It is not an uncommon practice to pierce a baby girl’s ears from a very early age. I think the first time that I was told that I needed to get Alia’s ears pierced she would have been maybe 3 weeks old. Considering that I don’t have my ears pierced I didn’t feel that it was necessary to rush out and get Alia’s done whilst she is still a baby.
I have subsequently learnt that pierced ears are not just for beautification. They are in fact THE ONLY way of distinguishing the gender of a baby. At the end of October we celebrated Eid al-Adha. Local custom is too dress up in new outfits and spend the day visiting and receiving family and friends. I had a cute outfit for Alia consisting of a little pink dress with pink jacket, pink pants, pink hat and to top it all off had her wrapped in a pink blanket as it as a bit cold out on the day.
We were visiting at a relatives house and at the same time we were there, there was also some other people visiting. I didn’t know the other family that were visiting and gathered that Atef only knew them through association. I was listening in on the conversation between Atef’s Uncle and the other man. The man asked Atef’s uncle if Alia was a boy or a girl. Atef’s uncle replied that she was a girl. The man said are you sure as she doesn’t have her ears pierced.
I had to stop myself from laughing out loud. Here was my little girl dressed head to toe in pink, but her gender was in question because she didn’t have earings!