claire's storefront
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Whenever we're unsatisfied with service we've received, or feel that we or others are being treated unfairly, it's a common practice to reach out to the powers that be. However, often times those complaints and concerns fall upon deaf ears and there's little to no change made in common policies or practices. That's where the power of social media comes to play. 

So when a former Claire's employee was furious about the brand's longtime ear piercing policy, she took to Facebook after her feelings of uneasiness were disregarded. The result has been a viral call to action evaluating just how many rights to their bodies children have. There's no word if her concerns have once again fallen upon deaf ears again, but one thing is for sure: Something needs to change

An extremely concerned former Claire's employee, Raylene Marks, penned an open letter to the company urging it to adjust its rules and policies toward its most popular service: ear piercing. 

"I am a former employee of one of your Edmonton, Alberta area Claire's locations," she began. "I didn’t mind piercing the ears of children who were excited to get new earrings, but nervous about the procedure. I’d do what I could to put them at ease. I had a couple 'gray area' piercings, though; piercings where the children resisted heavily, were pressured and intimidated by the parents into settling down, and the children weren't happy with what had happened even after the earrings were in place and the standard lollipop had been dispensed." 

She began the story with some background of a 7-year-old girl who visited the store with her mother. 

"A seven year old girl came in to Claire's with her mother to get her ears pierced. I was to assist with the piercing, since it was what we call a 'double,' both ears at the same time. It's reserved for nervous kids who might change their mind after the first earring goes in. The girl pleaded and sobbed for thirty minutes not to be pierced," Marks wrote.

She immediately expounded on how uncomfortable the girl was. 

"She expressed that she didn't want us touching her, that we were standing too close, that she was feeling uncomfortable. She made it clear she no longer wanted to get her ears pierced. She begged, over and over again, for Mom to please, just take her home. That child's message was loud and clear to me: Do not touch my body, do not pierce my ears, I do not want to be here."

After the young girl and her mother left without the piercing, Marks said a conversation between her and her manager didn't go as planned. 

"The next day at work, my manager asked about the previous day. I explained the child that refused the piercing and begged to be left alone, and I told my manager that I would not have been able to pierce that little girl's ears if Mom had insisted on it," she shared. "I was firmly told, 'You would have had no choice but to do it.'" 

After asking for clarity, her manager's answer remained the same. 

Marks reportedly asked her manager: "So if a mother is physically restraining her daughter, holding her down and saying, 'DO IT,' while that little girl cries and asks me not to, do I do the piercing?'" Her manager's alleged response? "Yes, you do the piercing."

The next day, Marks resigned from her position. 

"I gave my notice that day," she wrote. "I had a choice between facing disciplinary actions (that would eventually lead to my termination) the next time I refused to pierce the ears of children who withdrew their consent, or leaving on my own terms. I chose the latter."

After thinking that corporate would provide a different viewpoint, Marks was once again left disappointed. 

"Our District Sales Manager confirms this policy is correct: Children can be held down and pierced. Children do not have a voice in the piercing process. The associate doing the piercing has no right to refuse to shoot metal through the ears of a child who begs not to be touched."

However, she says that the official Claire's policy does not specify for situations such as the one Marks was in. 

"[Claire's] Policies and Procedures Manual offers only one policy, Policy 509, on the right to refuse a piercing. It is this: 'We reserve to the right to refuse an ear piercing if a successful one cannot be done.' There is no mention of the use of physical restraint by the parent, or the employee’s right to refuse an ear piercing if their concerns are for the emotional welfare of the child," Marks shared. 

Marks proceeded to say that she stands by her decision and feels that the rules set in place completely violate a child's rights. 

"I believe in upholding a child’s right to bodily integrity at all costs, and I will not be an adult that commits an indignity to a child. Kids who don’t want to endure the discomfort and pain of the procedure should not be forced to because a paying adult comes in, claims to be the legal guardian and insists upon the ear piercing. I cannot be part of a company that teaches a child that their right to say, 'NO,' to invasive non-medical contact can be so easily overridden by an adult, and moreover, that they're supposed to accept that."

She finished with a call of action not only to Claire's, but also to its patrons. 

"So I implore you now, as does everyone who shares this letter--Be better," she concluded. "Be accountable. Know what’s going on in your stores, and do something about it. And until you do, myself and perhaps many others have no interest in shopping at Claire’s and helping fund what we believe to be a cruel practice. Our children deserve better. Please do better by them." 

As of April 13, Marks had only received one correspondence from the company on April 8, however, the brand told Refinery29 that there is an active investigation into the incident.