All the Bad B-tches Have Belly Button Piercings

The infamous Y2K trend is making a comeback with millennials, Gen Z, and their favorite celebrities.

Graphic design art showing a woman’s belly with navel piercing and two belly button jewelry next to it. Yellow water color element in the background.
(Image credit: Future / Getty Images)

There were certain ubiquitous markers of a Bad Bitch™️ in the '90s and early 2000s. She had highlights. She wore choker necklaces. She listened to Mariah Carey. Her parents were probably divorced. She rocked a "Rachel" haircut inspired by Jennifer Aniston or microbraids inspired by Brandi. She liked low-rise jeans and crop tops. And of course, she had a belly button ring—the ultimate signifier of an It Girl.

Every early aughts celebrity who kept US Weekly in business wore one: Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Beyoncé, Jessica Alba, Christina Aguilera, even Dennis Rodman. Spears specifically carried the trend into the 21st century with her I’m a Slave 4 U performance during the 2001 VMAs, where she donned a tiny bra, even tinier shorts, a massive abdominal ring, and a live albino python (of course).

But the maximalist Y2K aesthetic eventually faded into the more normcore nature of the 2010s and time took belly button piercings with it, until now. Like low-rise jeans, chunky highlights, and claw clips, navel rings—the popular staple of the naughties hotties—are making a major comeback. Gen Z is jumping on the look. Millennials are embracing the style of our youth and quite literally opening up some old wounds while we’re at it. One nation—read: two contending generations—united under an infamous cultural trend.

Lindsay Lohan, Beyonce, Britany Spears with belly button piercings

Beyoncé, Lindsay Lohan, and Britney Spears with their early-2000s belly button piercings.

(Image credit: Future / Getty Images)

Fashion cycles take around 20 years to circle back, so the resurgence is right on time. Gen Z’s favorite celebrities—the ones who currently keep PopCrave in business—have all dabbled in the particular body modification. Rapper Ice Spice, singer Tyla, Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, TikToker turned Kardashian bestie turned singer Addison Rae, Billie Eilish, and Doja Cat have all recently worn belly button piercings.

But it’s not just the pop girlies modifying their midriffs. Belly button rings were a street style staple of 2023 fashion week. Julia Fox showed off hers while wearing a dark, sheer Courrèges dress with a tiny belly button cut-out to help accentuate the accessory. A pregnant Vanessa Hudgens also showed off her belly button ring at the Vanity Fair Oscars Party this year—more moms in their hot girl era! Gone are the days of the previously popular–and arguably problematic–“clean girl aesthetic” of 2022, which has been usurped by its antithesis, the messy girl aesthetic. Grunge glamour, smudged makeup, and messy hair took over the runway during New York Fashion Week's fall 2024 season. There is a distancing from fashion trends that feel sterile and stiff. And if Charli XCX’s viral 360 music video starring everyone’s favorite Internet It Girls taught us anything, it’s that all black is everything, grunge girls are back, and Chloe Sevigny will always look cool smoking a cigarette.

Belly button piercings fit neatly into the current cultural zeitgeist, mirroring the early aughts: Alt is in. More is more. Pants are low. Tops are tiny. It Girls are It again. Since I am not an It Girl—only an aspiring one—I spoke to a few friends who took a leap of faith on their lower abdomen.

Belly button piercings fit neatly into the current cultural zeitgeist, mirroring the early aughts: Alt is in. More is more. Pants are low. Tops are tiny. It Girls are It again.

Editor and organizer Fran Tirado, 31, got her belly button pierced in January of 2023 and tells me she never looked back. Despite growing up alongside the trend, this was Fran’s first foray into navel piercings. “To me, the belly ring was a symbol of my own emerging doll rite of passage to dress five to ten years younger than I am. I will never turn my back on my belly piercing and hope to keep this in until I’m an old crone on Riis Beach.”

Some It Girls like Fran are new to this, but some are true to this. For host, hottie, and TikTok star Tefi Pessoa, who got her belly button pierced when she was 18, the trend never left. The now 33-year-old tells me, “I watched Domino with Keira Knightley and she had her lower belly button pierced. What more reason does a person need, really? It’s kind of like a love letter to the Y2K era I grew up in.” When I presume she’s battled many an infection—at the very least some swelling—she assures me, “It’s never been infected ever thank GOD but if it did I would never take it out regardless.” Stronger than the troops.

Six months ago, Pessoa got a “tramp stamp” on her lower back to accompany the decade-long piercing. I mean it when I say we really are so back.

Software engineer Lex Spirtes got her belly button pierced last year at 28. The reason was simple. “I love having my tummy out and wanted a bit of a slutty sparkle to finish off any outfit.” When asked about her thoughts on the cultural resurgence she tells me, “[Belly button rings] feel like the perfect sister to the tramp stamp. I’m happy that the 2000s bling and levity is here to stay.”

Ice Spice, Tyla on a backdrop wearing belly button piercings

The next generation of belly button piercing fans includes Ice Spice and Tyla.

(Image credit: Future / Getty Images)

My hot friend Emon Abdullah, 27, pierced her belly button at 15, a rite of passage for many underaged girls with rebellious spirits and access to TRL. “I desperately wanted to look sluttier and even more I desperately needed to do something behind my parents’ back,” she says. Unlike Pessoa, Abdullah’s piercing was “constantly infected” and she’s since left the belly button bling ring life behind. Noting, “The day I got it pierced is the one singular time I have fainted.”

Other Gen Zers are entering the chat only recently but with the same eagerness. Hadley Goodman, 25, got her belly button pierced on New Year’s Eve 2024 saying, “I wanted one [because] they’re hot, obviously.” Reason enough. Mikayla Sincavage, 26, pierced her navel back in 2022 alongside—you guessed it—a lower back tattoo. “Deep down I always wanted a belly button piercing because I loved pop culture when I was younger and all the cool girls had them at the time… The healing time was slightly brutal.” The egregious healing time (which can take up to a year) the high risk of infection, and the forever hole? A canon event.

If you are hesitant to commit to the belly button piercing’s resurgence, there are plenty of fake belly rings littered across TikTok shop. And at the very least you can invest in saline solution stock because I promise you it’s going up.

This story is part of Piercing Is All Grown Up, a package exploring the trends, artists, and brands shaping piercing today. You can read all five stories here.

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Peyton Dix

Peyton Dix is a Brooklyn-based writer, digital consultant, and co-host of the podcast Lemme Say This.