Piercings and Tattoos Go Mainstream in 1990s

It seems like everyone has a piercing in Mr. Right is a Myth, book two in The Rock Stars Wife series.  That’s because piercings and tattoos went mainstream in the 1990s.  During the decade, they went from a counterculture (or worse, a criminal) symbol to a fashion accessory.

In United States, 29 percent of people have at least one tattoo.  For Millennials, that jumps to nearly half.

And for piercings, the number jumps even higher.  A total of 12 percent of males and 72 percent of females have some sort of piercing.  Most had theirs done before they turned 24.  Excluding earlobes, the most common piercing location for women is the naval.  For guys, it’s the nipple.

The body piercing trend began “when [model] Christy Turlington stepped onto the runway with a belly button piercing in 1993,” Marie Claire says.

Multiple Ear Piercings

Kelly pierced each ear five times, ran out of fleshy parts and started piercing the cartilage, which she says is more painful.  – Chapter 1

Ear pierced multiple times
Kelly ran out of earlobe and started piercing cartilage

Kelly’s pierced ears in series are inspired by my best friend who, like Kelly, ran out of earlobe to pierce and began piercing the cartilage.

Cartilage piercings are more painful because the area is firmer and denser than the fleshy earlobes.  The piercings can take as long as a year to heal.

There are 20 types of ear piercings.  Here are few:

  • Daith: In the cartilage of the inner ear.
  • Helix: In the upper cartilage of the ear.
  • Snug: Along the inner cartilage closest to the outer rim of the ear.
  • Tragus: At the front of the ear canal.  One of more painful locations.
  • Industrial: In the upper cartilage of the ear in two different places that are connected to each other with a small bar visible across the exterior cartilage.

Pierced Tongue

“I’m so sorry,” April says, turning pale and clicking her pierced tongue against her teeth.  “I didn’t mean to be insulting.  You know what they say about why you should never assume.” – Chapter 1


Tongue piercing
April has a midline tongue piercing

April’s pierced tongue is inspired by the girl who sat next to me in English class during my freshman year of college.  She spent the entire class clicking the piercing against her teeth.

“Tongue piercing is now one of the most popular piercings people get. It’s shocking, provocative and fantastic for oral sex (for both sexes), but at the same time, no one need know you have it,” Inkism says.

Dentists caution against tongue piercing because they lead to dental problems including chipped teeth, bad breath and receding gums.

There are nine types of tongue piercings.  Here are three:

  • Midline: In the middle of the tongue.
  • Snake-eye: In the tip of your tongue.  Looks like one large piece of jewelry, but actually are two.
  • Frenulum: In the small strip under the tongue.

Pierced Navel

Jen and I pierced our navels together.  Her silver belly ring looks great against her skin tone.  Mine’s just there.  I suck in my stomach.  Kelly says guys check me out whenever we go to the public pool, but I have my doubts.  They check out the hot Latina. – Chapter 17


Navel piercing
Cassandra and Jen pierced their belly buttons after high school graduation

Cassandra and Jen’s pierced belly buttons are inspired by the piercing I always wanted but never got.

Navel piercing is the only type of piercing that does not have its origins in the ancient world.

There are 10 types of navel piercings.  Here’s four:

  • True Navel Piercing: Pierces an “outie” belly button instead of passing through the skin above the navel like all other types.
  • Inverse: In the skin under the navel.
  • Horizontal: Horizontally above the navel.
  • Multi-navel: Multiple piercings to create a pattern out of body jewelry.


He pulls out a beer and straightens his posture.  That’s when I notice he’s a tall bottle blond with spiked hair and piercings in his ears and nose. My heart skips a beat.  Oh my God, he’s going to be the coolest English prof ever.  – Chapter 27

Tattooed man
Corey has multiple tattoos, all with an Edgar Allan Poe theme

“Butterflies and barbed-wire armbands were considered the height of fashion across America in the early ’90s,” Allure says of the fashion trend.  “Fairies and butterflies grace[d] the lower backs of Gen X, framed by low-rise jeans and midriff-baring tops.”

In the early 2000s, any remaining stigma attached to tattoos disappeared thanks to the ability to get a tattoo risk-free and TV shows featuring tattoo artists.

“For the most part, employers no longer look at tattoos as a reason not to hire someone, so people of all walks of life are getting tatted, like pre-school teachers, therapists, and soccer moms who would have never gotten inked in decades past,” Inkbox says.

There are dozens of tattoo styles.  Here are four:

  • New School: Cartoon-like, pushes the limits of believability, bright color palette.
  • Realistic: Looks like the person or object does in reality.
  • Watercolor: Has same opaque look as watercolor paint on a palette.
  • Geometric: Breaks design down into basic geometric shapes and uses shading to show light bouncing off the shapes.

There also are henna tattoos which are painted on the skin and begin to fade after a week or two.  In Indian culture, brides receive henna tattoos before their weddings to offer luck and protection.


Do you have piercings and tattoos?  Leave a comment below and tell me about them.  Comments close after 90 days.


Here’s the 4-1-1

Mr. Right is a Myth by Melina DrugaThis blog is a companion piece to The Rock Star’s Wife, a series about sex, family, and rock & roll.  The series has elements of chick lit, romance and erotica and is best compared to The Vagina Monologues for its frank talk of sex and its consequences.  The series follows Cassandra from her teenage years into her 40s as she navigates relationships (both romantic and platonic) — all with music playing a prominent roll.

Book two, Mr. Right is a Myth, debuts August 2023:  Co-ed Cassandra Economos has a plan.  Earn her degree then move into a Chicago penthouse.  If she can meet a guy who accepts her, high sex drive and all, that’s an added bonus.  But how many frogs must she kiss before she meets a prince?

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