Can a Tattoo Tear a Family Apart?

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As inked people we would like to think that prejudice against the tattooed was something that no longer happened, yet we encounter examples of it on a day to day basis. The latest example comes from Carolyn Hax's advice column in the Detroit Free Press. A young lady calling herself "Sticking To My (Tattoo) Guns" opens up about the horrible choice she has to make. After working with her artist for months, Guns (as we'll call her) is finally scheduled to get her half sleeve started, but her mother has said that she will be banned from her sibling's wedding if she gets the ink.

"And now I can’t decide if I should postpone my tattoo to keep family peace, or stick to my guns," Guns says. "Am I being selfish, or sticking up for myself?"

Hax mocks the audacity of the mother's stance and goes on to give the advice that Guns should talk to the soon to be wed couple before making a decision. It's their wedding, not the mother's. But Hax stops short of giving any definitive advice as to whether or not Guns should get the tattoo. Allow us to step in and offer our two cents... get the tattoo.

We're not just saying this because we love tattoos, in fact, the tattoo has almost nothing to do with our advice, because if it wasn't a tattoo it would have been something else. It would have been the color of her hair, the thing she said to Uncle Paul about politics last Thanksgiving or who she was bringing as a date. The fact that the mother is willing to take such an extreme stance on a silly little tattoo shows, in our opinion, that she was hoping to freeze Guns out in the first place.

The thing that is great about tattoos is also the thing that can sometimes be horrible about tattoos—we have very strong attachments to them. Much of the time a tattoo is an expression of something that is important to you, whether it is a deep meaning behind the ink or just that you love the art form. Naturally, when someone brings up something that you love as a negative you want to defend it with all you've got. And if a family member is looking to start a fight or cause a rift they know that attacking your ink could be an easy way to rile you up.

This is why we think Guns shouldn't take the bait, don't change your life because of your mother's threat to freeze you out over a tattoo. Basically, you be you. If you want to get the ink, get it. If you want to wait to avoid the hassle of clashing with your family, that's cool too. Just remember that your family is supposed to love you unconditionally, tattoos and all. Ultimately, when it comes to getting tattooed, the only person that matters is you. If your family can't accept you for who you are it's their loss.

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Cover Photo by Ohana Photographers