It's kind of an undeniable fact in most cases: If you are a child of parents and have a tattoo, your parents probably don't like said tattoo. When they see said tattoo, they probably worry about myriad things -- including, but not limited to: your health, your job prospects, your possible inclusion in a devil-worshipping cult. The usual.
Well, since some of us over at MTV News are fellow tattooed folk (and we all got tattoos at legal ages and whatnot -- as should you), we've decided to help you put your rents' minds at ease with help from a few very official experts. So, without further ado, here's why your parents shouldn't worry about your tattoo(s).
And, hey, if all else fails, just show 'em that photo of Ed Sheeran. Parents love Ed Sheeran.
Even Religious People Have Tattoos
When your parents think tattoos, they might think bikers and punk rockers and, I dunno, people with stereotypically loose morals or whatever (not that bikers and punks ACTUALLY have loose morals). Well, the next time Mom gets on your a$$ about that "Mom" ink on your a$$ (a little weird!), you can tell her that the practice of getting tatted is actually kind of ... holy.
"Christian tattoos -- they were traditional marks of pilgrimage, traditional marks of faith," Anna Felicity Friedman, a tattoo historian and blogger, told MTV News. "Those types of traditional Christian tattoos have always been inscribed and still are inscribed today."
There's even a family in Jerusalem’s Old City that's famous for inking up Orthodox Christians hitting up the Holy Land -- and they've been doing so for hundreds of years. Those tattoos represent a pilgrimage to the people who get them -- one that will last until the grave.
Sure, your Harry Styles-inspired bird ink might not be quite, well, holy, but it does represent something that's important to you -- and you having those feathered beasts prancing across your chest doesn't make you a soulless pagan, so, chill, Dad.
Colonial-Era Kids With (Involuntary) Face Tats Grew Up To Be Successful Adults With Face Tats
Back in the olden days, children were sometimes abducted during tussles between Native Americans and settlers -- and those children were sometimes tattooed so that they could be integrated into their new families.
Friedman cites the Talon children as a famous example of such a case -- the French children were abducted by Native Americans during a raid in Texas and were all facially tattooed. A few of the children eventually made their way back into colonial society with, as Friedman says, no issues. "A couple of them ended in fairly prominent positions in colonial American society, tattooed as children," she said.
See, Mom, fairly prominent positions. Calm down.
You Can Have A Tattoo AND A Job
OK, so this is a tricky one. A recent study from Pew Research Center showed that 40% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo -- BUT a similarly recent survey by Salary.com showed that 76% of respondents thought tats had a negative impact on being hired. HOWEVER, according to career and workplace expert Dan Schawbel, those stats probably won't work against you if you have ink.
"It depends on the brand you’re working for and the nature of your job and the expectations of your job," he told MTV News. "So, in certain fields, so if you’re in the creative space, you’ll usually see visible tattoos in the work space." (I can attest to the truth in that statement -- being a tattooed human who has somehow managed to acquire more than one job in creative spaces.)
"I think that when millennials are in charge of companies -- a lot of them are managers now at something like 30 --- you’re going to see that it’s going to be more acceptable," he added. "With so many millennials having at least one tattoo, it’s going to be more acceptable, because the people who are managing and hiring millennials or even Gen Zs already have a tattoo."
And for those of us working at more strait-laced companies for older folks? Long sleeves are always an option, but Schawbel pointed out an even more effective defense: "The ultimate way to get around it is to be good at your job. Like, if you’re the number-one developer in the world, people are going to hire you. Your whole body could be a tattoo and you’d be hired."
Hey, It's Better For You Than Tanning
I won't lie to you, guys: There are some health risks associated with tattoos. Naturally, you should avoid unskilled artists and unclean workspaces and/or getting tattoos at the spur of the moment while intoxicated. But you can also have an allergic reaction to the ink, according to dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee. She suggests testing your skin with the desired ink in a more discrete place before committing to a whole tattoo.
But when it comes to more dangerous side-effects like, I dunno, CANCER, Lee says there's a bigger culprit than tattoos. "To me, [tanning] is much worse than getting a tattoo," she said. "There are fewer tattoos, more people tan. And it definitely is a higher cause for skin cancer than tattooing. I don’t like it when they talk about vacation on a commercial and they throw in that you’re going to a tanning bed to get ready for it, because to me it’s like saying, ‘It’s OK to smoke.'"
So there you go: Smoking and tanning = BAD, Tattooing = Just make sure to be safe, OK?
It Could Mean Something. It Could Really Mean Something
There are a lot of reasons WHY people get tattoos: to remember a friend, to mark a momentous occasion, because it's a beautiful art form. One of the most powerful reasons we've heard lately, however, is associated with Project Semicolon, described as “a faith-based non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury.”
Translation: People who have struggled with mental illness, or have a loved one who has struggled, have been getting semicolon tats to mark an instance when someone could have ended their life -- but didn't.
Yup, ink can be powerful. It's permanent. It's a big decision. And, when all is said and done, it's one that's yours to make.