Author Topic: Dear Prudie on tattoos  (Read 6304 times)

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SamiHami

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Re: Dear Prudie on tattoos
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2013, 07:42:25 PM »
When I got my tattoo I knew with certainty that my mother would hate it. She despises tattoos and complains whenever anyone in the family gets one. So when i got mine at the ripe old age of 45 I just showed it to her and told her that at my age I was old enough to decide for myself whether or not I wanted one. She kinda made a face, and then said, "Let me see it again." She then told me that she still doesn't like them but that at least mine was cute.

I say if you are grown up enough to get inked, you are grown up enough to tell the folks. I don't see any point in hiding it. As I've read on here so many times, they will either get over it or die angry. It's all on them.

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lady_disdain

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Re: Dear Prudie on tattoos
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2013, 08:17:15 PM »
True, advice is relative and it is impossible to completely set one's opinion aside. However, the columnist should allow their prejudices to take over. To me, the mark of a good person to give advice is one who listens to you, understands your concerns and addresses them.

Emily Yoffe could have added a line about tattoos after giving the needed advice, not instead.

"Dear Writer,

Part of being an adult is being able to make your own decisions and dealing with the repercussions. Through life, you may make many other decisions that your parents disagree with it. However, it is your life and you shouldn't live under the shadow of their disapproval. Some parents are able to deal well with this, others, not so much.

You do not have to tell them at once or even at all, if that is what you prefer. You may find it easier to let some time pass, become used to your tattoo as just another part of your body. If they dislike it, at least you will be comfortable enough to say 'sorry, it is part of me now' instead of second guessing yourself.

Now, you will have to forgive my old fashioned views. Please consider your tattoo carefully. People age, their bodies change and the important symbols in their lives change. It would be awful to have to live forever with something that doesn't appeal to you anymore or that has suffered the effects of gravity and fading. I know I am increasingly alone in this view but I can't pass advice on without including this."

Good example of people's prejudices showing up as hard as we try for them not to.  ;) I don't consider people who dislike tattoos "Old Fashioned". There are people with cultural reasons who dislike them. And there is still a large percentage, though minority, of the 35 and under set who do not like them. It's funny to think of non-tattoo people as the "alternative" society.


I was just trying to echo Prudie's views. I believe she used either that term or something similar. ;)

Calistoga

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Re: Dear Prudie on tattoos
« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2013, 01:52:28 PM »
How incredibly unhelpful. I know plenty of people who are quite a bit older than me and love their tattoos. But that's not even the point- he wasn't asking for her advice about getting a tattoo, he was asking if he should tell his parents about it, since he knows they don't like tattoos. It was tantamont to telling someone who wanted to know if it was a good idea to bring a new puppy on a family vacation not to get a puppy.

As to that, yes, I think he should mention it to them. That way there's no sudden scandal at the beach when he takes his shirt off and mom spots his ink.

Margo

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Re: Dear Prudie on tattoos
« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2013, 02:18:32 PM »
How incredibly unhelpful. I know plenty of people who are quite a bit older than me and love their tattoos. But that's not even the point- he wasn't asking for her advice about getting a tattoo, he was asking if he should tell his parents about it, since he knows they don't like tattoos. It was tantamont to telling someone who wanted to know if it was a good idea to bring a new puppy on a family vacation not to get a puppy.

As to that, yes, I think he should mention it to them. That way there's no sudden scandal at the beach when he takes his shirt off and mom spots his ink.

Exactly. Giving an answer different to the one the questioner wants is fine, and is one of the things you risk when you ask for advice. Failing to answer the question at all, and answering a totally different  question to the one which was asked is both sloppy and unhelpful.

And tattoos are not to everyone's taste, but they are pretty mainstream these days, and if you are in your 20s and living independently then the choice of whether to get a tattoo or not isnt one you can make for yourself. I wonder if the reply would have been different if the body modification had been a different one - breast enlargement or reduction, for instance?

CreteGirl

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Re: Dear Prudie on tattoos
« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2013, 03:58:58 PM »
My advice to the letter writer would be to tell his parents, but perhaps wait until after he has it.

They might not be happy, but it is still his choice.  I think it would be worse for the tattoo to be discovered inadvertently by his parents at a later date.

Had my parents been alive when I got my tattoo, I admit I would have been hesitant to tell them.  My Mom liked to call me a bimbo, and this would have only given her further proof, in her mind, that she was right.

