Lets talk about ear weights! Ear weights are an incredibly fun, fashionable way to wear stretched lobes. Ear weight designs range from super simple and small all the way to massive, ornate, decorative masterpieces. They are arguably one of the coolest factors of having stretched ears, and they open jewelry and fashion to a much wider range then just plugs and eyelets. But for many, how to go about wearing and using ear weights is a subject of confusion. So today, lets look at ear weights, how they work, and why they are awesome!
How they work
Ear weights, as the name implies, are weighted designs for wear in stretched lobes. They are different from hangers, which is any type of hanging design for stretched lobes. The difference is in the weight- though there’s no specific amount that defines the difference, many piercers would say the line between weights and hangers is somewhere around 30-40 grams. Anything under that usually classes as a hanger, and anything over classes as a weight. This is not an exact definition however, as there’s no official delineation of weight between hangers and weights.
So do you stretch with them?
No, ear weights are not for stretching. With weights the weight of the design is focused along the bottom of the lobe, and all of the weight of the design is left there. If you tried to stretch with weights, this could cause thin spots along the bottom of the lobe which could hinder further stretching. These thin spots can often suffer poor circulation, micro-tears, scarring, and become easier to snap or damage. Thin spots are often more sensitive to temperature and weather. Some people naturally have thin spots from incorrect stretching or pro placement. But if you can avoid causing thinning you obviously want to, and that means keeping ear weights for decoration only. Ear weights are decorative designs intended for short term wear, and not for assisting in stretching.
How does the ear not rip?
It’s the magic of stretched ears and distribution of weight! Imagine for a moment, two heavy bags. One is a shopping bag with those thin paper straps. When you carry it, it quickly digs into your hand and feels uncomfortable. The other is a backpack, with the widest straps. This distributes the weight over your entire hand or shoulder, and is much comfier to carry for a long time. It’s thanks to the distribution of weight over the larger area. Ear weights work much the same way- with stretched lobes the weight is distributed over a larger wearing surface on the wearable of the weight, and over the larger space of the stretched lobe. This means weights that would be painful and possibly tear your ears in standard earrings are now comfortable and practical for stretched ears to wear! Many folks with standard lobes look at folks with stretched ears in horror- isn’t that painful? Couldn’t it rip? And the great thing is with proper wear and care weights are often incredibly comfortable and safe!
So, how do I start wearing them- they are heavy!
Ear weights require weight training- kinda like training your muscles to be able to lift heavier and heavier weights, you have to train your ears to be able to do so as well! I suggest starting out with something fairly light- around 20-40g is good for your first pair. Start by wearing them for a few hours- as soon as your lobes feel sore, take them out and swap back to plugs. See how long that lasted. Maybe it was 4 hours. Work your way up from there! Let your ears rest for a day or two, then try to wear them for 4 and a half hours. Let your lobes rest for a few days, then try for 5! Keep slowly working your way up till you can comfortably wear them for a full 8-10 hours. Once you can do that and your lobes don’t feel tender or sore after, you can start wearing heavier weights! I’ve been weight training my lobes for many years, and can now wear up to about 150g for 8-10 hours without any soreness, and up to 220g for 8 hours with a little tenderness after.
Above all, listen to your body. If anything feels uncomfortable or painful, take them out and swap back to plugs. I tend to use a rotation with my weights- I’ll wear weights or hangers for a day, and then plugs for two days to allow my lobes to rest and recover. If I’m wearing lighter weights sometimes I’ll wear a few pairs a few days in a row, but some folks lobes will shrink up with lighter weights, so if that’s the caee alternate with plugs so you don’t loose size. Weights are like a workout for our lobes- and rest days are just as important to that as weight days!
When it comes to sizing for weights many folks can be confused. Do you have to wear them at the side your ears currently are? Nope!! Many folks wear weights with a wearable side far smaller then their lobes. For example diablo organics offers many popular weight designs on their coil hooks which range from 8g-2g, and people with ears up to a few inches wear these comfortably!
That said, weight distribution is a huge factor with weights- and a larger wearing surface means that weight is spread out over a larger space and more comfortable. So as you wear pieces that are heavier, also ensuring they have a larger wearable will make them more comfortable. And for the many fun heavy designs that have smaller wearables, like the hoops from Maya Organics, wearing them through eyelets and earskins allows for the weight to be distributed over the entire surface of the ear! When starting out many folks wear weights through silicone earskins, and work their way up to wearing weights in naked lobes. Earskins and eyelets are like training wheels for wearing weights, since they distribute the weight across the ear thanks to the surface of the eyelet or earskin. This can be a great way to help your ears when you first start out, or make specific pairs feel more comfortable.
I absolutely adore ear weights, they are some of my favorite styles for stretched ears and the possibility and fashion that is able to be done with them is incredible. There are a bevy of talented makers and companies producing some beautiful and unique weights for stretched ears. So go forth, experiment with weights, and start weight training your lobes! I’d love to see more folks wearing super heavy designs like I do, and more makers creating even more amazing pieces for this style!
Photos from Rob McConnel