Trending on Campus: Nipple Piercings

Afton Weaver, Staff Reporter

Illustration by Haley King

Often considered taboo and on the fringe of fashion, nipple piercings are a becoming increasingly mainstream as the trend grows among Whitman students.

No longer just a symbol of one’s sexual independence, nipple piercings carry diverse meanings for individuals who have them. For some, a nipple piercing represents transitioning into adulthood, for others, an expression of art or an assertion of body empowerment.

For first-year Maude Lustig, nipple piercings were a well-thought through decision.

“I had been thinking about it for a long time,” Lustig said. “I just thought it looked really cool and that it would make me feel more confident … I think it’s super cool that you can adorn yourself in this way.”

Inspired by Rihanna, Lustig embraces piercings as a form of art.

“I think that nipple piercings, and piercings in general and all body modifications are part of fashion and fashion is an art form. I wouldn’t say that I got mine to be part of a trend, but I would consider it a decoration,” Lustig said.

For Lustig, the rising trend on campus is happening in part due to fads spreading through friend groups, as well as the piercings’ presence in pop culture. As celebrities like Kendall and Kylie Jenner flaunt their nipple piercings in the media, the trend has embedded itself into the latest styles, transforming this kind of body modification into an iconic fashion vogue.

“I know other people on campus that have nipple piercings, and I think part of the reason it becomes a trend, not just at Whitman but all over for our age group, is because it’s kind of like a friend cluster thing,” Lustig said.

When any trend gains public attention it is accompanied by criticism. The stigma surrounding nipple piercings, however, is fading as younger generations have begun to embrace body modification more and more.

“When I think about my parents generation … I think for them there is much more of a stigma around it. Depending on the piercing it’s not as big of an issue. But I think for our age a lot of that is getting better. The stigma is disappearing,” Lustig said.

Sophomore Grace Pollard, who got her nipple piercings last year, echoes this opinion, attributing the diminishing bad press to its positive acknowledgement in media.

“I think in the Hollywood culture they have become more common and less associated with ‘sluttiness’ or tackiness, so that has translated to college campuses,” Pollard said. “It’s a discreet way to feel edgy and powerful that isn’t visible to everyone all the time, which is a good balance.”

Considering nipple piercings throughout high school, Pollard finally went through with the decision as both a personal and aesthetic choice.

“I wanted to do something to make myself feel happy and new and invigorated because I have always gotten a feeling of power from getting a new piercing,” Pollard said. “I honestly just thought they would look really cute, but I got one done to make sure I liked it before I went through with the other one.”

Nipple piercings are a unique body modification in that they don’t have to be visible to the world. They can be either a personal embellishment or a statement for the world to see.

“They’re different because they seem kind of badass or edgy or sexual, but they’re only visible when you want them to be visible! So it definitely gives me a sense of power and control over my body in the way that having a more visible piercing would not,” Pollard said. “I get to choose who sees them and how they are displayed through clothing, and I can be in a more conservative setting and no one knows versus having a visible face piercing or something where that would be something that everyone notices.”

First-year Chloe Holaso got her nipples pierced spontaneously for her eighteenth birthday.

Although she acknowledges nipple piercings as body art, her decision to get them pierced was a personal one. Yet, she finds that her choice is sometimes misinterpreted by others.

“People see you as hyper sexual as soon you get nipple piercings and that’s not at all what it’s about for me,” Holaso said. “I just like the placement and it’s a new private thing that I can have. It’s not for other people, that’s not what I got it for,” Holaso said.

As nipple piercings become a rising trend on campus, what they can represent is as diverse as the student body.