What is with those ridiculous looking ear plug things that make the lobes of your ears get bigger? The technique is called "stretching" or "gauging". I think it's ridiculous in the modern Western world. How in the world is this guy going to get a job?
Ear stretching has been practiced by people all over the world from ancient times. Bone , Horn , Wood and Stone were generally carved for ear stretching, but other organic materials that had the right shape naturally, from shells to teeth and claws, were also used.
Mummified bodies with stretched earlobes have been discovered, including the oldest mummified body discovered to date, that ofÖtzi the Iceman, (3300BC) which was found in an Italian glacier. This mummy had a stretch of somewhere between 7 - 11mm (1 to 000 gauge) in diameter. He also had tattoos. Notice the picture to the right - see how practical this is. The guy has a cup wherever he goes....very convenient. Does this mean that because people did it 1000's of years ago that we still need to do it? Uh, no....
In case you were curious as to how it's done = Stretching is usually done in small increments to minimize the potential for damaging the healed fistula or creating scar tissue. Normally you start with your typical 20 AWG piercing and go up (which is gauge or AWG sizes is actually reverse), so 18AWG is the next size up. If you stretch like this apparently you can go back when you realize how stupid you look and you can't get a job. The elasticity of your skin will allow it to spring back, not in a day though. It is also said that the 0 AWG (0.4 inches) is the point of no return. So if you get your hole big enough for a 0 gauge ring then you're stuck with that forever. Nice.