Marilyn Rondón's first children's book, Why Does Mommy Have Tattoos?, hits stands this May, and it will pull your kid off his or her hoverboard without a fight. Get to know the author below.
Marilyn Rondón's tattoos have caused Uber drivers to mistake her for a prostitute. Customers at the bar she used to tend avoided her because she is "scary." Friends have asked her to stop getting tattooed so she would "not fuck up my beauty.” An ex told her that he doesn't want "the mother of his kids to have a forehead tattoo." She dumped him, got her forehead tattooed immediately after, and is now releasing her first-ever children's book, Why Does Mommy Have Tattoos?,which she wrote and illustrated. Her next book venture could be for adults, perhaps titled, Why You Can't Touch My F****** Tattoos!,"With a girl waving her arms shouting 'No! No! No!'" she joked during a phone conversation with Inked.
Why Does Mommy Have Tattoos? is an imaginative book about diversity, and is written to encourage kids and parents to be anything they want to be with or without tattoos. It's a clever response to the questions tattooed parents get all the time: Mommy has a snake tattoo because it is fierce, a cupcake because it is yummy. "I made it really fun for kids," Rondón promised. Getting it in the hands of conservative, anti-tattoo parents is not a concern of the author's. She said, "If a kid sees the book and they want it, they're probably going to give their parents hell until they buy the book." (Note to parents: You'd be doing your child's future a great disservice by forbidding them from reading this.)
When Rondón was five-years-old, she and her family came to the U.S. from Venezuela, though she told her classmates she was from Cuba. “I was in elementary school in a black and Hispanic neighborhood in Miami and there wasn’t a lot of Venezuelans, no one knew where it was.” One of her first encounters with a tattoo was at age 11, when her big sister, Cindy, came home with a giant lizard inked on her back. "I was like 'Why would you do that to yourself! Tattoos are disgusting!'" Rondón said. At 18, she too came home with her first tattoo on her wrist, it read, "Innocence is bliss."
You may never guess this considering the tattooed babe that she is today, but the 29-year-old spent a chunk of time regretting her ink, “I felt like no one was going to love me.” When her little sister started getting tattooed, Rondón made a point to stop her from inking any further. "You want your siblings and your kids to be accepted, you don't want them to be judged," she explained, afraid that her sister would be haunted by the same comments she has become familiar with. "Being heavily tattooed is like a full time job," she said. "Everywhere you go people ask you questions."
In time, she realized tattoos are like a bullshit meter, "They weave out the shitty people, the lover I don't want in my life, the friends I don't need in my life." With her new outlook on her own ink Rondón told her younger sister, "Fuck the system, do what you want!"
She recalled getting her first face tattoo:
"My first face tattoo was done by a woman who had been tattooing her boyfriend at the time's face. She's a really amazing artist and a friend, I told her I wanted to get 'Respect' tattooed on the side of my face. She was like, 'Hell yeah, I'd love to!' I got it done and a year later I learned she nearly lost her job for tattooing my face. I already had a neck tattoo and full sleeves and my back done. But they gave her hell for it. If I were a dude no one would have blinked an eye. Instead, I was a 24-year-old girl and everyone had something to say about it. I'm a paying customer, it's my life, my fucking choice, my face, and she’s a fucking professional—who cares?"
Page after page in Why Does Mommy Have Tattoos? is packed with empowerment for all. Rondón channeled her inner child to give kids a chance to make up their own mind about tattooed people, to make sure its little readers won’t have to deal with the stigma when they get tattooed—because they will get tattooed, parents. So go get it! Give it to mom this Mother's Day. And bookmark page 12—because she's a champ.
Published by Lit Riot Press, Why Does Mommy Have Tattoos? will be available for purchase this May, just in time for Mother's Day. Learn more here.