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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 12:46 GMT
What's that in Scarlett's ear?
The Magazine answers...

Scarlett Johansson
Over ear: Scarlett and (inset) her tragus
Hollywood darling Scarlett Johansson has been flaunting an earring in her tragus - that flap at the front of the ear. What does it say about a person?

The tragus is the new belly button in the world of piercing, apparently. And with Scarlett Johansson very visibly showing hers off in promotions and posters for the new Woody Allen film Match Point, it could become more mainstream yet.

Piercing the tough part of cartilage that covers the opening of the ear canal is becoming increasingly popular.

It is even rivalling the belly-button ring - whose fans include Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera - when it comes to the most requested piercing. But Scarlett Johansson's choice might been seen as a bold choice in a profession where conforming to a certain image is everything.


It is done using surgical clamps and a needle and should always be done by a professional. Painful as that sounds, piercers say it does not hurt very much because there are few nerve ending in that part of the ear.

So what does tragus piercing say about a person - fashion victim or something much deeper?

"The number of people getting their tragus pierced has really grown over the past few years, it is viewed as something slightly unusual, " says a spokesman for Primitive Origins, a piercing and tattoo studio in London.

"But people try and read too much into piercings. They do make a statement, but they are transient and can be taken out at any point. There is far more psychology behind tattooing because it is permanent."

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Ear piercing has existed for thousands of years and was often used as a way of communication.

The Romans associated ear piercing with wealth and luxury, while ancient South American and African tribes pierced and stretched ears to show their social standing.

Nowadays piercing is still a way of communicating something about a person, according to Phillip Hodson, a Fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

"It is largely a fashion statement but it is also a bit of flag, sending out a message about the person," he says.


"There are a mix of motives behind body piercing but it can be a way of people wanting to express themselves, as opposed to taking the received wisdom of what is acceptable."

But by proclaiming their individuality with piercings they are just associating themselves with another group, he says.

"It is not true individuality. That is when you just say 'here I am, but it's up to you to find out who I am'."

So Ms Johansson might be making a statement about being different from the average Hollywood actress, but she is doing it in the safest way possible.

My wife has no piercings at all, not even her ears. This, it seems, is far more individual than having piercings. Personally I dislike piercings (and tattoos). But it does mean I can't buy my wife earings as an easy Christmas present!
Wil Ker, UK

I have had a tragus piercing for a while now, for no other reason than I wanted it. Analysing a persons actions to such a depth and believing a piece of metal allows one to express themselves is ridiculous. Is whether or not someone has a slightly unusual piercing really that important? I doubt it
Amy Gibson, UK

Is is that new or unusual??? As my partner would say "been there, done that". He pierced his himself over ten years ago! Since then I have seen quite a few people with their tragus pierced.
Sarah, Cornwall

I used to have a tragus piercing along with various other bits of stainless steel through various parts of my face and ears. it really wasn't about fashion or making a statement but more about that period of my life. Needless to say mother didn't aprove at first and assumed that whilst at uni I had started taking drugs or mixing with the wrong crowd. When she realised it wasn't this at all and i was still a sober, teatotal, studious me she realised it was "just a phase". I now work in the City where such atire would not be apreciated, so apart from a few tiny scars there is little to show for my wisdom gained through this experience, or should I say very little to see above my white, city boy collar!
Andy, London, UK

With everyone getting piercings, surely the biggest statement would be to have none at all, not even normal earrings. Any guesses on when the backlash will happen?
jof, UK

Does anyone really give a stuff is someone wants a hole in a part of their body that never had a hole in it at birth. This obsession with 'Celebrity' and the marketing b*ll***s that goes with it, is just that, it is marketing, good old fashioned publicity stunts, and people think that it is interesting..
Alan Gifford, England

Funny how all those who want to be different do the same things as each other .
Andrew Torrance, Wales UK

Why does she have to be 'making a statement', or 'trying to show she is different from other Hollywood actresses'? Why always over-analyse? Maybe she just thought it would look good?

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