by Melissa Smith | Arts & Entertainment editor
Large, black inch sized gauges that are consuming his ear are what one will first notice when glancing upon senior Brandon Revelles.
“Well, with gauges, I first started off with earrings, and it just wasn’t enough, and I was just kind of always obsessed with the whole concept of it,” he explains.
Revelles didn’t put much thought into getting the gauges, but is aware that they are permanent.
“So I got [my septum] after I got my tattoo done, so it was kind of more out of spites, you know. I mean my gauges and my tattoos are obviously going to be forever.”
Gauges are a form of a stretch piercing, originated from indeginous peoples, that creates a hole in the earlobe to put in jewelry. First it starts off with a small gage, then gradually, to make even larger holes, one has to purchase larger ones to replace the old.
“It’s kind of an expensive thing to add on because you have to build up on it, and honestly I’ve spent probably almost 200 bucks trying to stretch my ears until now. So it’s expensive and kind of risky,” Revelles states.
People get gauges because they represent a part of sub-culture, and have an aesthetic appeal.
“I want to get guages because I like the culture, like the indie punk culture, where its cool to have spikes in your ears and stuff,” senior Brandon Adkisson said.
To Adkisson though, the smaller the gauge the better.
“If I got gauges I’d keep it a small size. If they’re too big I think they’re lame, but if they’re the right size then, and if they pull them off, it probably looks good,” he said, “I wouldn’t want big holes in my ears, it looks gross.”
Not only might large gauges look ‘gross’, as Adkisson opinonates, they might also be healthier. For gauges are often prone to infections-or even worse, blow outs, and the bigger the gauge-the bigger chance taken.
“I’ve had a couple of blowouts where like it pretty much rips, because my ears used to be like square because of these sort of gages I had where they were squared off. At a certain point it started ripping I had to go back down and so on. So it kind of hurts once in awhile if you get it infected,” said Revelles, then gives an example, “I know this girl, she ripped her ear while gauging it [and now she has one ripped ear], so its kind of risky then once you rip it its pretty much done, [so as you get bigger, the more of the risk].”
Infections can be just as disturbing as blow outs.
“I mean the worst case I know is that people can get them infected, and then I know that it can really mess up your ear because it pretty much builds up like cartliedge on it, not cartliedge but, you know how your hand all rough it stuff? Well it kind of builds up like that, like calluses,” Revelles then elaborates further, “It kind of builds up in your ear sometimes if you rip it too much, or they can just get really thin and rip, if you take care of it honestly you should be fine.”
Once the whole gets gradually bigger and bigger, it is harder for it to go back.
“At a certain point they don’t close up, I’m right before an inch, I’m about to go up to an inch in a little bit, I bought some inch [gages],” Revelles said, ” [But] there’s just people who like want to just want like just harpen and stretch them [and not stop]. Like me and [my friend] have been stretching for like quite a bit now, and there’s people who will like just want to stretch, stretch, stretch and that’s how they rip their ear.”
Although there is the chance of ripping or infection, there is also the possibility of never getting the ear hole back to normal.
“I’ll probably never be able to have a normal earring size again,” said sophomore Jaryn Worley, Revelles adds, “If I wanted to go down a little bit then I could, I could downsize it a little bit more, but it will never close.”
Along with being pricy, permanent, and risky add ons, they are also kind of, well, smelly.
“After awhile, I mean once you get to a certain size like when they’re so big they start to smell,” sophomore Jaryn Worley explains.
And its not a pleasant smell either.
“Like cheese, like gross old cheese. It’s so nasty. I mean it’s especially bad when people don’t clean it. People that just leave them in and just don’t clean them ever, that’s the smell. I’ve been around girls before where they take them out, and you’re like sitting next to them and you can smell it you’re just like like ‘Oh god, thats so bad’,” Worley explicates with a disgusted, amused laugh.
The stink comes from the stretching, and there are precautions to stop it from becoming an issue.
“Like, I clean mine every single time I take a shower with my body wash so they never smell no matter what,” said Worley.
“There’s proper cleaning techniques to prevent that situation, like disinfecting it every night and cleaning your gauges, same thing with earrings,” Adkisson appended.
Worley keeps all these hazards in mind for the future, but is hopeful for now.
“Maybe I’ll regret getting them, I guess. I’ll worry about that when it happens.”