Professional Hand Holder- A Guide to Etiquette for Friends & Family in the Piercing Room
Your friend or family member is getting a new body piercing! That’s pretty exciting. Even if you aren’t the one being pierced, going with someone can be just as big of an experience. You are their rock and their cheerleader, here to support them through their awesome new adornment. Maybe you have plenty of piercings, and you get to tell them how easy it is. Or maybe you have none, and you get to see what the process is like first hand! Either way, it’s exciting. However, with great power comes great responsibility. As the moral support your job is to support your friends experience, not make it harder or more difficult. So here’s a little guide to etiquette as the guest in the piercing room, so next time you go with someone you’ll be a professional hand holder!
It’s about the Piercee, and only about them
This should seem obvious, but the experience of getting a piercing is 100% focused on the client being pierced. Not the others in the room. That means making the experience about them. Being supportive is the biggest one. It may seem funny to tease someone “it’s really gonna hurt!?” “Oh my god look the needle is HUGE….just kidding!” But you never know how nervous someone is inside when they are getting pierced. Refrain from your usual sarcastic or teasing humor, even if it’s your really tough friend your words can still scare or stress someone out and they may not say anything. These jokes may seem funny, but more often then not I see them scare clients more than make them laugh.
Making it about their experience also means allowing them to have one. Talking over or interrupting the piercer when they are trying to communicate with the client can make it hard for the client to understand what’s going on. Save your questions or comments till after the procedure is over.
Respect the Studio Rules and the Piercers Comfort
If a studio only allows two people back, or one person back, be polite and respectful about that. If a studio doesn’t allow video or photos, don’t try to sneak some. If theres a no food or drink policy, please follow that. The rules and standards in a studio exist for everyones safety. We know sometimes the rules are boring, or annoying to follow, but we promise it’s for the clients best interest. As their friend, you are expected to follow the rules as well. A skilled piercer will also read the room and the client and may set their own expectations during the procedure. For example, I typically allow photos, but I’ll put my foot down and tell folks no if I can see the client is uncomfortable that photos are being taken. If a client is more focused on the photos then the piercing, they will often end up having a less then amazing experience. Likewise, piercers may make suggestions based off the clients anatomy, which differers person to person. For example, you may have been able to start your piercing off with a big, beautiful cluster. But with your friends anatomy they may need to keep things simple for healing. Respect the piercers judgement call, and know they have their clients best interests in heart. All bodies are different, just because something worked out for you, doesn’t mean it will work for your friend!
It's also worth noting that most piercing rooms have "red" areas or biohazard spaces where sharps containers and trash go. A piercer will let you know where you can place your things and where you can stand or sit, and please remain in those areas! Don't touch things you haven't been told are safe to touch, and as a rule of thumb if it's bright red or marked biohazard, stay away.
Personal Space is Important
When we are working on a client, we need a certain level of space to be able to work, and we may need to move around to get extra tools or supplies, or work at the right angle. As the moral support your hand holding may be needed, but that doesn’t give you the right to get directly up in the space where we are working. As a piercer it’s jarring to be in the middle of installing jewelry, and suddenly there is a phone directly in my way. Or I turn and someone is directly next to me. The piercer will let you know where you can safely stand to hold someone hand and be supportive, and we ask that you remain in that space and be respectful of the room we need to work and make sure the client’s piercing is perfect.
Peer Pressure is Lame
It’s one thing to be a hype man, and get your friend excited for their new piercing! But it’s something else altogether to pressure someone into being pierced, getting a specific placement, or moving at a speed the aren’t comfortable with. Unfortunately, I do see this often. You can be enthusiastic and encouraging, but remember it’s normal to be scared or nervous and theres no shame in it. Pressuring someone is only going to make their fear or anxiety around the piercing worse.
Tagging along for a piercing can be a super fun outing for friends, family, and partners. It’s a great way to bond, and have a lasting little sparkle to remind you of the day. But remember that piercing can bring out more nerves and stress then someone might expect! Being a good support system for that special person in your life getting poked can make or break their day, and their experience. Be the best professional hand holder you can be, by being respectful, polite, and aware of both the piercer and your friend when you are in the studio!