“32% of university students currently had piercing while 13% had removed their piercing within the past year. Each of these studies indicates that a sizeable percentage of college-age individuals are involved in body piercing. Regarding reasons for obtaining a piercing, females were more likely to state that they obtained their piercing to be fashionable and because “they always wanted one.” The wish to be fashionable has been identified in previous studies as a common reason for piercing. In today’s fashion world, females frequently wear shirts that expose the midriff, thereby allowing navel piercing to be readily observed”. (King and Vidourek, 2007)
People from other walks of life see the trend in a different perspective. Experts have forwarded alternative explanations for this practice among young people. Some suggest that for young people, body art represent a mechanism of control and ownership over their own physiques. In the neo-liberal globe of the early 21st century, with its attendant consumerist culture and individual alienation, resorting to such drastic measures of expressing individual identity has become inevitable. In other words, beyond the obvious external appearances, such behavior might indicate a deeper emotional imbalance that can lead to more serious behaviors such as self-mutilation (Carroll and Anderson, 2002, p.629).
In recent years, clinicians have identified correlations between body piercing and the prevalence of self-injurious activities such as cutting, burning, and biting. The exising literature on the subject cites psychological origins for this behavior has pointed to its causes, characteristics, and treatment. In addition, anecdotal reports from student counselors suggests that
“Some students who cut, bite, burn, or pick their skin also choose to undergo other painful but more socially acceptable body-altering procedures, such as tattooing and body piercing. This finding was also reported in non-college populations. This phenomenon raises questions as to what, if any, motivations or characteristics those who tattoo or body pierce may share with those engaging in behaviors more typically regarded as self-injury. However, there has been limited research comparing these areas of body modification; instead, the majority of studies have focused exclusively on one or the other type of body-altering behavior.” (Aizenman and Jensen, 2002)
Researchers have also identified socio-economic factors that play a role in driving an individual to pierce her body. A combination of low socio-economic background and a male-dominated society impels young women and girls to pierce their bodies. Hence, such behavior is an offshoot of the status of women in general in contemporary American society, where they see themselves as powerless and “are reared to hate their bodies or mold them to the requirements of male sexual culture” (The Washington Times, p. B01, October, 22, 2002). Further, young people who pierce their bodies were found to be prone to indulge in other anti-social or self-destructive behaviors such as joining a gang, delinquency, using recreational drugs, etc. The earlier an adolescent pierces her body, the greater the chance for antisocial behavior. All these findings go on to suggest that body piercing might be an external manifestation of some inner psychological or emotional inadequacy in the individual, and that the enduring solution to her problems may not lie in such external changes to her appearance.