However, I would have been a bimbo with a really nice tattoo. 

Now I'm just a woman with a really nice tattoo.

Oh Joy

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Re: Dear Prudie on tattoos
« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2013, 04:36:17 PM »
I admit, I'm a bit let down by the consensus in this thread. 

Regarding her not answering the asked question, that's pretty accepted as a response on this board.  Often a poster will ask how to politely say something, and we advise that the better solution is something else entirely (ask the roommate to move out, not go to the party, etc.) 

Regarding the advice to reconsider the tattoo itself, I believe the opinion that tattoos aren't a good idea is just as valid as the opinion that tattoos are a good idea.  Neither opinion has to be right or wrong, and it's OK to have either one.  (What one does with one's opinion is an entirely different matter, of course).

YMMV.

Onyx_TKD

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Re: Dear Prudie on tattoos
« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2013, 05:21:44 PM »
I admit, I'm a bit let down by the consensus in this thread. 

Regarding her not answering the asked question, that's pretty accepted as a response on this board.  Often a poster will ask how to politely say something, and we advise that the better solution is something else entirely (ask the roommate to move out, not go to the party, etc.) 

Regarding the advice to reconsider the tattoo itself, I believe the opinion that tattoos aren't a good idea is just as valid as the opinion that tattoos are a good idea.  Neither opinion has to be right or wrong, and it's OK to have either one.  (What one does with one's opinion is an entirely different matter, of course).

YMMV.

I think a discussion board and an advice columnist are fairly different things.

First, if one person on a discussion board offers an alternative suggestion Y without addressing the initial question X, then there are plenty more people who may address the original question. Second, on a discussion board, the original poster can easily jump back in and say "I've already decided that I'm not going to do Y [optionally giving reasons]. In light of that fact, how would you handle X?" If no one responds to the question X because they can't imagine not doing Y instead...well, that's a risk you take with a board of regular people having discussions, rather than professional advice columnists. And frankly, if someone here replied to a post about tattoos as Prudie did, loftily lecturing the OP about how tattoos are permanent as if it was impossible that this younger person had thought their decision through, then I'd think that poster was appallingly rude.

Prudence is a professional advice columnist. The typical format for the "discussion" is one letter and one answer--hers. Plus, I'm sure she gets many more letters than she prints in her column, so her choosing to publish someones letter IMO implies a contract to actually give advice on their issue. They are providing her with material to make her living (no letters coming in=no more Dear Prudence), and in return she is supposed to give them useful advice. I don't see a problem with her politely offering additional advice beyond what the writer asked for (e.g., make sure you've thought this through before you make permanent body modifications, especially if you're worried about the reactions of people close to you). But what she did here was use her soapbox to give a condescending lecture from on high about the evils of tattoos, while offering not one smidgen of advice on how to address the tattoo with the parents.

Tea Drinker

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Re: Dear Prudie on tattoos
« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2013, 06:20:03 PM »
How incredibly unhelpful. I know plenty of people who are quite a bit older than me and love their tattoos. But that's not even the point- he wasn't asking for her advice about getting a tattoo, he was asking if he should tell his parents about it, since he knows they don't like tattoos. It was tantamont to telling someone who wanted to know if it was a good idea to bring a new puppy on a family vacation not to get a puppy.

As to that, yes, I think he should mention it to them. That way there's no sudden scandal at the beach when he takes his shirt off and mom spots his ink.

Exactly. Giving an answer different to the one the questioner wants is fine, and is one of the things you risk when you ask for advice. Failing to answer the question at all, and answering a totally different  question to the one which was asked is both sloppy and unhelpful.

It occurs to me that the person might have written to Prudie because he knew she doesn't like tattoos. If you asked me whether to tell your parents about a tattoo, you'd get an answer from the viewpoint of a person who has and likes tattoos. If you asked someone who dislikes tattoos, you might be hoping for an answer that addressed "if someone you cared about had a tattoo, would you want to know about it?"
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Mental Magpie

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Re: Dear Prudie on tattoos
« Reply #23 on: May 07, 2013, 08:58:20 PM »
I just got my 3rd tattoo today, and despite my mother abhorring them, I told her beforehand; that way, it didn't come as a shock to her when I see her in 2 weeks.

