Very Excellent Habits

Earscaping my midlife life crisis


Adwoa Aboah for Teen Vogue

I put together a free Very Excellent Habits Earscaping Planner. You can get it here. 

Here’s a little sneak peek of what’s in it.

On my 8th birthday*, my mother took me to Woden Plaza to get my ears pierced. I climbed up on the bench stool, feeling extraordinarily cool and weirdly confident. A young girl barely older than me hastily scribbled two poorly spaced dots on my ears and blunt forced trauma-ed sparkly purple studs through my tender lobes.

It really fucking hurt.

I wanted to cry but I knew Sarah V hadn’t cried when she got hers done and Sarah E ‘didn’t even feel it’. Peer pressure bravery forced me to plaster a faux smile on my face and pretend I was fine. I was not fine. Armed with my little (now iconic) pink and green spray bottle of antiseptic I went home and slept poorly for months on ears that were very displeased with me.

And so began my tumultuous journey with ear piercing or ‘earscaping’ as we now call it. When I was in year 7, I got a second hole in my left lobe. I pretended it wasn’t because of Claudia Kishi, but it absolutely was. I wanted to create tiny art scenes in my ears just like her.

“She had a pink flamingo in one ear and a palm tree in the other, and then put a tiny gold monkey on top of the palm tree.”

So dibble.

When I was in late high school, I got my helix pierced. It was painful and annoying. I was a musical theatre kid and every time I got my mic put on it would get knocked or caught in the tape so I gave up and took it out. Sometime in my 20s I stopped using my Claudia Kishi hole and it closed up.

Which brings me to my midlife crises. I’m done having babies and that stereotypical urge to reclaim my body has been nagging at me all year. Tattoos aren’t for me (commitment-phobe), and my curly hair doesn’t really allow for drastic transformations. I have a light penchant for putting holes in my body whenever I feel an inner shift. Eight years old is when you go from being a little kid to a big kid (first lobe holes). Year 7 needs no explanation (second single hole). College caused the helix and in between it all I got my belly button pierced when I was 16. Piercing seems to be my thing but it’s kind of everyone’s thing and it’s certainly nothing new.

Ancient civilizations have used piercings in tribal rituals, as a class communication device and as a way to show how scary they are. Regina George may think that hoop earrings are ‘her thing’ but pirates wore them centuries before she did as a way to safely carry their wealth with them. If their ships sank and their bodies washed up on the shore it was customary for the locals to use the gold from their earrings to pay their funerals.

Piercings have and always will indicate a hierarchy of coolness, rebellion, and artistic expression but no one gets to assume what your body modification means. That’s for you to decide. For me, earscaping is a body reclamation. Doing something I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to do when I was pregnant or breastfeeding my babies for years. It’s also for me. There’s little point in me even doing this because I have a lot of hair and people rarely see my ears anyway but I want to and that’s reason enough.

By the way, the term ‘earscaping’ is what the cool kids call having lots of piercings in your ears, but it’s more thoughtful and planned than just being bored on a Saturday afternoon and deciding to get another ear hole. My muse is Scarlett Johansson for reference. I love her spacing and I want the same-ish vibe just less bling.

My Earscaping Journey

Once I decided on my preferred midlife crisis vehicle, I started planning my earscaping with the following points in mind.

I didn’t know where I was going with my journey, but I started with ‘seconds’, which are literally second lobe holes. I attempted to get pierced at a proper, scary-looking tattoo studio, and they kept cancelling my appointment while simultaneously bullying me into not getting it done anywhere else. After researching some more I discovered Blomdahl piercing. It’s a branded method where they use medical-grade plastic studs and guns. I was imagining neat little silver orbs but when I got there they had run out of the plain ones and I had to get rainbow sparkle. I was too flustered to say no. The piercer also pointed out that my first holes were uneven and suggested I re-pierce one of them to match or it would throw my whole earscaping off. I had three relatively large and tacky sparkly studs in my ears for 6 weeks. It looked like a twelve-year-old had done it in their bedroom with a needle and an ice cube.

Eventually I could put my lovely hoops in and all was well in the world. Next up was helix. Sparkly disco studs aside I was really pleased with my Blomdahl piercings so I booked in again on the proviso that they had more subtle studs available. They’re not open weekends so I had to look elsewhere. I ended up booking into Hairhouse as a second choice. I deeply believed I was too cool to get my ears pierced at a Hairhouse (it’s like a chain of hairdressers in Australia), but my experience was extraordinary.

These are only photos I’ll share ATM because as you can see I’m in healing mode and there’s not a lot happening.


Here’s a rundown of getting my helix pierced there.

I got my upper and mid helix done and they’re healing beautifully. I almost can’t notice them. I was told not to sleep on them for at least three months but sorry Eddie, no dice. They’re still a little tender but I can gently rest my head on them and get an okay hour or two on that side of my head.

If, like me, you haven’t had your ears pierced since the Spice Girls broke up, after piercing care has changed.

I’ve had five piercings in the last 6 months and they’ve been totally fine. This is a shock because every other piercing has been fairly dreadful so either the above industry changes have made a big difference or my body is simply less of a snowflake.

At the moment I wear Mejuri White Gold hoops in my first holes and Mejuri Silver Huggies in my second holes. I plan to get some tiny silver or white gold flat-back studs for my helix and constellation.

I chatted with Eddie, and my next step is a constellation on my left ear, where I’ll get 3 more piercings and put tiny studs in them to make a little milky-way on my lobe. Which will look very cool and sleek until I turn 70 when I plan to enter my witch era and I’ll do an art nouveau web of chains and rough-cut diamond studs. I’ll wear nothing but floor-length velvet gowns, swim naked in rivers and have a shot of whisky for breakfast every morning. I can’t wait.

I might stop there with my earscaping but who knows? The earscaping journey is different for everyone. Some people meticulously plan their scapes from the beginning but I’m enjoying my slow, organic experience. I’m sold on Eddie. No one else will put holes in my ears thank you very much.

Earscaping should remain a moving target, especially if you unwittingly started your journey with lop-sided purple sparkles you got done in a mall.

Anyone else planning earscaping? What’s your next piercing?

*As an adult with my own children now, eight years old seems very young to give permission for someone to stab holes in your child’s ears. No shade to my mum, everyone did it and I assume people are still doing it and I may well do it but as a societal norm it seems… early?

P.S I send out a newsletter every Wednesday at 10 am – you can sign up for it here.

P.P.S Don’t forget your free Very Excellent Habits Earscaping planner! 

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