Mommyshame

STFU Parents: Parents Who Show Off Their Bad Tattoos On Facebook With Gusto

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A few days ago, I had a “teachable moment” when reading a friend’s status update on Facebook. He described being at a concert and watching a few girls take Snapchats of a guy who was dancing his heart out — i.e., dancing like a fool — and mocking him as they ignored the rest of the concert altogether. Several people wrote in the comments about how gross it is to take photos or videos of strangers and post them online, and how no one is better than anyone else. It’s weird, because I share that same philosophy and would never post a video like that online myself, and yet I’ve been writing STFU, Parents for years. I don’t believe any deserves to be “shamed,” but I’m also interested in the ways people present themselves online and the thinking behind the decisions they make. We all make choices in life, and some of those choices are, to put it mildly, questionable at best. Like all of the times I got multi-colored rubber bands for my braces that just made me look like I had food in my teeth. Why did I do that?

For me, there are only certain aesthetic choices worth mocking (but not exactly shaming), and those are the ones that have some amount of permanence. I couldn’t care less how a person wears her hair, but if she chooses to name her kid Princess Mykhennzhi, she’s got my attention. And when it comes to mocking truly subjective choices, like art, I usually put the focus primarily on art that lasts, like tattoos. Sure, I still enjoy curating a selection of ephemeral, outrageously bad (subjectively speaking) maternity photos from time to time for the sake of my own low-brow “art” — evil, cold-hearted ridicule — but those photos don’t represent the same permanence that a confusingly awful tattoo has. More so, I’m baffled by the enthusiasm and pride some parents take in their terrible tattoo ideas. I mean, don’t get me wrong, variety is the spice of life, and I’m damn happy there are so many people who cover themselves in body art (good, bad, and ugly), but let’s be real: Sometimes questionably good tattoos need to be compiled and displayed for amusement. I’m not knocking people for being unique, but I am putting their body art on blast and asking “Why? No, really. Why?”

Besides, I’m not the only one who wonders about odd tattoo trends, specifically among parents. Remember when everybody wrote about this guy for having a picture of his baby tattooed on his face?

1. faceIt was his choice, okay?! Maybe he’s only 20 years old, but he knew what he wanted and he went after it! Isn’t that what our parents and teachers are always telling us to do? (Side note: I wouldn’t have tattooed the ear lobe. Just throws the whole thing off for me.) It’s not like portraiture tattooing hasn’t been gaining popularity over the past decade, so why should this come as a surprise? Maybe most people choose to only frighten their loved ones with portraits of their kids’ faces on their legs or back, but who says the side of one’s face isn’t a perfectly good canvas for such a thing?

2. viral joke tattooThis is the ‘shopped photo going around the internet this week that inspired this column. You’re welcome!

More commonly, though, I would say the harrowing world of “parent tattoo trends” leans more toward the sentimental. Even the current baby portrait craze stem from pure emotional sentiment, rather than say, grief (since portraiture tattoo art was traditionally more of a remembrance tribute), but I would argue that the more popular fad these days is to “label” oneself with “a piece of their child.” One way of doing this is to tattoo your child’s birthmark onto yourself so you’re twinsies:

birthmark

This can and has been taken to extremes, though, such as in the case of these parents who both got identical birthmark tattoos to match their daughter’s, so she’ll grow up feeling “comfortable and not ashamed.” When asked about the possibility of her daughter’s birthmark fading or even disappearing over time (while the tattoos, of course, remain), the mother said, “We’ll treasure it forever, so even if hers does go she knows what was once on her leg.” That’s got to be one of the dumbest statements ever uttered about a giant, “painful” tattoo that lasts a lifetime. But hey, at least she’s confident in her decision. It’s never going away, so that’s important.

But back to the sentimental labeling: I’m fairly certain nothing perplexes me more than the trend of tattooing something that a child either wrote or drew by hand (or, in some cases, ate). I know people frequently get quotes or messages of encouragement tattooed in a specific person’s handwriting as a measure of comfort, but that doesn’t mean I can stand behind the parents who do this:

WTFRemind me not to run into Dawn in a dark alley. Anyone who has half her leg tattooed with pictures of her children’s nursery school pictures is probably, if not definitely, capable of cutting a bitch. It’s funny because tattoos like the “DAD I LOVE U” tattoo above are so sweet and inspired by such loving feelings, but if a guy I met on OK Cupid showed me this tattoo on a date, I’d be texting my friend under the table that I’m on a date with either The World’s #1 Dad or a completely deranged psychopath. To parents who get tattoos like this, though, their body art is an expression of the affection they feel toward their children. I can appreciate that, but when something can come across as either “aww-inducing” or “creepy as fuck,” my advice would be to veer away, or at least sleep on the idea for several years before plunking down the cash. I’m sure this dad still loves his tattoo three years later, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less weirded out by its existence.

With all of these trends in mind, and with Halloween just around the corner, let’s take a look at some other questionable-but-totally-subjective examples of tattoos parents got in honor of their kids. I’m not saying everyone will find these tattoos as stupefying or scary as I do, but I’d be surprised if anyone reading this column would be willing to get any tattoo replicas, even with significant financial compensation. Feel free to let me know in the comments if I’m wrong.

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