After five days of hand-wringing drama, we finally have a clear winner in the spirited national debate over the purpose of the plastic disk-shaped doohickey that we often see affixed to common earring backs. In an online poll conducted by NBC, viewers overwhelmingly agreed — by a margin of 92 to 8 — that the plastic part should stay on.
If you're wondering how earring backs became part of the national consciousness — and a trending topic on Mashable.com — you should look no farther than an August 1 tweet by Chelsea Smith, who in a moment of great clarity revealed she had spent her entire life wearing her earrings "wrong."
The 19-year-old posted two photos, one showing the earring back with the plastic disk intact, and the other showing the earring back with the disk removed. Her caption: “After my nineteen years of living I have now realized that you are supposed to take the plastic part off.”
Her comment, which was retweeted 45,000 times and favorited 43,000 times, churned up a tidal wave of commentary. Some Twitter users shared in Smith's embarrassing "aha" moment, while others explained that the disk is valuable — adding vital support for saggy earlobes. Still others were stuck in the middle, reporting that they attempted to remove the plastic part, but had no success at all.
Lifestyle and jewelry-industry experts told Today.com that the larger the earring back, the more stable and secure the earring will be. The larger disk back also improves comfort and wearability, especially with heavier earrings.
Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb of The Today Show joked about how the plastic disks make the backs easier to handle and harder to lose when they're inevitably dropped on the floor. What's more, the backs help prevent the earring holes from tearing or getting too large.
Comedian Julie Klausner got the biggest laugh during the segment when she chimed in from The Today Show kitchen that the plastic back is like "a bra for your earlobe. It keeps everything where it needs to be."
Gifford and Hotb encouraged their viewers to visit the show's website, where they could take a position in the great earring-back debates. A Today Show poll of 32,000 viewers quickly revealed that the vast majority believe the plastic disk should stay on.
When asked, "Do you keep the plastic backing on your earrings?" 92 percent agreed with the statement, "Yes, of course! It's supposed to be there to support the earring." A scant 8 percent said, "No, definitely not. The plastic is meant to come off."
Credits: Twitter/Chelsea Smith; Today.com