Moms and Tattoos…Trendy or Trashy?
By: Tara Weng
When it comes to tattoos in general, nearly everyone has an opinion. But when it comes to moms and tattoos it seems to take on a whole new meaning.
“If done discretely and tastefully, they can be quite sexy. The face, neck, breasts and buttocks should never be tattooed,” says 38-year-old Adam. New mom Kristina has her son’s name tattooed on her wrist. “I love it and so does he. I think tattoos are a great expression of love and creativity when they mean something,” she says. Tattoo-less Keri-Lyn notes that it’s still considered “trashy” to some. “In certain aspects of the business world, it’s still a whispered “Did you see that?” to see a visible tattoo on a woman,” she explains.
I guess I wonder why people get tattoos at all, so for some answers I checked in with clinical and fitness psychologist Dr. Michael Mantell.
Dr. Mantell points out that a mother’s relationship with her child can sometimes have a lot to do with why she gets ink. “The “romanticization” of mother-child love is reflected in the stylized nature of the tattoos moms choose–often a representation of their child,” he notes. He also explains the times we live in can have a large impact on the reasons behind a woman choosing body art. “I believe there are some specific issues related to why moms, in particular, get tattoos. With homes being lost to foreclosure, so many marriages ending, marriages and homes may come and go, but permanence for many young women is the relationship they feel with their children, and that gets expressed in choosing to “honor” that relationship with a tattoo. A woman’s body is the one thing she has control over, and one way to demonstrate that control is to control what is placed on her body–a tattoo,” he says.
Mantell explored the subject in a 2009 article entitled “The Psychology of Tattoos.” In the piece, he acknowledges that in some cases getting inked is the result of a “dumb mistake,” though many of the tattooed I talked to are proud and excited to discuss their ink. “I love good ink. It’s beautiful. Skin is a perfect canvas. My ink all means something to me. I have ink for my kids, my dad, my friends, my family; they are all precious to me. They have become a part of me. I wouldn’t get rid of any of them…and I want more,” says Indiana native Toby.
The website mommy tattoos offers its readership tips on how to prepare themselves for getting inked. The site also recognizes the growing trend of moms and moms-to-be who are taking the plunge into body art.
Whatever society’s impression of the tattooed is, particularly when it comes to moms, it’s clear that it’s an art form that is not going away. Much like piercings, fashion and hair color, tattoos will draw criticism from some and praise from others. Certainly impressions have changed over the years and raised eyebrows may be on the decrease. As a mother of two I am very happy with my own tattoos having gotten two before I had kids and others afterwards. I am also happy to tell my kids why I chose the images I did and to assure them that “Yes, it did hurt!”