Tuesday, March 11, 2008

#61: Nose Rings

Nose rings hold an interesting place in the Indian community. According to the practices of Ayurvedic medicine, nose ring piercings on either the right or left nostril (depending on your location and beliefs) positively affect the health and fecundity of the female reproductive organs. In the 16th century Indian culture also valued the nose ring as both a mark of beauty and an homage to the goddess Parvathi.

In America, however, nose rings carry the same connotation as other non-ear piercings. They are symbols of rebellion and counter-cultural behavior often associated with hippies and punks.

This creates a paradox of identity for the Indian girl in America. On the one hand, if she gets a nose ring, other Indians will presume she has been co-opted by American anti-authoritarian individuality. She will then have to play up the nose ring's traditional relevance to Indian culture.

On the other hand, if she gets a nose ring, white girls will think she did so because she is a traditional Indian girl who seriously commits to all the tenets of her upbringing. She will then have to play up the nose ring's rebellious connotations to re-affirm in her friends' eyes that she is in fact a bad ass.

Therefore, if you are an Indian and your Indian friend gets a nose ring, be sure to tell her how nice and organic it looks. If you are non-Indian and your Indian friend gets a nose ring, be sure to tell her how hard it makes her seem. Then buy her an Ani DiFranco CD and smile when she shows you her "art".