As evidenced by the Fall 2013 runways, the Nineties are back with an absolute vengeance. Flannels, babydoll dresses, tiny backpacks, and Doc Martens have returned to our radar in full force. But one late-20th century trend in particular completely blindsided us when we spotted it cropping up under, well... crop tops in the past several days--yep, we're talking about (drumroll please) belly button rings!
You may be feeling a bit of anxiety over this one--we get it. It's been nearly 20 years since a pre-Clueless Alicia Silverstone had her navel pierced in front of the world in the video for Aerosmith's "Crazy," skyrocketing the style into a sort of right of passage for girls. A taut teen tummy wasn't fully dressed without some belly button bling. There was a minute there when even Gisele flaunted a pierced navel--but the style fell out of fashion's favor around the time pant rises started creeping way back up above the muffin top line, and the belly button piercing's reputation sank almost as low as the tramp stamp's. In a word, they were trashy.
But recently, there's been a noticeable influx of celebs once again donning bejewelled belly buttons. Beyonce's new H&M campaign saw the human embodiment of all that is good in the universe accessorizing her bikini with a belly button piercing. She wore an even flashier piece on the April issue of Shape. Lindsay Lohan, who may or may not be undergoing her 14th career comeback, was seen sporting some midriff sparkle around Coachella this past weekend. And Britney Spears... well, we'll let you decide if that's a good thing or not.
For me, belly button piercings hold a special personal nostalgia. I was 16 when my mother lovingly escorted me--since I obviously couldn't drive yet--to the tattoo parlor two towns over to do the deed. A burly man with a braided beard and ponytail laid me down on a padded table, clamped down on my virginal navel with some presumably sterile instrumentation and pop! I was a woman. On the car ride home, a Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young song I used to sing with my dad as a little kid came on the radio and I remember thinking: "This is it. My childhood is officially over." (I've always had a flair for the dramatic.)
Trends have a tendency to come back and haunt those who succumbed to them in the past--be it scrunchies, fanny packs, or parachute pants--though few are as permanently scarring as the fads that actually penetrate your skin. It's been seven years since I removed that curvy barbell from my body for good, yet my midsection still retains a tiny mark just above my belly button as a reminder of a much simpler time. A time when TRL decided my taste in music for me and my weekly trip to the mall revolved around finding the newest navel accessory. One of my favorites was a silver and enamel fairy that I wore for an entire summer, even after the wings dug scratch marks into my torso. It was just SO PRETTY.
But the idea of sporting one in modern day has become somewhat of an inside joke with my current Williamsburg-dwelling self over time. Can a piercing exist ironically? While I've certainly toyed with the concept, I haven't been brave enough to find out.
Or what if it's past the point of irony? Could society possibly be ready to once again embrace belly button piercings back into the mainstream, beyond the sleazy grotto of the Playboy Mansion? And perhaps most importantly... are you?