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Dealing With Tattoo Prejudice

Q) Being a tattooed mom, do you ever experience prejudice from other parents or from your childrens' friends? If so, how do you deal with that? - Carrie
A) This has been an interesting adventure through the years. Our kids are all teenagers now and I have all sorts of stories in relation to tattoo prejudice, that have transpired since they were little. When we attend school functions, it's not uncommon to receive gasps and stares from other parents. Funny enough though, teachers and administrators have always seemed more open to getting to know us as people before making judgments. At the risk of sounding like a proud mom (which I am), I think that once they realize how smart and well-behaved our kids are, they totally look past our exteriors and know that being good parents has nothing to do with artwork that you wear on your skin.
Photo by she's a renegadeNow, other parents, that can sometimes be a different story (certainly, not always... because there are many cool & accepting parents too; just as in all walks of life). It's true that some people do judge books by their covers and we definitely get the rolling of eyes and disapproving looks from time-to-time. I must admit that when it first happened, years ago, it bothered me and I just wanted to say, "Hey, just talk to me... you will realize that your impression is wrong," but over the years, it has almost become like a great barometer for weeding out people who I honestly don't have time for or would want in my life in the first place. Seeing a person judge another based ONLY on appearance is a great gauge into one's character.
The lesson that I have learned when it comes to dealing with anyone who seems put off, upset or judgmental about my ink is that all you can do is be yourself and not let anger or frustration get the best of you. Even when it's hard to do, I try to smile, say HI, or acknowledge someone in a positive manner if the opportunity presents itself. I think that being a good example of kindness is sometimes the best medicine for anyone who might think you are not capable of that.
Not long ago, I was in line at the grocery store. I was chatting with the checker when another customer got in line behind me and immediately gasped and then started asking me about my tattoos. His first response was verbal and he said, "Woah, you are COVERED in tattoos...that's crazy!" He then started asking me about the portrait of my husband on my leg, about my head ink, if getting tattooed hurt, and things of this nature. I was happy to answer his questions and soon the checker was chiming in and telling him things that she already knew about my tattoos. It totally changed his demeanor and I got the impression that he felt more at ease.
I told them both goodbye, walked out to the car and started putting my groceries in the trunk, when he came jogging up to me and said,

"I just want to tell you that you really changed my impression in there. I told the checker that usually people with tattoos are not so nice and I was surprised that you talked to me and answered my questions." I smiled and thanked him and then he continued, "But then I started thinking about it and maybe it wasn't that you were different than most; but that I would have never given a tattooed person the chance to begin with because I just ASSUMED that someone so tattooed wouldn't be like that. Maybe I was wrong all along."  Ah-ha ... EXACTLY!!!

As tattooed people, I think we almost have an obligation to work a little harder at turning the stereotype that associates those with ink upside-down. Of course, any group in society is going to have people at all different places on the spectrum and there will be those that "fit" the stereotype; but there are also MANY who don't and if you are one of those MANY, try to shock people not by your appearance or body modifications, but by being a person with admirable character. There really isn't anything better than crushing an inaccurate stereotype; whatever that stereotype may be. Be yourself and be proud of the decisions you have made in life. It will reflect in the way you carry yourself and those who are fortunate enough to see you for YOU will completely "get it."
As Dr. Seuss once said:

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind do not matter ... and those who matter do not mind."

Keep these wise words in mind. Be proud of your ink and kind to others. The combination will impress those who are worth impressing and just might change a few minds along the way.

Last updated on September 21, 2009 by Jinxi Boo