My mother thought me getting a tattoo was to punish her


honey, were you mad at me?”  And I thought it was such a random thing for her to say.  What did it have to do with her?  In my mind there was no connection whatsoever, and over the many ensuing years as I have pondered her words, and why she said them, I am still no closer to making the connection.

Circumstance recently saw me at the tattoo parlour getting some work done.  I went out to dinner that evening with a friend, and I mentioned having been to a tattooist that day.  She started talking about how her own children were flirting with getting tattoos, and how upsetting that was to her, “it’s as if they are punishing me,” she said.

There it was again.  I told her about what my mother had said.  “Of course,” she said, thinking it the most logical thing in the world.  I wanted to get to the bottom of this.  Her reaction suggested that this was more than just my mother’s reaction to me getting tattooed.  It was universal.  Two data points is all we need to make that kind of leap, right?

What was it?  Because a mother carries a child, does she feel some sense of ownership over the child’s body?  Does a mother look at a tattoo as an act against nature, something that she might feel she created, as an act of violence against the body, and therefore an act of self hate?  What about mothers who have tattoos themselves?

And what about the reverse?  Why am I compelled to cover my body with ink?  Why do any of us do this?  Piercings, tattoos?  I don’t understand it, but my own personal taste runs towards the modern primitives.  I love how people turn their bodies into works of art, as platforms for self-expression.  I find it beautiful.  One of my deepest and longest abiding body fantasies is to be fully tattooed.  The image of a geisha, patiently being tattooed by a master artist, in the old style, one prick at a time, carries with it a nostalgic beauty that has long occupied my mind.

My SO can’t stand tattoos, nor my children, and I do still listen to the people in my life.  And a stud through my tongue would raise eyebrows at work, but I still want them.  And no Mom, I didn’t do it to hurt you.  I did it because I like being pierced and tattooed.  That’s all.

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