When my daughter was about 8 years old, she was fascinated with those temporary tattoos that every kid wants. It is probably every parent’s worst nightmare to have their child tell them that they want a tattoo; however, being the sort of laid-back parent I was when this happened to me I didn’t panic. There were years before my daughter would be legally old enough to get a tattoo and chances are she would grow out of it.
I thought I had done my bit by informing her on the seriousness of getting a tattoo. She could not wake up one morning and decide she didn´t want it, it would be there to stay. Yet none of that seemed to have any effect so I also played the ‘heavy’ and said that if she ever had one she would be leaving home in double quick time. You can therefore imagine how horrified I was, following a typical mum and teenage argument to be shown this monstrosity on her arm which she had managed to hide for several months since having it done as an 18th birthday present.
In the early 1990s, I was part of the age group where it was common to loath tattoos. I associated the people who had them with criminal gangs, bikers, drug users, dropouts and rock stars. Yet my daughter wasn´t any of these: (although she did go on to experiment with drugs for a time). Like many teenagers and college students who have tattoos, she was a high achiever but at the time, all I could visualise was young and stupid. As you would expect my perception of tattooed women was sexually promiscuous and low class, her perception was she saw it as a way to assert her independence.
Over the years, my daughter has added to her body art. As a mother, I saw this as a form of self-mutilation but talking to her and others, I no longer think this is the case. Many young women see tattoos as a way to define themselves. Their tattoos used to be in hidden areas, such as the hip or lower back but as popularity has increased, so has visibility. While the images have traditionally remained feminine, these once discrete flowers and hearts are now more prominently displayed on arms, legs and even facially and everyone is now a Painted Lady or a Dragon Warrior
Tattoos can carry a stigma and can provoke discrimination, however following the influence of media and consumer culture; they are getting more popular as the years go by. When influential celebrities sporting their tattoos appeared in shows like Miami Ink, more and more people, of various age groups and social backgrounds, chose to follow their idols’ and enter the tattoo studio and prove that tattoo artist as well as people who get tattoos are not bad just independent.
Times have changed and tattoos are no longer the taboo they once were and people who hate them need to get over it. After all 1 in 4 people have a tattoo. It is, therefore, safe to say that tattoos aren’t going to go away. So if your child wants a tattoo no matter what you say, they will get one when they legally can. It is better as a parent to be involved in this life changing experience than to have them turn a single drunken decision into a lifetime of regret.
Since visiting exhibitions and events such as Custom Carnage UK I have found the people who sport tattoos are open, friendly and despite appearances (sometimes to the contrary), certainly no threat. These days the ones I dislike most are those who think that a tattoo points towards the downward spiral of our society, when as we all know altering one’s physical appearance is the least significant way to differentiate yourself from others. If they wish to appear “righteous” perhaps they should just remember the old saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”