If you grew up in the ’90s, you likely had a belly button piercing, or at least begged your mom to let you get one so you could ~subtly~ remind boys you had, IDK, an abdomen (????) during pool parties and the like. Yet as clothing waists crawled higher and higher, the belly rings faded away, but the holes remained. Here, 17 things only women who once had belly piercings will remember.
1. The magical sensuality of ~torsos~. Somehow getting your belly pierced was the sexiest thing you could do back in the day. For what? I’m still not sure. To remind guys of the real estate between your boobs and vag?
2. Thinking it’s a timeless look that will last forever and being really effing into it. I remember specifically looking down at my stomach when I got my belly button pierced, thinking, I’ll only take this out if I no longer have a naturally concave stomach from doing nothing all day, which will be never! And then I went to college and immediately gained weight and ate my words.
3. Being afraid it would hurt a ton and then feeling like you deserved a congressional medal of honor when it was over. Bonus points if you proudly declared “it didn’t even hurt,” as you stood back up on shaky legs and unattached your Vulcan grip of your mom’s hand, even though you were so terrified your brain blocked the whole thing out.
4. Sea salt spray! It didn’t matter that the markup on some bottled salt water was, like, 300 percent. Now that you had endured the pain of the actual piercing, the last thing you wanted to do was make the cleaning process any more difficult than it had to be.
5. Walking like a robot out of fear you’d accidentally knock into it or something while it was still tender and fresh. You probably had the best posture of your g-dang life in the days immediately following your navel piercing. Sitting up hella straight seemed like the only way to avoid catching it on your pants or shirt if you were slumped over.
6. Being deathly afraid to touch it. Sure, you heard somewhere that you should twist the jewelry around while cleaning it, so your skin wouldn’t stick to it, but that just seemed like a whole thing while you were still getting acclimated to this new foreign object.
7. Yahoo Answer-ing TF out of “belly button infection signs” every 40 minutes. I know I just Googled what a keloid looks like, but what if the definition has changed to include this small possibly something, probably nothing bump?
8. Sea salt soaks! Some of my best memories from high school involve me hunched over on my computer trying to type an essay with my right hand only, while my left hand held a shot glass full of sea salt solution over my piercing. Everyone says holding the shot glass up to your belly should suction it into place, but you’d only need one fortuitous spill onto your crotch to understand that you still really needed a hand to hold it in place.
9. If you had to get it pierced with a hoop, you probably felt hella dumb and counted down the days until you could slide a barbell in that puppy and be the midriff-y pop star you were meant to look like. Depending on your anatomy, your piercer may have suggested a hoop and not a barbell to speed up your healing process, which, all good and everything, but every day with a hoop and not a barbell was basically the same as not even having your belly pierced. After all, what’s the point of showing off some dumb pirate-y ring when everyone else had those curved barbells with, like, dolphins on them?
10. Speaking of barbells with dolphins on them, BARBELLS WITH DOLPHINS ON THEM. Belly jewelry was so different than other jewelry in the sense that the tackier and kitschier an item, the more you absolutely had to have it. Would you wear stainless steel, industrial-looking earrings with smiley faces on them? Absolutely not, but throw me that option as a belly ring and I’d ask my mom the last three digits of her credit card info to order, YESTERDAY.
11. Legit cringing through every jewelry change tho. No matter how many cute Swarovski Hello Kitty belly rings you got, you still cringed, holding your breath every time you had to slide your jewelry in and out.
12. Very conscientious showering. Goodbye are the days of shower poufs and toweling off all willy-nilly. Snag your piercing on a loofah or towel once, and you will be forever scared. Every soapy move and careful towel pat is now a conscious decision you rehearse in your head and block out before executing.
13. Taking your shirt off to go to the pool or beach was the BIGGEST FLEX, EVER! Nothing in the world could compare to the feeling you got when you’d finally get to show off your belly ring with the world. You basically felt like Rachel Leigh Cook from She’s All That coming down the stairs at prom and surprising everyone whenever you’d get to take off your American Eagle tee and flash your navel jewelry at the beach. Even if you were only there with your BFF Krista, who’d heard you talking about it 43 times already.
14. Being deathly afraid of someone ripping it out of your body while hooking up. Every teenage anxiety about hooking up, but magnified now that there’s a very real possibility that heavy petting could result in flesh tearing.
15. Not being able to enjoy high-waisted things. Sure, those high-waisted pants look super cute and I’d love to be part of your ’80s group Halloween costume, Lauren, but how can I when I’ll be stressed about my stomach accessory rocking back and forth against the button of my fly all night like a mini seesaw from hell?
16. Being really effing over it. One day you wake up and realize you really hate living your life at 80 percent because of the pervasive fear that you may snag your piercing and bleed out in the shower lest you scrub too hastily while wearing a hair elastic on your wrist. Or that someone will mug you and rip out your piercing to subdue you when you fight back. Or that you’ll run into Prince Harry at a pool party and you’ll hit it off until he sees your piercing and decides it’s too lower-class for his future bride to have a navel piercing and ghosts you … or whatever.
17. Realizing it’ll probably never close up and heal all the way back. Even though you spent all those years afraid that five seconds without jewelry in your hole would close up your piercing completely, you realize now that your belly button may never look the same way it did before. Yeah, you probably have visible holes where the piercing used to be even though it’s closed up to the point where you can no longer fit jewelry through it but that’s OK. Bodies change! And now, every time you cautiously look down mid-shower out of habit, you’ll think of how far you’ve come since those years you spent at the mall eyeing dangly chandelier belly rings in a kiosk and waiting for some physical proof of your entrance into womanhood.
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