When I had just turned 21, I got my nose pierced on Sunset Boulevard. At the time, I was in college and working for the campus ticket office, which meant I was occasionally required to work football games at the Rose Bowl. On the night in question, I was heading back to UCLA after carpooling to a game with a coworker, to whom I was so close that now, five years later, I have completely forgotten her name and cannot remember what her face looks like. While sitting in traffic on our way back home, we’d started talking about our mutual desire to pierce our faces and, being super cool and responsible, we pulled off the freeway and trolled Sunset until we found a tattoo shop, where we then paid people to shove needles through our nostrils.
And, I loved the piercing – for a few weeks, that is.
I ended up having a horrible reaction to the jewelry, because, as it turns out, it was plated nickel and I have terrible nickel allergy. The whole experience was disgusting and eventually, I gave up and let the hole close. I was, however, left with a nostril tattoo, as a souvenir of the time I let a nose stud burn its way through my face for a couple months.
I hated that mark for the whole three years I had it.
About two years post-initial-nostril-trauma, I began to consider getting my nose pierced a second time, partly because I really missed it and partly because I am so vain that having that blue smudge on my face was totally unacceptable.
Unfortunately (and perhaps wisely), I was, for a long time, too terrified to get a piercing reboot. For the several months I was considering Nose Piercing Part Deux, I went as far as to wear jeweled stickers from Claire’s on my face to simulate a stud. Just think about that for a moment. I wore stickers on my face. On purpose. I went to professional meetings with fake jewels on my face. In this photo, I’m in Chicago for the American Academy of Forensic Sciences conference:
That nose jewel? A STICKER. (That haircut? One year post-pixie.)
My dedication to the stickers was so intense and my hatred of my unintentional facial tattoo was so deep that when a friend from graduate school organized a trip to an excellent piercer, I climbed aboard.
That was in the late winter of 2011 and I have loved my little piercing ever since. I usually forget I even have it until someone mentions it. It doesn’t feel rebellious or cool or hip or cliche (even if it is). I adore it.
Because I love it so much, and because I had the jewelry changed last year to a really small two-piece stud that is way less bulky than the traditional “nostril screw,” I hadn’t taken it out for months before Wednesday morning. I needed to remove the stud for the photo shoot (you all remember I’m a model now, right? If you don’t, never fear – I’ll keep bringing it up), and I spent the last few days jewelry-free, contemplating whether or not I had outgrown my small “body modification.”
The answer? I just got home from the tattoo shop, where a guy with full sleeves and huge gauges in his ears put the “snap-fit” stud back in, because I was too stupid to know how to do it myself.
I learned two things tonight:
1) Apparently, I have not yet moved beyond facial piercings. I am still a badass!
2) The best way stop feeling like a badass is to show up to a tattoo parlor wearing a buttoned-up cardigan.