It’s a funny thing being a heavily tattooed, professional mom in the suburbs these days. You can’t seem to pick up a magazine or turn on the television without pop-culture exposure to tattoos, and yet I still can’t walk into a restaurant or grocery store in a t-shirt without being scowled at or having a nasty remark muttered in my general direction. It pains me to admit, but the constant desire to either cover up or be judged has begun to take it’s toll on my ego.
You may notice that I don’t draw a lot of attention to my tattoos on HotPinkApron.com. I’m proud of the way I look but they simply don’t always relate to the food and family elements that I’m writing about.
In the past few weeks I have received some pretty bold reminders that I don’t necessarily fit in with the traditional domestic landscape. So, if you wouldn’t mind, I would like to put the whisk down for a moment and use my blog as a soap box to discuss some of the stigmas that seem to be attached to tattoos and the foxy moms that wear them.
Since the 90s, tattoos have become a mainstream part of North American fashion. Men and women are sporting big and small pieces all over their bodies. Celebrities, rock stars, and beyond are covered in them. There are hit TV shows entirely based on the culture of the tattoo shop and fame for people that offer little more to the screen than simply being tattooed. Great, let’s express ourselves, but the current popularity does not remove the long-standing stereotypes based on deviant social groups. Many cultures and many religious groups still associate tattoos with criminals, prisoners and gangsters. It was only about 50 years ago that a prohibition of tattoos in Japan was lifted. Many companies there still “forbid” their employees to be tattooed because of the strong connection with the Yakuza (Japanese organized crime). These cultural beliefs run deep, as I was reminded last week when trying to order from a little sushi restaurant in the suburbs of Ontario.
“If you’re feeling insecure about your tattoos, can’t you get them removed?” First of all, OWW!! For those that don’t know, tattoo laser removal treatments are excruciatingly painful and cost a fortune. Secondly, every single one of my tattoos represents a time, a place and/or a person very important to me. I regret nothing and would never want to remove any one of them. I don’t have a problem with the way I look. My problem is entirely with the people that have recently judged me as a parent, as a professional, as a blogger, and as a woman. Their opinions are based entirely on the way I look, all I ask for is a fair chance to win them over with my witty sense of humour and charm. 🙂
I started getting tattooed about 15 years ago. After a childhood of never fitting in, I discovered skateboard parks and punk rock shows and finally felt like I belonged somewhere. It was a sub-culture driven by expression so piercings and tattoos were a natural feature amongst my friends. For me, it began as a way to control how people saw me, if I was going to be a weirdo anyhow it might as well be for the artwork I appreciated. I began with a Chinese character meaning “eternity” and eventually morphed into larger pieces symbolizing adventures, accomplishments and remembering loved ones lost.
Most of my adult years have been spent living downtown, surrounded by vibrant art communities where everyone is finding their own identity through personal expression. Through my career I have always chose to cover up, again – not that I’m not proud of the way I look, I just had enough of a struggle as a woman climbing those certain ladders that I didn’t need stereotypes and personal opinions on tattoos working against me as well.
As for my recent insecurities, I now live in the suburbs of Ontario and I live amongst a society of people that have yet to be desensitized to women with a large amount of body work. Many are hard-working, blue collar people that still relate tattoos to tales of bikers, gangsters, skids and hooligans. I respect these people and respect their opinions, my only ask is that we (as a collective society) not lash out at the things that are different to us.
My husband (who wears a beautiful sleeve, chest and rib pieces) and many of my urban dwelling friends think I am being too uptight for taking some of the recent insults and judgements so personally, and I don’t blame them. They’re right, my being tattooed has brought me great joy through the years; for every petty scowl I have received there are at least 5 hilarious stories of new friends made, provoking conversations had or tour buses boarded thanks to my ink art. What my friends don’t seem to understand is how insecure you can be when you become a mother, and just how alienating it can be when no one in your environment looks like you.
My only real concern in life right now is that Brett and I are doing enough for our children, which includes the outcome of my reflection put upon them. I don’t want my kids to be exposed to the kind of outspoken cruelty that I have been hearing because of the decisions I have made.
For those tattooed rebels that say, “Who cares what anyone thinks?!” I say, “Don’t be a jackass.” Let’s all face it, it is human nature to judge, some of us are just more flexible and open-minded than others. Respect your surroundings, respect your elders and respect that many opinions are built over a lifetime. My goal is to teach my kids (while reminding myself) that if you’re a good person at the core, the cool ones will come around and see beyond your physical attributes. The ones that choose to hate you just because of the way you look, well (and I say this with a few in my very own family), let them hate.
We’re all here to get along, find some common ground and live happier, healthier lives for it. Hate is such a waste of time, leave it alone.
Imagine getting a really cute haircut and 15 years later people where still commenting on it. You may continue cutting it this way but the comments do grow stale over time. I enjoy genuine curiosity about tattoos and will respond to most questions and comments with a smile, but let me give you a heads up on the things that anyone who is visibly tattooed is sick of hearing. (Keep in mind that these are questions often asked by complete strangers, usually opening the first communication we’ve ever had.)
Do you regret doing that to your body? This one just cracks me up because it is almost always asked by someone overweight and smelling of cigarette smoke.
What do they all mean? Oh boy. Too loaded of a question for a grocery line, my friend.
What are you going to do when you get old? I am going to be awesome, old and tattooed.
How much did your tattoos cost? Oi! Does this question ever bother me. It is just so rude. I have made an investment in the way I look and the details are not the business of a complete stranger. I will say this, this is a piece of artwork that will be permanently etched in your skin – not the place to cheap out.
Do they hurt? Yes, there is a pain and discomfort that comes from the process of being tattooed but it’s not terrible. Some areas hurt more than others and I find it hurts more the older I get.
Who does your work? I have been very fortunate to travel quite a bit in my life and many of my pieces are from different artists all around the world. When you are considering your own tattoo, invest the time and energy in finding a parlour and an artist that is right for you and the piece. Go through portfolios, ask a ton of questions and read reviews posted to reliable forums. Being tattooed is a very personal experience, the artist you work with is a key factor to consider.
Are you in a gang? Ok, no one has ever actually asked me this but I sense some are thinking it. I am in a gang, a few gangs really: a gang of foodies, a community of bloggers, artist groups, my family gang, and I hope to one day pledge to the PTA and regional council. I know, I’m bad ass.
A few more notes to consider:
Never reach out and grab someone to ask about their artwork. Being tattooed is not an open invitation to be groped.
Anyone with the right amount of time, money and tolerance to pain can be tattooed. Tattoos do not make you cool, they just make you tattooed.
I have one more favour to ask. Before you pass judgement on someone else, for expressing themselves in any form, please consider all of the ways that you are different and exercise a little empathy. We are all weirdos in our own unique ways, I just wear my weirdness on my sleeves.Add to favorites