Of all the milestones in a child’s life — like walking, talking, and riding a bike — there are some big moments that tend to go by almost unnoticed. Thanks to one inspiring father in North Carolina, however, there was one such moment that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
On September 8th, Adam Baker posted a remarkable story on Facebook about his daughter, Adelaide, getting her ears pierced. The post, which has been shared 15,000 times and counting, shows a sweet picture of the birthday girl with a dot on her ear where there was supposed to be a hole.
“This is the unpierced ear of a newly 8-year-old girl who has been talking about getting her ears pierced for over a month now,” the post reads. “She’s been very excited. After picking out her earrings, getting into the chair, and as her ears were being prepped, her smile vanished. Instead of excitement, there was fear. Tearful, she apologized and said, ‘I don’t want to do it.’ But, beloved, there is no apology necessary. You alone get to determine what anyone else does to your body.”
That’s right. This brave little girl, who was likely feeling social pressure to fit in, as well as pressure to follow through with her appointment as she sat in the chair, stopped everything and voiced her truth that she simply wasn’t ready to get her ears pierced.
While this story may, on the face of it, seem rather tame — after all, we’re only talking about ears being pierced — the fact that an 8-year-old girl felt safe enough to speak up on behalf of her own body is incredible and inspiring. I’d be lying if I said that Baker’s post didn’t make me choke up with tears.
Baker says that initially, his daughter was looking forward to getting her ears pierced.
“In the month leading up to her eighth birthday, Adelaide had become increasingly excited and focused upon having her ears pierced for her birthday,” Baker tells Babble. “She frequently asked for details about the process, and we spent a lot of time watching Youtube videos of 8-year-olds getting their ears pierced.”
However, the day she was supposed to get them done, Baker explains to Babble that a series of events had all come together in his mind to help solidify the true meaning of consent, making this particular event with his daughter so important.
“The piercer and Jenn, her mother, were talking with her about what was going to happen, and I watched Adelaide become increasingly nervous,” Baker tells Babble. “She made eye contact with me across the room and I watched tears well up in her eyes. At that point, she began to apologize, saying again and again, ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t want to do it.’ She was apologizing for not wanting something to happen to her that others were going to do to her!”
Moments before that exchange, Baker had overheard two female baristas talking among themselves about feeling creeped out by a man who had just been leering at them while making sexually suggestive comments. Stories of sexual assault that are shared in the news and podcasts in the wake of the #MeToo movement suddenly took on a whole new meaning for Baker.
So that’s when Baker decided to speak up, too.
“I found myself loudly, clearly saying, ‘If she doesn’t want to do this, she doesn’t have to do it — it’s her body, and it’s her decision. We can always come back later if she decides that she wants this, but it’s her choice.’ I sensed the importance of this statement and this moment with my daughter, and she almost flew off the chair, coming over to me and hugging me for a long time. My wife came over afterward, a bit teary herself, telling me that she loved me.”
Baker and his wife, who are both clinical counselors, are working hard to raise emotionally intelligent, caring, and kids (three girls and one boy). Their amazing story of “un-piercing ears” has attracted a huge and mostly positive response online.
“It’s strange, because I don’t think that what I did was that unique, or at least it shouldn’t be,” says Baker. “I simply listened to a woman in my life whom I love, and encouraged others to heed her stated desires in regard to her own body. The only thing that made it different from the support that many fathers and mothers offer to their children is that I came home and felt a need to post about it on Facebook, trying to encourage others to also listen to their children and emphasize the importance of consent.”
As a mom of three, I applaud the Bakers doing an incredible job raising kids who aren’t afraid to speak up. Well done!