Sissy Sheridan, a 16-year-old actor and host of a Nickelodeon web series called DIY With Me, recently shared a video to her popular TikTok channel in which she's crying and distressed. She said that on Sunday, an employee at Icing by Claire's pierced a mask she was wearing to her ear.
She told BuzzFeed News that she got her ears pierced at an Icing by Claire's store in Sterling, Virginia, near where she lives.
Sissy and her mother, Leisa, provided several videos and photos showing the strap of her mask still lodged in the back of her ear — even after they tried to cut around it.
They said they provided the same images to the district manager and asked for a full refund but were told they would have to remove the earring and return it to the store in order to receive a refund.
Sissy told BuzzFeed News she was nervous and excited to get a third earring on each ear when she went into the store with her mother and a close friend over the weekend. She wore two masks to be extra cautious.
"I’m wearing two masks because one covered more than the other. The blue one didn’t cover as much, and I knew the woman [doing the piercing] would be pretty close to me," she said.
"She does the first one, which is the right ear, and that was the one [she got] the mask stuck in," she said. "I had no idea. I’m just sitting in the chair. I didn’t feel anything. There was no sign the mask had been punctured in the ear."
Sissy said she was "already kind of worked up" because she didn't like the placing of the piercing. So when they got into their car to go home, she was distraught when she realized her blue mask might have been pierced into her right ear.
"[My mask] won't come off, so I thought it might have gotten stuck behind my ear or hair. I was like, mom, can you help me get it off? She’s trying to get it out. I’m like, oh my god, did she pierce the mask in my ear?"
"She’s trying to keep me calm. Now I’m hysterically sobbing," said Sissy. She added that her right ear was in a lot of pain at this point.
Thinking "this is crazy" and "what a COVID-19 horror story," she decided to share what happened on TikTok, where she has nearly 3 million followers.
Most viewers were horrified. Some said while they "feel bad" for her, they also couldn't help but laugh. On Monday, Sissy said she sees the humor in what happened to her.
"This is funny — what are the odds this happens?"
She said she had to "fold her ears forward" so her mom could take scissors and cut around the actual piercing. As it's only been a day, her right lobe is still swollen and in pain, and because the piercing gun attaches the earring very tightly, she's unable to take it out. She wants to wait a few days for the swelling to go down.
She and her mom now want Icing to issue them a full refund for the $73 piercing, but the store manager won't issue it unless they return the earring.
"Her ear is obviously swollen and painful. ... I do not want to pull the earring out while the cotton is still in her ear," Leisa told BuzzFeed News. "I am shocked that they are arguing about the refund when they were clearly negligent."
Carmen Sandy, the manager of the store where the mishap took place, confirmed to BuzzFeed News that she spoke with Sissy and Leisa and reiterated the company policy.
"She needs to bring the earring back and come into the store. I’ll replace it for her [with] a full earring, but she didn’t want to hear it," said Sandy. "If she’s unhappy, she needs to call corporate."
Sandy said they do not reuse earrings and that they must "damage" the used earring in order to refund customers.
A spokesperson for Claire's corporate headquarters told BuzzFeed News they are investigating the incident and "will take appropriate corrective action, including offering Sissy and her mom a full refund."
Sissy does not want the Icing employee who did her piercing to get in trouble. "I don’t want anything happening to her; this was a freak accident," she said.
She does, however, want everyone to reassess how reopened businesses should be run and if they should have been reopened so soon.
"In Virginia, the masks are mandatory. It’s ignorant to ask someone to take their mask off for something so minor as an ear piercing," she said. "Maybe they should stop with piercings right now."