I love tattoos. As a visual person, I find a lot of beauty in tattoos. I think tattoos are a form of art. I can find many justifications for having a tattoo. Much like most women (and some men) use makeup to make themselves look pretty, I can understand having a tattoo to look pretty. Although today, I will not get any piercing to damage my body, I can still remember that when I was younger, I decided to have a second piercing in one of my ears (my ears had each been pierced once by our neighbor when I was about 7 or 8 years old).
Still, I have to say it scares me to think of my kids getting a tattoo. I imagine their soft skin that I bathed and touched being damaged and it really frightens me to think that people damage their skin to look pretty.
When Eden was a baby, I wrote her a life diary with her photo album and wrote her a long, long, book-size letter with a huge message. I knew that in-between the words, I needed to write the biggest message of all. My message was, “Never ever hurt yourself to gain someone else’s attention”.
After Eden was born, I had the first opportunity to examine my life and the lives of those around me and I discovered that all of us do things to gain other people’s attention, love, acceptance, trust and respect and that we do it even if it means hurting ourselves. I decided I would examine my real motives for everything I did. Did I do it for myself or to please someone else?
Tattoos are a very sensitive topic. If you ask every person that wants to carve their skin and damage their body beyond repair on their motives, they will always say, “I like it!” or “It’s beautiful”, and I believe them. Some tattoos are amazingly beautiful. What I do not understand is having a beautiful tattoo that you cannot enjoy, because you put them on your neck or on your back and you cannot see them.
The problem with kids wanting a tattoo is that kids cannot imagine the future. They cannot imagine a time when their dazzling tattoo will become a problem. Unlike piercing in your ears, your nose or even your tongue, which you can hide by taking the jewelry out when you go to an interview or a tiny braid in your hair that you can cut off just before your wedding, tattoos are permanent and you cannot just make them disappear.
This week, some people told me their tattoo stories and I thought these would be good to share with you and other parents.
One of my clients is preparing for her daughter’s wedding. She is very skilled with the sewing machine, so he is making the dresses for her daughter and the bridesmaids. The couple is gorgeous and has have been living together for a long time. In recent years, they have both found a passion for nature and have dedicated every second of their time to growing organic fruits and vegetable. The theme they had for their wedding was nature. Unfortunately, 4 years ago, not predicting that this would be her passion, her daughter decided to have a huge tattoo on her shoulder. Her mom said, “Maybe not so big, honey. Maybe get it in a hidden place that you can cover”, but her daughter went and got at big one anyway.
All is well, except the daughter’s dream was to have a strapless white wedding dress and she cannot. The tattoo does not match the nature theme or the white dress and she is extremely frustrated. The wedding is happening soon and everyone is offering ways to cover the tattoo – a scarf, a sleeve or heavy makeup – but she feels all the options are compromise.
Parents can help before, not after.
The other person I met was a manager in a very big company. One of his employees is a wonderful woman who is doing a wonderful job. She is a mother of two young kids and every day of the year, she comes to work wearing long sleeves. 15 years earlier, as a rebellious teen, she had many tattoos all over her body. When she left school, she discovered no one wanted to give her a job and was convinced it was because she lacked education. She went to university and got a degree with high grades. When she looked for a job again, no one wanted to employ her and she ended up working for a temporary recruitment agency for many years, shifting from one job to another that kept her employed from 1 week up to 3 months.
One day, she had an interview for a job for which she was convinced they could never find anyone with her skills, but still received a letter saying, “Thank you, but no thank you”. She decided to call and ask why. The lady she talked to, who was very nice, said, “You were the best candidate, but customers form their opinion on you without exams or formal accreditation and your tattoos make a very bad first impression. Sorry, we cannot take the risk”.
7 years later, after her kids were born and she went to find a job, she came into the interview fully covered. She has been working with this employer for 3 years and although her boss knows she has so many tattoos, she covers them, saying she cannot take the risk, because customers are not very respectful when they see them.
If only she could tell the future.
People are just human and they cannot predict the future. This is the same when you are very much in love and carve your girlfriends’ or boyfriend’s name on your chest. Every couple that gets married has a 60% chance of divorcing. Every person who falls in love has a higher chance of separating from the person whose name is carved on their chest than of staying together. Just imagine a guy walking around with his ex’s name tattooed on his chest or his wife kissing him all over in bed, including the name of his old girlfriend…
Although people cannot predict the future, I believe that adults should be able to think of these possibilities. Children, on the other hand, do not have enough life perspective to imagine their future adult life and it is their parents’ role to present the options to them.
Join me next week for tips in how to prevent kids from having the desire to get a tattoo.
This post is part of the series My Kid Wants a Tattoo:
- My Kid Wants a Tattoo: Short-term Thinking
- My Kid Wants a Tattoo: How to Prevent