habits of people in the world and go have some fun or something. I can't understand why you people try to shelter your kids from the world. The world is great! Try and enjoy it and stop complaining about everyone else and worry about the stupid shit that you are doing.


  27. So even though she was sweet, attentative, polite, attractive….you STILL feel the need to judge her based on a personal decision that does not affect you in any way/ shape/ form, other than your own judgemental views? Really? If you don't like it…LOOK AWAY.
    Look, you can look at any single person walking on the street, and find something about then you don't like…perhaps it a horrible haircut, a bad shirt, poorly done make up, etc…just remember, will you ever see her again? Also, are you claiming to be perfect, and no one will say ANYHTHING negative about yourself?
    Also, if we were to not do what we want to make ourselves happy, but try to please everyone around us, we would me miserable. Not to mention it's impossible not “offend” everyone. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say. Personally, I think you should be ashamed at the post you made of a “attentive, sweet, polite girl” who did nothing to you, calling her repulsive with something as little as a piercing.
    By the way..I have 1 1/2 inch stretched ears, both nostils pierced, septum pierced, microdermals in my chest, and almost a full body of tattoos, bright red and black hair, and of course, cheek piercings…and I am a pharmacy tech for the nations largest healthcare provider. I am constantly barraged about how “adorable” I am and how people with they could have the guts to be like me. Perhaps thats the issue here. You wish you could extress yourself the way other can.
    “Thou shalt not judge”. Ring a bell?


  28. I do piercings for a living and ive had cheek piercings. that being said i think we should all go back to the great wisdom from the hit Disney movie “Bambi” i belive it was thumper the rabbit who once said “if you cant say anything nice dont say anything at all”. My persoanl opinion if you dont want piercings or tattoos then dont get them. Who are you to say what is gross. Body modifications are beautiful and personal and everyone has them. ear piercings, makeup, fake hair, nails, hair dye, teeth whitening, plastic surgery. the only thing gross i see is people throwing stones in glass houses.


  29. as a response to all of those who believe gauged ears “never grow back”… i had my ears gauged until 2 years ago when i decided to become a nurse. after 2 years i cannot even wear normal stud earrings, my holes have COMPLETELY closed.


  30. I had my ears stretched to half inch and i took them out after a year and they shrunk back to a normal size. So… Clearly the majority of you ladies don't know too much about the subject you have such strong opinions on. perhaps you should spend a little more time educating yourselves rather then mindlessly indulging in the poking and proding of those who choose to shamelessly decorate their bodies how they see fit 🙂


  31. Gauging is not permanent. You can gauge up to about the size of a pinky finger or a size 00 an go back to a normal size. I know because I have done this. Don't be stupid, do your research before you knock it. Also, piercings are to make the individual feel better about themselves, not to please random strangers. If you don't like it, don't look at it, instead of writing stupid articles on the Internet. Get over it.


  32. I have stretched ears, facial piercings and tattoos. I'm also an over 40 design professional with a master's degree. Not everyone wants to decorate and clothe themselves the same. Everyone being the same gives me the creeps like eugenics. If you don't like my piercings or the East Oakland sag, you and Starbucks need to step off. I'm not trying to freak you out with my awesome style, and consider that how you dress might freak me out equally. Let's be proud of who we are and at the same time learn to admire the differences in our brothers and sisters around us.


  33. I already got my ears pierced can't wait to pierce my lips and eyebrows. Now that I've seen it I might consider the cheek piercing too.


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