I'm a responsible wife and mother; I'm also responsibly tattooed.
I'm a responsible wife because, among other things, I treat my husband with the same admiration and respect that I expect from him. Some of the things that make me a responsible mom include putting my daughter's needs first and making sure she is properly fed, dressed and loved. I like to think of myself as "responsibly tattooed" because I didn't get my first piece of body art until I was 24, the subject matter of my tattoos (there are now five) is not offensive or vulgar, and I was completely sober during the application of each one.
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I got my first tattoo on my 24th birthday while in Las Vegas with my then-boyfriend, now-husband. He already had one. We eventually married, and during our six years together, along with a home, two dogs and a baby, we've racked up a combined total of 12 tattoos. My husband's love for ink has definitely inspired me to keep going back under the needle. I don't get them for him, but I probably wouldn't have any if he didn't like them. After all, he has to look at this bod until death do us part. Are Women With Tattoos Sexier?
So while I've been a wife for three years and tattooed for five, I've been a mother for just twelve weeks. And after three months of being a tattooed mom, I have felt judgemental eyes on me as I walk away (my larger tattoos are on my tricep and back of my neck). In a typical scene, the person judging me, generally someone a few generations ahead of me, just spent a few moments cooing at my daughter and asking the usual questions or doling out polite compliments. How old is she? What's her name? Look at all that hair! So precious. Then as I walk away, they stare. And while no one has said anything to me just yet, I know what's on their mind. It's the same thing my 53-year-old father says each time I come home with a new piece. Something along the lines of "disgusting."
In all likelihood, any opinion they initially formed about me morphed into something else after viewing my ink. Which just makes me want to tattoo the following down my arm: I'm a breastfeeding, baby-wearing, co-sleeping, cloth-diapering mom. I'm married. I own a home and a late model car. I have never had a speeding ticket, let alone been convicted of a crime. Too long?
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Fourteen percent of Americans have a tattoo and a 2006 Pew Research Center survey found that 40 percent of people born between the years 1966 and 1980 have at least one tattoo. So why do I feel the way I do? When Granny sees me in all my inked-up mommy glory, is she thinking of how much she wants a tree tattoo just like mine? Is it all in my head?
I don't think so. Having one, well-concealed butterfly tattoo on your ankle, circa your college days, is a lot different than having five. My own mother has a set of hearts on her foot, but she is not pleased that my body is covered in so much ink. Even people with tattoos judge people who have more tattoos. At the same time, having five well-placed tattoos is different than having a large chest piece or an entire sleeve.