Are Tattooed Moms the New Black?

Beauty & Style 95

tattoo on shoulderThree months ago, I was in downtown Chicago (I'm a suburbanite) and a lady who knows me better than any hairdresser ever will was engaging in a three-way conversation between the two of us and the guy next to her. While needles dug into my back, creating a bigger picture below the tattoo currently there, he explained that he was opening his own shop in a fairly affluent town a couple miles away.

We were discussing how a shop in aforementioned rich town would stay in business when he dropped a bombshell: the people he performs most tattoos on are not the biker guy next door or the sailor in town for a drunken debaucherous evening.


The people who get the most tattoos have slipped into the demographic that I, myself, fall into.

Soccer moms.

Now my own mother, bless her soul, saw my most recent design etched in black and white and awaiting color on my back and commented, "You look like the circus lady." Knowing her, I wasn't sure if that was intended as a compliment or an insult. Likely it was somewhere in between.

My tattoo is a phoenix rising above some clouds and air, not a chainsaw-wielding clown or a badly misspelled name, but it does take up half of my back. I began working on it several years ago, a cliched homage to the bullshit I've been through. Every time I add to the scene, it grows more beautiful. My tattoo artist is just that: an artist, and I'd call what I wear on my back "art" rather than "ink."

This isn't my only tattoo, either, but it's the most visible (the other two are on my feet). Most people will never see it and if they do, well, they generally compliment it, not turn their nose up in disgust or call me "the circus freak." Hell, with the exception of my mother, even tiny old grandmas compliment my tattoo.

Finding out that the greatest demographic receiving tattoos today is no longer the emo hipster but mini-van drivin' soccer moms (like me) has kinda thrown me through a loop. The tattoo industry has grown from being a rebellious sort of Eff-You to society to something we soccer moms just do as a reminder that we're more than the Legos we pick up and the butts we wipe. Tattooing is now the sixth fastest growing industry and successfully appealing toward the mainstream.

We're featured moms with tattoos here on The Stir, and the ink is beautifully etched in the skin of the staff and readers.

The new tattoo studios are created to appeal to us soccer moms: fine art on the walls, tattooing by appointment only, the ambiance of a health spa, rather than the "pick yer flash from the wall and get your damn ass over here" growling from the tattooers themselves as they angrily tattoo yet another flower on some teenager's ass, while smoking a cigarette and drinking out of a bottle of bourbon.

I hope that with tattoos going mainstream like this, they begin to be considered what they are: body art.

Except if you got a Tweety-Bird tattoo on your ankle one drunken night in Tijuana ... because that probably looks more like a donkey than anything else. The tattoo, I mean, not you. Luckily I know JUST the guy who can fix that up for you.

This makes me curious: how many of you out there have gotten tattoos recently? What made you do it? What do you have? Would YOUR mother call you a Circus Freak? If not, can she adopt me?

a mom's life, tattoos


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skrawli skrawli

Thats cool that people can get what they want on their bodies with out the sterotype being so negative.  I want one but I am more concerned with it sagging as I creep into my old age.  The last thing I want is a reminder to me or anyone else (I am in the room with naked)  that my skin is sagging!!!  But I do enjoy looking at what others get and finding out why. 

Laura Walter Pryst

I got ink in law school.  I want to get another one...oddly I have such a deathly fear of needles that I had three kids w/o an epidural...but tattoo needles don't cause me the same anxiety.  I haven't figured out what I want I wait.  

Lynette Loven Burnett

I also have tattoos. My mom did not call me a "circus freak", but she definitely does not understand why I have them. I, too, consider them art, and have noticed them on quite a few ladies in my age range (I will be 40 in a couple of weeks).

Wendy Green

I am also a tattooed soccer mom and I love my body art!  It's an expression of my inner self that I have had to work hard to try to find again since marriage, kids, and running a child care business left my former self in the dust.  My finest work is on my upper back and it is a hummingbird hovering over a lily with tribal designs around it.  I get so many compliments on it and I can't wait to add more to it.

CandiL CandiL

I have 3 tattoos!  My mother would never call me a circus freak she paid for one of them and I'm sure she'd adopt you if you'd like...she makes some awesome mac and cheese!!  I love my tattoos and will be getting some more here in the very near future!!  I have a tribal the tramp stamp area...a butterfly on my shoulder(my mom paid for this one) and I have one with 4 stars running down the side of my foot my cousin/best friend and I got these to match!  Soon I will have something for my 2 boys...once I figure out what I want and what I always want to remember them by when I look at the tat!!  It's an art form to me also...but each one brings back very special and very specific memories of "growing up"!  Even if I am kind of past the dragon, I will never change it or hide reminds me of an amazing time in my life a time I never want to forget just like the butterfly and the stars!!   

nonmember avatar A

I am 27 and have no tattoos. When I was in my early teens, I was SURE I'd get a tattoo when I turned 18. I even had a few things picked out. Man, am I GLAD I never went through with it. Tattoos show your age, not just because they sag when you get older, but because they are "trendy" just like everything else. Now, its trendy to get "ancient symbols" that make people feel philosophical and intelligent. 15 years go, it was "tribal" and "sun" and lower-back or "ho-tag" tattoos. In the recent years, its become popular to write things on your body, such as a name or "quote", particularly on women's wrists and men's arms. No, I will never get a tattoo. Just as I would never commit to wearing the same shirt for the rest of my life, I will never commit to wearing the same "body art", or whatever makes you feel "cool, hip, and edgy" calling your tacky cry for attention.

hotic... hoticedcoffee

I won't get a tattoo - for me, forcing ink into my skin with a needles is just, I dunno, wrong.  Also, they look lovely/sexy/cool when you're young and they're on a fresh, plump canvas of skin.  Not so much once that skin eeks past 50, starts to sag and droop. 

RanaA... RanaAurora

I have two tattoos that I got before I had kids, and I have plans for more.
My mom PAID for my first one as a birthday gift, and she also loves that I am very picky about my tattoos, choosing nothing that could end up dated or I would regret.

ArmyW... ArmyWifeAshlie

I have 4 tattoos, my best piece being on the lower part of my back. It's not a "tramp stamp", but a piece of art. People who catch glimpses ask to see the whole piece, and I constantly get compliments. My mother (who has several tattoos herself) asked that I not get more, and I just said "yeah, ooooookkkayyyy". I like my tattoos, all are able to be covered, and they all mean something to me. I can't wait to get my side piece.

nonmember avatar @xylophone

I can't even tell what I'm looking at in the posted picture. It looks like a blob of bruise on someone's shoulder. If that's the "phoenix" tattoo you were referring to, it looks overdone, like the "tattoo artist" over-did it and should have made the design more simple. I have no tattoos, but enjoy looking at them on others. Mostly because it's funny to see what others have done to themselves permanently. The "grandmas" that "compliment" you on your "art" are probably just making conversation, and I doubt they actually think it's cool.

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