"Someone needs to spill water on the universe" Those words form a halo around our weird little baby's head but don't throw her out with the bath water.
Body modification and alteration have long been practiced and some form exists in every culture today. Cutting, piercing, trimming, stretching, marking and otherwise adorning the human body have been done for a number of reasons from the spiritual to the sexual or even just the practical. Detractors have referred to a lot of these practices as mutilation but countless devotees have not stopped at that.
Tattooing and piercing are among the oldest and most popular of these practices. Tattooing always involves pressing inks and pigments into the skin with sharp needle but the delivery is not always the same. Sailors borrowed our modern name from the Polynesian "tautau" and Tahitian "tatu" and reintroduced it to Europeans. For many cultures they were a rite of passage marking them at a marriageable age or proving their masculinity. Tattoos hold deep significance and are often used to associate a person or tell a story. The Japanese Yakuza were noticeably tattooed and Russian prisoners held their own traditions.
Doug Malloy spread a great deal of misinformation in the 1960s and 70s attributing the famous Prince Albert as the inventor of the piercing of the same name and Roman Centurions attached their capes to their nipples. Despite the confusion over piercing's history it is clear that ear piercing is the oldest practice of this kind. Facial piercings became common in India and the ancient Middle East and lip and tongue piercing and stretching in African regions.
Whatever the reason, people all over will keep poking, stretching, and reshaping the human body.