First Reason Not to Get a Tattoo: Your Mom Probably Has One

– Posted in: Beauty, Family, First World Problems, Getting Older, Illustrated by Me, Tammy Thinks

A few years ago, a bunch of people I knew started getting what I like to call “SCRatts” (sports car replacement tattoos). You turn 40, need to reclaim a little bit of your youth, and go get some ink. When one of my best friends showed up with a big, blue butterfly on her hip, I knew the seepage into suburbia was complete.

See, I am not cool. And neither are my friends (sorry guys). So if tattoos are all the rage now, that’s probably the biggest reason to run, run away. When we soccer moms and dads are doing something, it’s like a canary dying in a mine. Kind of like the suburbanization of ghetto fashion. Or how we’ve taken over Facebook…

But I digress before I even get to the point of my actual story. You see my niece just turned 18 and is suddenly all about the permanent “self enhancement”  — extra ear piercing, belly button ring, and now, tattoo. While my brother-in-law was visiting, she sprung it on us that she wanted to get an elephant on her shoulder. Incidentally, my BIL is a doctor who volunteers at a clinic where people can have their tattoos removed for free.

I frankly don’t give two hot damns if someone decides to get a tattoo. You’ll probably never see me getting one because I already get stuck with what I’d consider a sufficient quota of needles every year for un-fun reasons. But we wanted my niece to know exactly what she’d be getting into if she did decide on, as my BIL puts it, a permanent solution to a temporary fashion trend. Especially since said trend is now being taken over by old ladies

Anyway, my niece showed us the picture of the elephant she wanted — pink and yellow, pretty large, very ornate, and kinda Bollywood. It looked exactly like this — I swear…

Pink and Yellow Elephant Tattoo - "What to think about before getting a tattoo"

And the conversation went something like this:

BIL: “Well, just to let you know — yellow is the hardest color to remove.”

Elephant tattoo trying to remove yellow ink - "What to think about before getting a tattoo"

“And when it fades or doesn’t come all the way off, you’ll end up looking jaundiced.”

Elephant tattoo with bad yellow removal - "What to think about before getting a tattoo"

Niece: “But tattoos are soooo sexy!”

Elephant tattoo with sleeves - "What to think about before getting a tattoo"

I’m not going to disagree with her here. I mean, who hasn’t had at least a few impure thoughts about Adam Levine (but then again, I just saw him in a golf shirt and sweater and it still had the same effect, so maybe the tattoos don’t matter at all). There is, of course, a hot, bad boy element that goes along with tattoos.

But what everyone fails to put together is that the hot, bad boy generally has hot, bad boy skin and muscles underneath the tattoos to begin with. No hairy-chested dude with a beer belly has ever been turned into an Adonis with the addition of some skin decoration. Unless that skin decoration was Photoshop.

So that sort of led us to our next point:

BIL: “Well, I can tell you this. I’ve taken care of a lot of old people. And I’ve seen a lot of skin. And a tattoo on old person skin is not attractive…”

Elderly Wrinkled Tattoo Elephant - "What to think about before getting a tattoo"

This is when my daughter, Elfie, who’s 9 and painfully logical, piped in.

Elfie: “Do you even like elephants?”

Niece: “Well. . . sort of. . .”

Yes, it would seem that if you were going to get a permanent decoration on yourself, you might want it to be something that’s unique and meaningful. For instance, I might have entertained the idea of getting my Chinese name. But that was before everybody from here to Mississippi started putting random Asian characters on themselves because they looked cool. Because let’s face it — every combination of Asian characters has some kind of deep, spiritual meaning.  There’s probably no way it could be pointing you to the bathroom or poorly translating a quote from High School Musical.

Pink and Yellow Elephant Tattoo with too many tattoo choices -- "What to think about before getting a tattoo"

BIL: “Whatever you do, just don’t ever get anybody’s name.”

Niece: “Oh, I’d never do that.”

BIL: “Uh huh. People always say that. But I’m talking about anybody’s name. Not even your kids. You just never, ever know…”

This is when my husband, Tenzin, piped in.

Tenzin: “I met someone who had her son’s name on her tramp stamp.” Cue weird silence while we all hope Elfie doesn’t ask us what a tramp stamp is and why that’s creepy.

Elephant tattoo with tramp stamp of kid's name - "What to think about before getting a tattoo"

BIL: “I took a tattoo off a guy who had, ‘Will you marry me?’ on his thigh. Apparently the answer wasn’t good.”

