What circumcision is for baby boys in some parts of the world, ear piercing is for baby girls in Latin America, according to a recent Op-Ed on NYTimes.com. In other words, you gotta do it, and you gotta do it early.
But the Latino practice of piercing girls' ears at a young age has come under scrutiny, running up against the norm for some non-Latinos in the U.S.
On parenting blog BabyZone.com, one mother of Cuban descent was taken aback to find out her Irish mother-in-law was concerned with her decision to pierce her daughters' ears at a young age.
"I had no idea it was such a sensitive topic. Not realizing the cultural differences at the time, I was at first insulted that she should take such a strong stand against something I considered to be natural, and a decision I had planned on making for my own daughter," Veronica Mullen of Tampa, Florida told blogger Stephanie Elliot.
Even writers for sitcoms like 30 Rock and Modern Family have taken notice, using the cultural difference for comedic fodder. On 30 Rock, when Jack Donaghy (played by Alec Baldwin) gets a Latina girlfriend (played by Salma Hayek), he begins to tell his colleagues to take some hints from Latino culture in order to find happiness.
"Surround yourself with people and love and babies with pierced ears," Jack tells Liz Lemon, who is played by Tina Fey.
And in a recent episode of Modern Family, Sofia Vergara's character Gloria, who is Colombian, invokes the wrath of fathers Mitchell and Cameron when she takes their daughter Lily to get her ears pierced at an early age.
"To pierce or not to pierce" is a question that is still troubling some Latina moms, especially those who have faced criticism from their non-Latino counterparts.
Diana Oliva Cave, in an opinion piece for Univision's English-language Tumblr, writes that she was appalled to read the comments left on Eleni Gage's NYTimes.com Op-Ed on the question.
"Apparently, Ms. Gage and I are “horrible,” “selfish,” “low class,” anti-feminist jerks for putting our daughters through something as stupid and painful as ear piercing," Cave wrote.
"Really? I just thought I was being Cuban," she added.
Cave brought her baby daughter to the doctor to get her ears pierced, and even documented the experience in the video below. She notes in her blog post that experience made her briefly question her prior assumptions.
"There is definitely something a little tough about watching your child endure any pain -– whether it be from ear piercing, vaccinations or falling down when learning to walk. I did have some second thoughts," she wrote.
What do you think?