Not everyone likes tattoos. (Wow, talk about a revelation, hmm?) And a lot of people who don’t like tattoos are not shy about saying so.
What happens if you’re a multicolored person in a tattoo-hating family? What happens if you’ve got a parent or sibling who is bound and determined to tell you off about what you did to yourself? When you’ve got a lifetime of actions and reactions built up, how do you get past all that and explain what the other person can’ t seem to understand?
I think the person who comes up with a definitive answer to that will make a fortune. Needless to say, I’m not the one. Not yet, anyway.
As I’ve mentioned, I first got the idea of getting a tattoo when I was 16. I already had a pretty good idea of how my parents felt about things like that (they didn’t want me to get my ears pierced, for one thing). Little did I know that 40 years later when I finally got my first real tattoo, my mother would still feel the same way.
Good thing I was in Los Angeles and she was in Georgia when it happened, that’s all I can say. She happened to call me the day I got my tattoo. Maybe I shouldn’t have waited till the end of the conversation to just casually slip that fact into the discussion. But I suspect she would have hit the roof no matter what.
Now, granted, my mom’s in her seventies, and in her day, tattoos were more a matter of soldiers, sailors and Lady Luck. I can see not being thrilled at the idea of your daughter coming home from some scummy dockside place with a busty babe, dice and a winning poker hand inked into her arm. And it wasn’t as though I’d ever, oh, mentioned that I wanted a tattoo in all those years. So her “You did WHAAAAAAAT?” was understandable.
But in the ten years since then, my mother hasn’t changed her mind one bit. She didn’t even want to look at my ink. Not even the multicolored Chinese dragon that I designed in honor of her mother. She doesn’t like tattoos. End of story. At least I’m old enough to give myself permission to get them. And now that tattoo parlors require people to be of legal age in order to get inked, the issue of getting a reluctant parent to give permission shouldn’t come up any more. That doesn’t mean that one’s relatives won’t raise a fuss if they feel strongly about the issue, though.
Whether to consult with family members beforehand or present them with a fait accompli is best left to individual discretion. One does have to consider whether the tattoo is worth long-term family animosity, though. In some cases it might be better to wait and give people a chance to get used to the idea. Or make sure the tattoo is applied to an area that can be easily and completely hidden from view for as long as necessary.
However, in my case there was an amusing postscript to the parental reaction. A year or so after I got my first tattoo, I found a web site that would let me send off for photocopies of the paperwork my great-grandfather signed when he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in WWI. When the papers arrived, I discovered two things. One, his handwriting and his daughter’s (my mother’s mother’s) was nearly identical. And two, he had three tattoos, one of which was a dragon.
I called my mother and told her this. “It’s genetic,” I said, “and it’s all your fault.” 🙂I hope you'll submit my posts to your favorite social media sites. Just don't "submit" them to your own site pretending to be yours. Thanks!