Elephant tattoo with bad marriage proposal gone wrong - "What to think about before getting a tattoo"

So did we get anywhere with my niece? Doubtful. We can only hope she’ll choose something that won’t make her want to visit my brother-in-law in 10 years. And if she does, it’s not some dude’s name written in yellow.


*Just wanted to do a quick shout out to JC Little, The Animated Woman, for encouraging me to draw this story. JC has a new book out — The Last Snowman. Perfect for winter.



14 Comments… add one

long winded December 10, 2013, 12:46 pm

If it is any comfort, piercings aren\\\’t really permanent – especially the naval piercings – piercings migrate out or just close up (as when I was pregnant, I took out earrings in my lobes …piercings that I\\\’d had for 21 years and they closed up. Of course when I was pregnant, a keloid disappeared and my hair got thicker, and changed color and texture. Go progesterone!) At any rate, I have at least 8 piercings that closed up or migrated out.

vanita December 10, 2013, 2:48 pm

I lo-oved this and i dies laughing. you are so cool to illustrate it man. it was awesome!
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Cher December 10, 2013, 4:50 pm

I have always wanted a barcode tattoo on my neck – something odd like the barcode from the can of hairspray I used but then again, I really didn’t want to be 80 years old with a barcode from a can of Big Sexy Hair on the back of my neck…
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Polly December 10, 2013, 6:08 pm

Teaching alternative high school, I see so much alteration and it’s so true–it’s permanent. Or, as I tell my students, when I matured, I was able to throw my bell bottoms AWAY.
To me, the grossest thing is nose piercings, and the second grossest are the earrings that gradually make the holes bigger and bigger. WTF?? Change your mind about that and you’re going to need plastic surgery.

Cheryl S. December 11, 2013, 6:34 am

This has changed me permanently, not unlike a tattoo. Because now? Whenever I see anyone getting a tattoo, I’m going to think of just how uncool it is…or will be. I have one. I didn’t succumb to that whole, “once you get one, you’ll want a thousand,” mentality. It says “Anam Cara” which means Soul Friend in Celtic. My best friend since childhood has the same words tattooed on her. It is hidden. And it’s personal, and when I see it, I think of her smile. (She’s currently having some serious medical issues, and I’m scared to death, so the tattoo is even more precious.) But I wouldn’t want to look like a road map, or worse. And I totally get this. And the nose piercing thing…snort…when you have it in, it looks like you have a booger in your nose, and when you take it out, it looks like a massive blackhead. Win win! 🙂

Rae Buchanan December 11, 2013, 7:53 am

Well, the illustrations had me LOL, hilarious! I like the wrinkled one when the person wears it puts on a few years or pounds. I have always been too much of a wuss to get one anyway….
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Elle December 11, 2013, 2:43 pm

Hysterical and oh so true! I sat next to some older dude getting a manicure today and his tattoo might have been pretty many, many years ago – but today – not so much.
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Andrea December 11, 2013, 6:22 pm

The various phases of elephantasticness are awesome

The AnimatedWoman December 11, 2013, 6:29 pm

See. I told you, didn\’t I? Thanks for making me pee my pants Tammy.I forgive you, I guess. And I have one thing to add: I don\’t think tattoos necessarily look unattractive on old person skin. The tattoo lives and ages with the person, and I think older person skin has its own rock star appeal. But, yeah, those considering any permanent body mods should think about that and a lot of other things.WELL DONE.
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AlwaysARedhead December 12, 2013, 7:11 pm

I have 3 dragonflies (each one representing one of my children) and a pond scene on my leg. I waited until my father passed away before getting it. He was not found of tattoos, thinking they were for prostitutes only. What will it look like when I’m old, but have no idea, but I know I will smile when I look at it. That is all that matters to me.
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Jack December 16, 2013, 7:01 am

Great article, if there’s one thing that we should all advise our kids, it’s skip the ink. Or in the very least, choose something generic enough to stand the test of time i.e. not your lover.
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Andrea December 16, 2013, 6:55 pm

The thing about tattoos is that in a few short decades there are going to be a lot of old ladies walking around with tattoos.
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MJ January 14, 2014, 9:45 am

Oh my. The elderly elephant is my favorite. This made me laugh. And then laugh some more.
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Alexa July 28, 2014, 10:40 am

Oh goodness Tammy, this was funny! Wish I could have seen you read it for VOTY!
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