While purity rings honor and celebrate traditions that go back centuries – thousands of years, really – these pieces of jewelry specifically are only just about 30 years old or so.
It wasn’t until the early 1990s that people had even heard of a purity ring, and believe it or not the big push for this kind of jewelry – especially purity rings for girls – came from the White House and the President of the United States himself.
George HW Bush, the first President Bush, recognized that there was an epidemic sweeping the nation as far as STDs, STIs, and AIDS/HIV were concerned. Millions of young people in particular were affected by these insidious diseases, and the president (as well as the rest of his administration, and the general population – which is how purity rings got popular in the first place) were looking for something to do about it.
The idea was simple and straightforward – young people were to be encouraged to have sex later in life, to have sex with fewer partners, and to maintain their purity for as long as possible not only to honor cultural norms and traditions, but also to protect them from those sexually-transmitted diseases that were devastating the nation.
It’s uncertain exactly who came up with the idea for purity rings in particular, but that was the execution of this idea that really took hold just as soon as popular celebrities started to wear them.
A lot of the young Disney stars of that era (the late 1990s and early 2000’s) – Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, the Jonas Brothers, and more – were all photographed and documented wearing purity rings and almost all of them were asked about this piece of jewelry in nearly every single interview they conducted.
They really helped to popularize the idea of saving oneself for marriage with a younger generation and the impact of this influence is still being felt today. According to studies from the American CDC younger people are having less sex than any generation on record before, are waiting longer to lose their virginity, and are helping to push sexually-transmitted diseases and infections to their lowest levels ever recorded as well.
It’s a sure thing that these pieces of jewelry – these purity rings for girls and for boys – did a fair amount of the heavy lifting encouraging this next generation to wait a little longer than the generations before them.