Ombligo, a.k.a. The Story of my Mexican Bellybutton Piercing

Ombligo is without doubt up there, along with libélula, as one of my favourite Spanish words. So to honour that, I got a needle stabbed through mine today. Reactions were weirdly mixed to my decision to get my bellybutton pierced in Mexico: one friend, who clearly thought I’d just asked some random taco vendor to stab an iced sewing needle through my skin, wisely advised me to ‘keep it clean’. My sister asked me if I was having some sort of midlife Mexican crisis and told me ‘ur not twelve’. My final reaction was ‘yay, cool’. Thanks GShep, you got my back girrrl. But, nimodo.

ombligoNow anyone who knows me knows I loveeee my piercings and that this one certainly ain’t my first. Since I persuaded my mum all those years ago to let me get my lobes pierced in Claires – her conditions were that I take out and put back in her earrings twenty times to prove that I could do it – I’ve had over twenty. Or to be more precise, as of two hours ago, twenty one.

When I decided I wanted more, of course we went back to the classic and yet resolutely terrible place to get piercings, Claires. One of the piercers brandishing her piercing gun at my ear joked about being known as Shaky Zoe right before she clamped that bad boy down and fired a blunt stud through my flesh. She lived up to her reputation and from that day forward, I only went to professional piercers.

After a heated week long debate with my parents, I was finally allowed to get my tragus pierced. My grandad nearly passed out when he turned round and saw me with a needle sticking out of the side of my head. And that was the day he probably made up his mind that if I ever got my tongue pierced, he’d write me out of the will (goodbye, antique charm bracelet). To be fair, that’s probably the only part of my body that remains unbesmirched by a metal stud, so well played Grandad, well played.

Admittedly, the majority of my piercings congregate in my ears, although a few sneaky ones have made it onto my face and torso, including a chest piercing that grew out and had to be removed before I went to Hong Kong. I took three friends with me to watch when I got that pierced, an experience I’m sure they’ll never forget.


I got a matching nose stud with my friend Poppy in college. That day will forever be known as ‘the day I got my nose pierced and then saw David Jason in my village on the walk home’. February 1st 2012. In case anyone was wondering, my nose was the most painful piercing but even then, it was over in about four seconds. My nipple, rather oddly, was the least. What was more painful was trying to keep it hidden from my mum for four months. Oh, and that one time I got it caught on a towel.

Piercings to me are all about the experience of getting them. Or of them falling out. As with most things, I do it for the story. Since arriving in Mexico, I’ve had to take them all out to comply with the stupidly restrictive guidelines for my residency card, which led to me not being able to get them all back in and subsequently losing one in Puerto Vallarta. Said ring was later found by Amy, lurking on her sofa. That same Vallarta trip my nose stud fell out, meaning I had to pay my first visit to a Mexican piercing shop. Let’s just say it was also my last visit to that particular gentleman. I spent a good ten minutes with a Mexican man’s ungloved hands fiddling about with my nose trying to get a ring in. That’s probably on my list of Things I Want To Forget Happened In Mexico, alongside ‘third degree burns’ and ‘giving my friend a throat infection’. In the end I did it myself and was charged 100 pesos for the pleasure.

So, yeah, piercings for me tend to be less about the piercing and more about the story behind the piercing. The story behind this one is that one day I got bored in Mexico and went to get a piercing. Cool, huh? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

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