In Judgement of . . . tattoos.

imageHave you ever judged someone or been judged yourself based on nothing but assumptions? Ignorance? Fear?

  • Of course you have, because we’re all human. The key is that as humans, we also have the tools to eliminate this judgement, even if it’s only to change the way that we think ourselves.

I live in a small town in the midwestern U.S. where judgement is rampant. Labels – lots of labels. Things like:

  • If you go to the symphony or the theater, you’re weird or an elitist.
  • If you listen to country music, you’re a redneck.
  • If you don’t go to church, you’re a heathen.
  • If you knit, you’re a geek. (I just had to throw that in!)

I consider myself to be a very open-minded and tolerant person. However, I have been guilty of judgement myself. Let’s take tattoos, for example (How was that for a segue?!)

As recently as a year ago, I thought tattoos were:

  • Tacky
  • Stupid
  • Poor judgement
  • A rash decision
  • Irresponsible

(If you’re offended at this point, keep reading. This post comes full circle.)

I strive everyday to learn something new and to try to put myself in other people’s shoes in my effort to understand them better. (I have been a victim of people judging me and not getting to know me, so I make it a point to prove them wrong.) Over the past year, I have started to realize that people whom I have respected, worked with, cared about – have tattoos. Most of them are discreet, most of them were not rash decisions, and most of them have deep and personal meaning to the wearer.

But the event that made me really understand and APPRECIATE tattoos happened in May during my trip to Spain with my daughter, Erica. It was our first night, and we were sitting in a restaurant drinking a glass of wine and having a great conversation. Suddenly she blurted out, “I have to tell you something – I have a tattoo.”

Now, you have to know my daughter. She is brilliant, valedictorian of her high school class, a true leader in the sense of the word. The kind of young woman that all the parents trust, who has more direction and control of her future than most seasoned adults. Squeeky clean, “good girl” all the way, etc.

I froze. “You what?”

“I have a tattoo. I told my friends that I had to tell you, and that I would find the perfect time while we were in Spain. I felt like now was the right time.”

I could see the terror in her face, waiting to see if I would cry, get mad, disown her… So I took a deep breath.

“When did you get it?”

“A year ago, after (high school) graduation. I thought about it for a long time. I felt like I just had to do it for me, sort of a rite of passage.”

“Why did you wait so long to tell me?”

“Because I didn’t want to disappoint you.”

There it was. The slap in the face that says, “YOU’RE THE PROBLEM, WOMAN. Get off your high horse and make an effort.”

So she showed me. It was beautiful. “…drink the wild air.” A line from a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson. (Her tattoo was even smart.)

A couple of evenings ago, we were taking a walk, and Erica said, “We should get a tattoo together. Next summer. For your birthday!” Her face lit up, and I’m thinking, “Yeah, right.”

The next morning, I texted her at work. “I’ll do it. June 18, 2014”

Do you have a tattoo? Do you love or regret it? Does it have a specific meaning to you? Or do you have a strong opinion about tattoos, either positive or negative? Let’s start a conversation.

This post is dedicated to my daughter, Erica, who makes me a better person everyday.

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5 thoughts on “In Judgement of . . . tattoos.

  1. I am now 52 years old and got my first tattoo last summer. I had been thinking about getting one for quite some time – I think ink can be art. So when faced with a very scary time in our family’s life, I decided it was the time to get my tat. I have “Fear not” on the inside of my left wrist in a very pretty font as a constant reminder to myself to look to God for strength and to not let the circumstances rule. My husband didn’t like it at the time but he has chosen to overlook it once he understood just what it meant to me. I love it. It is at a spot that won’t shift much as I continue to age so it should look nice for the duration. My younger son was with me when I got it and he thinks it is really cool. I think my mom and sisters disapprove but they don’t mention it. My dad doesn’t mind it I think. So I am glad you will be getting one next year – take time to make it meaningful and what you can be happy with forever! 😀 Oh yes, it will hurt but the pain doesn’t last long.

    • Vikki, thanks for your story. I know that my husband and son won’t approve at first. But the whole point is that I’m doing it for me. And that makes me happy.

  2. We haven’t talked about tattoos in the workplace for years, so let’s revisit the subject. I will say at the outset that I think tattoo sleeves are in a very different category than the tiny tattoo somewhere noticeable (wrist, ankle) or the bigger tattoo somewhere generally hidden (lower back, shoulder blade). As someone with tattoo sleeves (or half-sleeves) (tattoo ballet sleeves?), you should not only know your office, but I think should also know a) yourself, b) your boss, and c) your business relationships. (Pictured: Shading , originally uploaded to Flickr by liquidnight .) Here’s what I mean: In a conservative office with conservative clients, I’m sorry, but yes, your tattoos are likely something you’re going to hide, at least most of the time. I would always hide them for interviews and first meetings, and honestly, for the first ten meetings. Once you get to know someone (the boss, the assistant, the client, the opponent, whomever) you can show more personality, which can, in some circumstances, include showing your tats. (You say they’re all “very tasteful,” so I’m assuming there’s nothing unsuitable for the office with your tattoos, such as nudity, foul language, etc.) In some jobs — where literally any day could be the first day you meet a new big client — this will effectively mean you have to cover your arms most of the time. On the plus side, a blazer looks professional with so many outfits and will effectively hide your tattoos, so you should be fine; in many ways, your tattoos will be easier to hide than the small wrist or ankle tattoos that some women get.

  3. Pingback: I Have Been Tatted! | Simply Swank

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