I don’t have a tattoo. My husband doesn’t either, except for the ones he got for his cancer treatment, and in my book, those don’t count. My parents don’t have tattoos. When I was growing up my parents attitude towards tattoos was something akin to, ” Tattoos are for other people. Not for our kids, who will go to college and be professionals.” I’m very delicately trying to say, my parents thought that tattoos were “beneath” us.
This is a continuation of my post from yesterday. If you didn’t read it, I would suggest that you check it out before reading this one. You can find it here.
Before you get all upset about that statement, remember I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. Gay people weren’t out of the closet. HIV and AIDS were a serious health problem and carried a huge stigma. And you could get them from the needles used to tattoo. Also remember, that getting my ears pierced took weeks of discussions (really loud discussions) between my parents before my dad finally agreed.
The general perception about tattoos has changed drastically. Honestly, I’m not sure of my parents’ opinions about tattoos. It hasn’t come up. But tattoos are very mainstream now. Up to a point.
A friend (AG) recently posted, on Facebook, that she had told her son he should get a tattoo for his upcoming 18th Birthday and he wasn’t all that interested. There was a bit of discussion about tattoos and a few parents voiced their opinions on the topic. I was one of them.
Most parents were supportive of their children getting tattoos. The discussion centered around counseling our kids about the placement and content of their tattoos – not that they shouldn’t get them. The feeling was very similar to my opinion about piercings: tattoos were fine, as long as they wouldn’t prevent them from pursuing a professional career in the future.
As a high school teacher, I’ve spoken to a number of students about tattoos. My advice is always the same: think hard about what you are getting and where you are getting it because your ideas and beliefs may change. How many people have gotten tattoos of the love of their life on their body, only to have the relationship fall apart? And I think of swastikas and other hate symbols that young people get tattooed on their bodies and later they change their ideas and no longer have the same hatred. And while tattoos are not necessarily permanent, the process of tattoo removal (as far as I understand) is long and expensive.
I’ve even thought about getting a tattoo myself. I get stuck on the what and where part, and that tells me that I’m not in a place where I should get one.
On Monday, I took my boys to the airport and waited with them at the gate. There was a lady sitting near us that was covered in tattoos. They were beautifully done, with vibrant colors. She had a tattoo of flowers on her forehead and down the side of her face. She had one ear tattooed and the other earlobe tattooed as the design came up from her neck. She was wearing a tank top and all of her exposed torso was covered with tattoos, as well as her arms.
She looked to be in her late 40’s – early 50’s and had very short grey hair. She was sitting with a man who was dressed conservatively (white button down dress shirt and dark dress pants with dress shoes).
I wanted to walk up to her and ask her about her tattoos, but I wondered if it would be rude. I wondered about her decision to get them, especially on her neck, forehead and ears, and if she had any regrets. I speculated, in my mind, the reasoning behind her decisions.
I would imagine that she was familiar with questions regarding her tattoos. I also imagine that she would not be offended with sincere, non-judgmental questions. But, I couldn’t bring myself to ask because, I think I may have judged her on her responses. And I didn’t want to do that. I truly respect her right to make decisions about her body. It is none of my business and it isn’t my place to judge.
However, I don’t agree with her decision to tattoo so much of her body, in places where it can’t be covered up. I don’t expect her to cover up in her daily life, but what about a black-tie event? Or a funeral? Maybe I still hold onto some of those old-fashioned ideas?
There is one more post to come on this topic – so watch for it. In the meantime, I would love for you to give me your opinions about tattoos.