I always receive the same two questions whenever someone comments on my septum ring: “Did it hurt?” and “How do you blow your nose with it?” Yes, it hurt, but not as badly as you might think. I blow my nose like anyone else, and allergy season is the literal worst. But at the end of the day, I love the pesky piece of metal hanging from my nose.
Septum piercings are not what they once used to be. While they have been popular in the punk rock scene for a while now, the piercing is breaking into the mainstream and starting to be worn by more and more Northwestern students. Over the last year, a growing number of students are showing off a diverse range of nose jewelry, including everything from circular barbells to ornate seamless rings.
The changing stigma around septum rings may represent a broader trend of acceptance for body modification, at least for certain professional fields. Many employers consider certain piercings and tattoos inappropriate for a professional work environment, which is why the septum may be popular – certain styles can be concealed by flipping them up into the nose. Yet it's no coincidence that septum piercings are uncommon at NU and the students who do have them major in the liberal arts.
This stigma has not changed until recently, though. Collin Rice, a School of Communications senior, has had his septum pierced for a little over a year and says the piercing started gaining prominence with the high fashion scene.
“It’s trendy among fashion circles. You see a lot of runway collections with huge jewelry that’s been pretty big in the last couple of years,” Rice said.
Once the septum ring became a hot item in high fashion, it made its way to the noses of high profile celebrities. Lucy Blumberg, a Weinberg junior, points to artists like FKA twigs and Rihanna (hers was fake, but still looks cool) for the rising popularity of septum piercings.
“I think it’s interesting to see how [piercings] come and go, because this used to be like an intense bullring and now it’s become a little more fashionable,” she said.
While some people like septum piercings because of their delicate, ornate look, Weinberg freshman Jayleen James argues they still give the wearer a certain edge.
“I think it gives everyone an alternative look. It's a very punk thing and that's how it represents a lot of people,” James said.
For these students, body jewelry is a way to add to their appearance while expressing their individualism. It’s a way of distinguishing themselves from Northwestern’s general style and appearance, which they described as “modern day preppy,” “drab” and “bland”.
“In general, there aren’t a lot of people pushing boundaries or doing exciting things with their appearance,” Blumberg said.
Who knows how long the septum fad will last. But more importantly, what will come next? James hopes the eyebrow piercing will gain popularity, while Blumberg roots for the medusa (center upper lip) and nipple piercings. Only time will tell.