Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My daughter is getting a tattoo.........

My 19-year-old daughter informed me tonight that she is getting a tattoo tomorrow. My first thought was this passage by Tina Fey:

“First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches."

And while she is planning to get neither a Chinese symbol for truth NOR Winnie-the-Pooh, she IS planning to stain her tender haunches (rather, her rib cage) with a permanent-ink quote that will remain forever on her skin, till she's old and gray. 

My mind conjures up images of a seedy tattoo parlor and some guy named Ace using a dirty needle on my daughter's perfectly smooth peaches-and-cream skin, injecting infected ink into her bloodstream. Hepatitis, anyone? 

It's just.......that rib cage. That skin, now taught over a tiny frame that was once rolls and rolls of sweet baby fat, permanently altered with a quote who's origin is largely unknown, but is most often attributed to Marilyn Monroe: imperfection is beauty. 

Which is fitting, I suppose, if beauty means making your perfect skin imperfect by altering it. I mean, I know a lot of people with tattoos. I THINK they like them. But a cursory search online shows me that many people don't. They regret them. Why? Mostly because they get them when they are young. Too young to know. Too young to have had any life experiences that are meaningful enough to leave a permanent calling card. 

I don't have anything against tattoos, if that's what an adult chooses to do to their body. By adult, I mean someone with real life experiences. Someone who has had their heart broken, been through something painful, experienced true joy, been alive long enough to have a true sense of self. My 19-year-old, only a few months ago, wanted to get song lyrics tattooed on her body. SONG LYRICS! Do I even need to mention that the artist is a flash in the pan, barely out of her teen years, pop artist who won't even be popular in five minutes? I mean, hey, if you want to get the Eagle's "take it easy" tattooed on your bicep, by all means, feel free. They've been around long enough. 

The point is, while I think tattoos are a very personal thing, a cool way to memorialize an important part of your life, and an interesting art form, I don't have one because I have yet to figure out what in my life is important enough to become a part of me, inked on my skin forever. Sure, I've thought of it, but I'm still stumped to this day as to what I would get. Something with my kids' initials? They're a permanent part of me, for sure. A favorite quote sounds good - but which one? There are so many. 

But that's just me. I know I can't speak for everyone, but I do feel a little bit proprietary towards a body I created and carried for nine months. A body I washed and dressed and held and nurtured and watched grow up to be beautiful and perfect. And imperfect. Imperfection is beauty. 

I know I can't do anything about my daughter's tattoo. I can't tell her "yes" or "no" although I think she would go forth more confidently with a resounding "yes" from her mother. But this is her decision, whether I'm ready for it or not. She's growing up. Ultimately it's her decision - and her body. By age (and default) she's an "adult" and if she wants to ink herself, so be it. 

Imperfection is beauty. And I'm not ready for all that imperfection on my little beauty. 

Ink to paper is thoughtful
Ink to flesh, hard-core.
If Shakespeare were a tattooist
We'd appreciate body art more.
~Terri Guillemets

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