There is a difference between offering an alternative and plainly not answering the question.  The first is helpful while the second is not.  The first can be informative, the second is a rude dismissal.  If you don't agree with tattoos, don't answer the question about how to tell someone you have a tattoo with "don't get one!".  All you're saying is the question asker's feeling on the stance doesn't matter.
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VorFemme

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Re: Dear Prudie on tattoos
« Reply #24 on: May 07, 2013, 11:20:09 PM »
I will state categorically that covering your face with blue stars or black squares in a checkerboard pattern is going to raise eyebrows.  Getting leopard spots or tiger stripes over your entire body is going to raise questions about why anyone would want to do that.

But a smaller tattoo, especially one easily covered by shorts and a short sleeved shirt?  Between the artist and themselves - unless there are job restrictions on ink (blood donor, some military, etc.) or you break up with that SO......not your parents' business.
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Re: Dear Prudie on tattoos
« Reply #25 on: May 08, 2013, 10:49:44 AM »
"You may not believe it, but if everything goes right, you will eventually be as old as your parents. Imagine Mom or Dad with a turtle on their clavicle or barbed wire around their biceps."

I've seen my dad every day of my life with paratrooper tats. Amazingly, it has neither dampened my respect for him nor made him a terrible person. It is not an embarrassment, it's part of who he is.

Her advice bites.
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Re: Dear Prudie on tattoos
« Reply #26 on: May 08, 2013, 10:54:41 AM »
I really had to agree with her, myself! 
But somewhere in the exchange there was the advice that you don't have to tell them about the tattoo and you don't have to hide it. If you choose to get it then if THEY happen to mention it you go on like it is not something to even discuss.

Slartibartfast

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Re: Dear Prudie on tattoos
« Reply #27 on: May 08, 2013, 10:55:54 AM »
I like Dan Savage's take on it - that every question is hypothetical except to one person.  Yes, that means sometimes he doesn't answer the specific question asked, but often he's addressing something bigger (a mindset that caused the question to be asked in the first place, an unasked question that's more important than the asked one, etc).  People in the comments section often jump on him for not including a specific aspect of an answer, but really, he just doesn't have the time or the space to fully evaluate everyone's situation.

(He also writes a lot more interesting of a column than Emily does, but a lot of that's due to the NSFW subject matter!)

Piratelvr1121

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Re: Dear Prudie on tattoos
« Reply #28 on: May 08, 2013, 12:03:25 PM »
"You may not believe it, but if everything goes right, you will eventually be as old as your parents. Imagine Mom or Dad with a turtle on their clavicle or barbed wire around their biceps."

I've seen my dad every day of my life with paratrooper tats. Amazingly, it has neither dampened my respect for him nor made him a terrible person. It is not an embarrassment, it's part of who he is.

Her advice bites.

My folks aren't inked, and in my whole extended family I can think of two people who are inked.  One aunt and one uncle.  The uncle's an idiot and the worst of all the redneck stereotypes but you know, he'd be that way without tattoos.  My godmother (the aunt) is cool and the only one in my family who understands where I'm coming from.  She showed me her ink a few years ago when we were talking about tattoos.  It was cute (a pair of cherries) and well done.

I've also seen ink on people of my parent's generations and the really well done and cared for tattoos still look really good.  My kids thought it was the coolest thing when I came home with my ink and they wanted to show it off to everyone.  :)
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Calistoga

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Re: Dear Prudie on tattoos
« Reply #29 on: May 08, 2013, 01:12:36 PM »
I admit, I'm a bit let down by the consensus in this thread. 

Regarding her not answering the asked question, that's pretty accepted as a response on this board.  Often a poster will ask how to politely say something, and we advise that the better solution is something else entirely (ask the roommate to move out, not go to the party, etc.) 

Regarding the advice to reconsider the tattoo itself, I believe the opinion that tattoos aren't a good idea is just as valid as the opinion that tattoos are a good idea.  Neither opinion has to be right or wrong, and it's OK to have either one.  (What one does with one's opinion is an entirely different matter, of course).

YMMV.

While it's quite common for people to suggest an alternate route that someone could take to deal with a problem, or address the much bigger problem at hand, I don't think I've ever seen posters just completely ignore the question at hand. If Prudie wants to suggest that the OP rethink a tattoo, that's fine...but she also needs to address the ACTUAL issue.

The answer to "I've decided to do this perfectly legitimate thing that my parents happen to not like. Should I let them know I've done it so they aren't surprised, or just keep it to myself?" is much different than "I want to do this thing. Should I?"