As I was working on this series of posts, my son reminded me that one member of my family did have major objections to tattoos. Fortunately, when I got my first one, my mother lived clear on the other side of the country and could only raise objections over the long-distance telephone. (And she did!)
However, I had no idea my mom hated tattoos till I was past the point of no return. I was 46 and my mom was 67 at the time and I didn’t think I needed to consult with her first. She never stopped objecting to my tattoos (and commenting on how a lot of people she knew were getting them and she didn’t like that, either) but I didn’t let that stop me from going ahead with more. Age and distance do have their benefits.
However, for friends and family within much closer proximity I really don’t advise the “Tough beansies, it’s my body” approach. It’s vitally important to acknowledge that the other person’s (or people’s) opinion is just as valid as your own, and try to work out some kind of compromise. Naturally, as with all compromises, neither side will be entirely satisfied. But neither side should feel steamrollered, either.
Tattoos don’t have to be visible under normal everyday circumstances (and given how many employers’ dress codes forbid them, the inconspicuous placement is for the best). If your partner asks why you’d get ink that nobody’s going to know is there, of course the answer is that you yourself will know. You can start small, perhaps with a design on a shoulderblade that even a sleeveless shirt won’t reveal. Today’s artists can pack a lot of meaning into a small space. Talk with your artist and explain that you need to be accommodating to your partner’s objections. A good artist can help you find just the right design and placement.
What to do if your partner lays down a “It’s my way or the highway” ultimatum? There’s no clear answer to that, if you want the relationship to continue (and needless to say, it’s just as wrong to issue such an ultimatum yourself). Is a relationship where only one person’s feelings are valid worth continuing? In that case, there’s a lot more than just body art at stake.
Have you worked past someone’s major objections to body art? Care to share how it worked? I’m sure there are a lot of people who would like to know.