# How to count piercings. November 10, 2008 8:13 AM   Subscribe

When counting piercings, should a woman's pierced ears (one hole in each ear, pierced at the same time and always used as a pair) be counted as one or two piercings?
posted by thirteenkiller to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (31 answers total)

This blog reader survey I'm doing asks how many piercings I have, and I don't want to mess it up.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:17 AM on November 10, 2008

If they're asking about piercings plural I think the assumption is that you have your ears done PLUS more. Usually I just say something like "Two, and the normal assortment in my ears."
posted by jessamyn at 8:19 AM on November 10, 2008

two
posted by patnok at 8:21 AM on November 10, 2008

one
posted by [@I][:+:][@I] at 8:26 AM on November 10, 2008

Lots of people only have one ear pierced. That would count as one. You have two ears pierced. That would count as two.

Wow, all that math finally paid off.
posted by iconomy at 8:29 AM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Considering as it is possible to have one of them, and not both, then it counts as two. The easiest way to do it would be a variety of jessamyn's answer, in that you declare how many piercings you have in each individual ear ("one in one ear, two in the other," et cetera).
posted by itchie at 8:30 AM on November 10, 2008

I'm with jessamyn - I don't even count my pierced ears as "piercings".
posted by muddgirl at 8:32 AM on November 10, 2008

Any artificially created entry hole plus exit hole through which you can place an object counts as a separate piercing. Thus, each ear counts as one piercing. Barbells, when used in places like nipples, count as one piercing, as there's only one entrance and one exit. Barbells that go through the upper and side parts of the ear count as two piercings, because there are two seperate entry and exit holes.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:35 AM on November 10, 2008

Any artificially created entry hole plus exit hole through which you can place an object counts as a separate piercing.

Seconded.
posted by scabrous at 8:41 AM on November 10, 2008

I count per ear, rather than by pair. So I have five in my left ear, two in my right.
posted by Lucinda at 8:45 AM on November 10, 2008

I agree with Jessamyn as well. I have pierced ears (one hole each), and if someone asked me how many piercings I had, my immediate answer would be "none." And then "well, do ears count?"

It may be two holes, but I'd consider it one piercing since it's a set. I'd also consider this type of piercing to be one piercing, even though there are technically two holes.

I'm not sure if there's a consensus on this, though - if you have room in the survey, write the answer out explaining your ear-holes.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:47 AM on November 10, 2008

One, but subsequent ear-piercings are treated as separate piercings regardless of whether or not they are a pair.
posted by desuetude at 8:51 AM on November 10, 2008

I would count them as zero if they're the only piercings you have, and they're used to hold typical earrings. If you have other piercings, but they're still used to hold typical earrings, I'd count the first set as one and any other piercings in your ears individually. If they're stretched, or typically hold really unusual jewelry, I'd count them them separately.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:18 AM on November 10, 2008

Nthing jess and muddgirl.

I have plain vanilla pierced ears, one tiny hole in each lobe where very ordinary earrings have resided for over thirty years.

If someone asked me how many piercings I have, I'd answer none without even stopping to think. It would never occur to me to count regular pierced ears as "piercings".

Having pierced ears, for women anyway, are much more the norm than not. I think asking about piercings is one small way of asking how interesting and how far from the norm are you.
posted by marsha56 at 9:26 AM on November 10, 2008

If you want to get literal and all - 2 piercings (two holes - you were "pierced" twice)
posted by Carbolic at 9:43 AM on November 10, 2008

Looks like the real answer to your question is that there is going to be a large margin of error in the survey results because of the myriad ways people answer, so you shouldn't worry about what you say.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 10:02 AM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

These various interpretations are...weird. A piercing is a structural thing. You have two holes in your ears, which are used independently: two piercings.
The only real point of interpretation I can imagine at the moment is the case of multi-hole "industrial" piercings, in which case it's up to you how to count them, I suppose(see Chrissamiller). But I'd personally consider each such combination a single entity. As a sidenote, I have a single tattoo whose placement happens to be both my wrists. I never would have had just the one done.

What's with the over-complicating? Lobe piercings don't count? Says who? Does it then magically count if they're stretched beyond "the usual?" (If yes, then what? It's a surface area thing?)

And I reject Marsha56's "asking about piercings is one small way of asking how interesting and how far from the norm are you." The idea of a norm is necessarily cultural, and if this survey is being presented on-line, that idea is pretty much worthless.
posted by Su at 10:12 AM on November 10, 2008

How many ears do you have? Two, you say?

