The normal ear piercings of the earlier half of the 20th century began to be extended from the 1960s onwards - tattoos and tragus piercings became common, and that extended to the nose, septum, navel and other parts of the body in a drive to be better and different. Once that had reached a limit, attention turned to increasing the diameter of earlobe piercings.
Ear Stretching is Not New
This was not a new thing, because ancient cultures such as those of African, South America and Asia had been piercing various parts of their bodies for hundreds if not thousands of years, and even lip and ear stretching was commonplace in the societies of each of these continents. The West simply followed suit, and where we are now is at the piercing gauging stage. Nobody knows who first stretched their ears in the West, but it stared becoming common in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Like many such fashion trends the more outrageous tried it first, and then ear stretching began to become a fashion statement on behalf of rock and pop stars, and then catwalk models. That was enough to start the trend among the general population, so it could be argued that stretching ears was originally a fashion statement.
However, pierce gauging is a rite of passage among certain communities, such as the Maasai people of Kenya and northern Tanzania, and may also have been regarded as such among the Goths, punks and emos who were also known for their many piercings and stretchings. Nevertheless, this is insufficient to suggest that it is regarded as such to today, then stretching ears is more of a fashion statement or a 'follow the leader' action than anything else.
Celebrity Ear Stretching
If you favorite movie star, rock star or pop singer has a stretched piercing, then why not you? That was likely the initial impetus for most people who stretched their ear piercings, and then it may have become a contest as to who could stretch them the most. Today ear stretching appears to be more of a fashion statement that anything deeper, since there are many famous people now who are using flesh tunnels.
A recent celebrity was Dougie Poynter, the popular winner of the 2011 ITV 'I'm a Celebrity get Me Out of Here'. Dougie is bassist and occasional vocalist of the pop group McFly, another member of which won the 2011 BBC 'Strictly Come Dancing'. A versatile band! Followers of this band will now be liable to get their own ears stretched, and this is how ear stretching becomes popular and common across the country.
No matter what the reason, if you decide to have your earlobe piercings stretched you must make sure it is done safely and properly. You can do it yourself, although a professional ear stretcher will likely be safer but also more expensive.
DIY Ear Stretching
It is possible to purchase the equipment you need online to carry out the procedure yourself. Many men and women have done so and got perfectly good results, but it is critical that you follow the instructions to the letter and do not try to cut corners. Sterilization and cleanliness are important as is patience.
Stretched ear lobe takes time achieve properly, and if you do not leave enough time for each stretching step to heal and 'take', then the cosmetic surgery needed to repair the damage can be expensive! However, the steps are simple and the process relatively pain-free, and there is no reason other than carelessness or impatience for it not to be successful. Large numbers of people stretch their own ear lobes without any problems.
Where Will It End?
Piercings have developed from the standard ear piercing to tragus bars and piercings in other parts of the ear. They then progressed to the lips, nose, and navel, and then to more intimate parts of the body. Now there is nowhere else to pierce so people are turning to enlarge their piercings to as large a diameter as possible: where will it end?
While ear stretching is now commonplace, will piercings of the genitals be enlarged to an extent that these parts of the body are no longer properly functional? Doubtful - there is limit to what young people will sacrifice in the name of fashion! This limit has yet to be reached.