Life : Ink Rethink : Veggie Mama Talks Tattoos
Tattoos are one of those things about which everyone has an opinion. It seems hardly anybody is ambivalent about them, most people are either “I totally have them/want them/think they’re awesome”, or they’re all “no way, not ever!”
I wanted to get a tattoo as soon as I could. I can’t even tell you why, I just knew I did. I got my first at 18 and knew I would get more. At 21 and 24, two more appeared, on my neck and wrist, and as much as I loved getting them, I was only too aware that they were permanent and under no circumstances should be rushed into. Boy, are they addictive though.
I thought for sure when I married into a heavily-inked family (and by heavily, I mean heavily), that I would be inspired all over again and suddenly become a walking tattooist portfolio. It took six years and a lot of careful thought before I got any more, though. I fell in love with the idea of tattoos as beautiful pictures, not just tattoos for the sake of it. I didn’t get tattoos to be edgy, or different, or to prove a point. I don’t know anyone who has. Some people get them to symbolise something. I just like having art on my arms.
I also like to think that attitudes toward tattoos are changing. No longer the sole domain of criminals and sailors, they are becoming increasingly commonplace and it’s certainly not unusual to see them. Stigma still exists though, and as with anything about one’s physical form that is judged, I think it’s silly. Sure it’s a choice, rather than something you are born with, but I don’t believe tattoos are immediately something by which one should judge the value of the human inside that skin.
I asked my husband, Matt, if he’d noticed people judging him for his tattoos. He said he most certainly had. “I’ve also had people tell me to my face that they’ve judged me based on my appearance,” he said.“Those that have actually taken the time to meet and get to know me have also mentioned they were pleasantly surprised at my nature and demeanour despite my tattoos.”
I find it amusing to see the impact he has on the very-quick-to-judge, and their genuine surprise that he turns out to be a nice, polite, intelligent guy. They’re even more taken aback that he is a well-respected and very-much-liked high school science and PE teacher. Having words on his fingers and pictures on his arms doesn’t mean he’s lost the ability to be kind-hearted and generous. As far as the Judgy McJudgersons go, his care factor is less than zero.
“I think those who judge spend more time caring about it than I do,” he said. ‘If people are devoting enough energy to care about my extrinsic appearance that it prevents them from discovering my personality and character, then they have invested enough care for the both of us and I’m more than happy to leave it at that.” *swoon*
I got my biggest and most noticeable piece after I became a mum at 31, an owl on my inner bicep. Oh who am I kidding, bicep? Let’s just say the tuckshop-lady part of my arm. It’s loosely based on my journey into motherhood, but mostly I think it’s an amazing piece of artwork. It makes me happy. Do other people judge me for it? Possibly. But I’m not the first mother who has a tattoo. I certainly won’t be the last. I’m hardly likely to take seriously anybody who correlates tattoos with bad parenting – what an incredibly illogical assumption to make.
I find most people are kind about my tattoos though, and I get lovely comments all the time. And funnily enough, most people want to tell me about their own, or how much they want to get one themselves. I got mine long after I had to worry about this sort of thing conflicting with getting a job. It has no bearing whatsoever on what I do for a living. I asked Matt if he thought his tattoos had ever held him back from getting a job or pursuing his goals, and even I was surprised when he said no.
“I have a sneaking suspicion there is at least one occasion where they’ve played a part in missing an employment opportunity , though” he said. “Unfortunately for that would-be employer, my appearance was not a good indicator of my knowledge and skill level. “Using appearance as a judge of character is foolish and close-minded. Of my tattooed friends there are loving and devoted brothers and sisters, boyfriends and girlfriends, wives and husbands, mothers and fathers. There are musicians, entrepreneurs, artists, designers and engineers. There are teachers, lecturers, journalists, lawyers, scientists, animal activists. Some of the most compassionate and considerate people I’ve had the fortune of meeting are tattooed. None of it has anything to do with who they are on the surface and it has everything to do with who they are on the inside.”
Of course we also meet people who are all these things and aren’t tattooed but to judge them for not having tattoos is as silly as judging people for them – it’s hardly an indicator of personal value. But is our position in the minority? I have to wonder if it really is a huge issue any more. Like I said, I believe attitudes are changing.
I’d like to know your thoughts though… are tattoos commonplace? Do YOU have one? Have YOU ever been judged? Do YOU judge others?
Stacey is a vegetarian, mama, crochet lover, vintage collector and a tea enthusiast. She blogs about delicious days and (sometimes) sleepless nights at Veggie Mama.
All images by Veggie Mama