Are they both pierced? Like, for ear rings? They are, then.

You have two piercings.
posted by Exchequer at 10:18 AM on November 10, 2008

(I think a piercing is also a cultural thing. In western society simple lobe piercing have been mainstream for ages, especially for females, while stretched ear-lobe piercings or piercings of other body parts always have been more of a subcultural thing. In the last decade or so, the English word "piercing" has become part of the Dutch language and is used for any piercings other than the traditional earlobe piercings. The latter are simply called the equivalent of "little holes in your ears", a term that has been around for decades.)
posted by rjs at 10:31 AM on November 10, 2008

Definitely, each hole counts as one piercing. Otherwise you mess up the count for others. Like, for instance, I have three piercings in my left ear, one in my right, and one in the bellybutton. That's a total of 5, not 4 - even though I haven't used the two extra on my left ear in years, which makes the real piercing-usage count 3.

Yeah, something tells me this survey of yours isn't going to get the most scientifically correct results. But then again, it's on a blog, so.
posted by neblina_matinal at 10:34 AM on November 10, 2008

(Oh, and as a point of information, adding to what rjs said, the word "piercing" has made its way into Portuguese as well, for all piercings other than the ears. The ears are so mainstream they are not referred to as "piercings", they are "furos" ("holes").)
posted by neblina_matinal at 10:37 AM on November 10, 2008

1 or 2 -- as pointed out above, this is just not going to be a precise survey.

"Zero" doesn't make a lot of sense. Since when does the fact that something's normal make it non-existent?
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:45 AM on November 10, 2008

For men, I think ears count. Dunno if it's one or two, though - two holes, or one "set". Seriously, though, you're worried about an off-by-one error on a blog survey? Go pierce your plate of beans.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 11:26 AM on November 10, 2008

Two ears, two holes, two metal items to remove before going into the MRI, two individual holes that could become infected while healing: Two piercings.
posted by o2b at 11:45 AM on November 10, 2008

"Zero" doesn't make a lot of sense. Since when does the fact that something's normal make it non-existent?

Because people ask questions for a reason, and I'm betting this one is not to get a scientific count of how many holes someone has in their body. I think the purpose of that survey question is likely to get a sense of how counterculture/alternative/gothy someone is. And a woman with her ears pierced in the usual manner who wears nothing but Tiffany Diamond Studs that match the tennis bracelet hubby bought her as a push present when she birthed Muffy and Buffy isn't in any way alternative. If that's all she's got, for the purposes of this survey, she's effectively got 0 alternative cred points for her piercings.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:59 AM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

two.
posted by beerbajay at 2:18 PM on November 10, 2008

I'd be mildly interested to see what the counts are for each respondent here, and whether there's any correlation between those whose method tends to bring the number down versus getting a raw count.

17 here, by my criteria outlined above, which while making me obviously more pierced than usual don't in my opinion indicate me as particularly counter-cultural(and I'm not) despite sheer number. By current practices in piercing that I've observed, they're rather conservative. Muffy and Buffy's mom would be making a bigger statement by getting a secret navel piercing than I am with all of this or #18.
posted by Su at 3:21 PM on November 10, 2008

I would count per hole. I've got a total of 8 earrings set up as 4 pair. If asked I would say I have 8 piercings, all in my ears.
posted by stoneegg21 at 3:30 PM on November 10, 2008

These various interpretations are...weird. A piercing is a structural thing.

Well, I'd be inclined to say that while a piercing is a structural thing, piercings are a cultural thing. And in contemporary usage, it's pretty much normal to clarify by saying "X piercings plus ears," or "Y piercings counting earlobes."

So while in a literal sense you are right, and each earlobe piercing is indeed one piercing, culturally there is a distinction made between "normal" earlobe piercings and more unusual piercings, and that distinction underlies the question being asked.
posted by Forktine at 3:44 PM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

"Back off of me, man, it's two piercings!"
posted by oats at 4:14 PM on November 10, 2008

2 holes = two piercing
I have an industrial (which is awesome btw) and count it as two piercing because for a while I wore separate earrings in the holes and only recently put the barbell back in. Sometimes really conservative people ask me how many piercing I have and I show them my industrial and say "Depends if you count this as one or two" and they stare in kind of a morbidly curious sort of way, usually shudder and mumble that they could never do that.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 10:36 PM on November 10, 2008

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