Letters to my Son: On Tattoos

Dear J,

Some thoughts on getting tattoos.  I’m old enough to have seen how fast this trend has caught on and like most trends tattoos won’t be popular forever.  However, you’ll carry the ink long after the trend has gone out of style.  And who knows?  By the time you need this advice the world may have moved on and all this may be a moot point.  But I’ll make it anyway.

First, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a tattoo in and of itself.  I am personally not a fan of them because I believe they reduce the body to mere canvas at best and billboard at worst.  The first thing people see on an overly-tattooed person is not the person, but the ink.  When I see someone with a lot of skin covered, my first thought is that they have put on a piece of clothing they can never take off.  If you need to express your ideas use an actual canvas.

Second, while there are adults who choose to get tattoos, it seems the majority are fresh out of high school, in college, or meandering through their twenties.  I have been at all these stages and I can tell you a cold, hard fact about life — these years are not the ones to do permanent things to your body.  Someone might say, “But people get married, choose careers, and have children during these years and you consider that a good thing!”  Yes, and the difference is that those things, by nature, change you.  They demand things from you and forge your character.  Tattoos are expressions of ideas and I promise you that your tastes and ideas will mature and change. The ink will not.

Third (and finally), although this may change by the time you’re in a career, I have never met a doctor, lawyer, businessman, engineer, or otherwise well-respected professional man or woman with tattoos up to their chin.  There may be some, but it’s very rare.  This is the world you live in and to some degree you must play by the rules.  Between two qualified candidates for a position where one is tattooed up to the hilt and the other isn’t, the non-tattooed one will probably get the job.  Is that fair?  Maybe not.  But it is the case.  And you have a moral responsibility to provide for you and your family.

With all that said, it’s your call.  But if I could sum up my whole point it would be – Don’t make this call lightly.


P.S.  I can’t guarantee that I won’t make fun of you if you do get one.


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About Keith

Christian, Conservative, Husband, Father, Writer.

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