Friday, August 28, 2009

DCMM: Tattoo You?

The other day I reminded my husband that I wanted another tattoo and that I was saving up my earnings from my videography business to pay for it.

"I know," he sighed. Because even though he's not a tattoo lover, he accepts my love of them. (I have three.)

I clicked my wrists together. "I'm getting bracelets," I told him cheerfully.

And then his face dropped, he looked like I'd shot him, and he said, "You're what? No you're not."

I was completely surprised. I mean, it's not like my tattoos are all hidden away and demure. I have two black lizards tattooed on my left arm that even the tattoo artist made fun of because, "You'll be able to see this from across the street." But for some reason the thought of tattoos on my wrists made him cringe. It has something to do with the fact that they would be difficult to cover even in a long-sleeved shirt.

I'm not sure what it is about tattoos that are so off-putting to people. The way I see them, they are meaningful art that just happens to be on your body. Yes, there are a lot of bad tattoos out there and I could better understand my husband's reaction if I had plans to tattoo, say, a naked lady on my hand.

But that's not what I'm doing. I'm going to put some words on my left wrist (which is often covered by my watch and silver bangles anyway) and some words and small icons on my right wrist. I even promised to purchase conservative cuff bracelets that I could wear to cover them if he ever saw fit to invite his tattooed-lady wife to a work function ever again.

Ever since I was 18 and got my first tattoo at about the same time that I got my eyebrow pierced, people have been asking me two things: (1) Did that hurt? and (2) How are you going to get a job?

Here are my answers: (1) yes, but not too badly, and (2) I have never had an employer ask about or even mention any of my body art. 

Times have changed. We no longer live in a society where having a tattoo means that you're either a marine or a biker. I don't think that tattooing is a radical act anymore. Sometimes it seems like every mom at library story time is sporting art on her body. 

I do understand about regret and permanence. My rule for myself is that I have to want a specific tattoo for at least a year before I get it inked on my skin. I've held fast to that rule and it has saved me from a couple of ill-advised ideas that fortunately never came to fruition. I currently have three tattoos: the lizards I got when I was in graduate school, a dove based on a Picasso sketch I got when I was in college, and my first tattoo, a yin-yang encased in a sun that I got my first year at college. For me, all of them have stood the test of time. 

I'm curious as to what other "respectable" members of society think about tattoos. Do they have them? Do they worry about covering them? If they are in charge of hiring people for jobs (or, say, promoting their husbands), do tattoos play a part in that decision? 

I still believe that tattoos are beautiful if done tastefully and well and I still want to get my tattooed bracelets. I think one of the wonderful things about tattoos is putting them places that are meaningful, which is what I am trying to do by inking over my pulse points. 

I do have to put some thought into my husband's feelings. He has acknowledged that it is my body and I can do what I want with it. But he has also said that he would be disappointed if I did it. I'm torn. But I do know that I shouldn't ask my mother for advice because she would probably drop into a dead faint. And then side with my husband.

Original post to DC Metro Moms.

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