THE BLOG
05/08/2013 02:02 pm ET | Updated Jul 08, 2013

Why I Don't Want My Daughter to Get a Tattoo

Shannon Sutherland

It was senior year of high school. Everyone was excited to end one phase of our lives and start a new one. We all had the chance to be a different person and start fresh. Many of my friends decided they wanted to start college with a new nose, stomach, or breasts. Their parents paid for this and while it seemed weird to me I didn't say anything because if it made them happy. Who was I to judge?

I decided I wanted to celebrate this change in my life with something as well. I didn't want to change the way I looked or forget who I was in high school. I wanted to do the opposite: I wanted to remember the moment in time forever with a piece of permanent art on my body in the form of a tattoo.

My best friend agreed, so we got matching tattoos that say, "I'm Lost." They were nicknamed The Lost Boys and as a result of being the only girl in the group, I was called Wendy. I feel like this tattoo sums up everything I was at that exact moment: a girl who had a great group of friends but was totally lost otherwise. I couldn't wait to show off my awesome tattoo to everyone I knew. Unfortunately, the majority of people I showed off my tattoo to did not feel the same way. They couldn't believe I destroyed my body with something that was as permanent as a tattoo. I didn't argue with them because I just didn't understand their logic. How was my tiny tattoo worse and more permanent than their new DD breasts?

Luckily, my tattoo was small enough that it was easy to hide. Barely anyone knew about my it, and it became second nature for me to gasp in horror when someone around me talked about the weird person they met with a giant tattoo. I never regretted my tattoo but I decided I would never get another one.

Then ten years later I experienced another life changing event; I became a mom. It was the happiest and most trying event of my life. The moment I went into labor I started a two-year battle with sleep deprivation, constant self-doubt, and postpartum depression. I still feel like I am jumping hurdles but something clicked around my daughter's second birthday and I finally felt like a mom. The title was starting to suit me and I wanted to celebrate this milestone with a new tattoo.

I knew exactly what I wanted to get. My husband's name is Aaron, my daughter's name is Amelia, and her favorite book is Dr. Suess's ABCs. So I decided on getting, "Big A Little A, What begins with A?" on my wrist. The "Big A" is my husband and the "Little A" is my daughter.

Initially I just wanted text, but with the honest advice of Alex Passapera at Rising Dragon Tattoo, I decided to add some art. What would a Dr. Suess tattoo be without one of his unique drawings? The second Alex suggested this I knew exactly what I wanted; the balloon in Oh The Places You'll Go!

Whenever I read this book to my daughter she gets very excited at the happy parts and mad at the sad parts. When she sees the balloon she screams, "Wow." I love this book because it reminds me that no matter what I do my daughter will be met with challenges and sometimes fall into slumps. That's life. I can't make everything perfect for her but I can love her and be there for her. My tattoo on my forearm reminds me of this.

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Alex Passapera did a great job with my tattoo and I am very proud of it. When people ask me about it I tell them the whole story with a smile on my face. I know many moms who got liposuction, tummy tucks, and even vaginal rejuvenation surgeries after they had their kids. I never judged them and I foolishly expected the same treatment. Instead, I was met with gasps and questions about what I will say if my daughter wants a tattoo when she is older.

I wasn't shocked by the reactions I received because you can't deny the social stigma that is attached with getting a tattoo. People of all backgrounds can agree on the fact that tattoos are horrible. I have never understood this. While many of my mom friends spent thousands of dollars on plastic surgeries, my tattoo only cost $300. While they wanted to hide or change what pregnancy did to their bodies I wanted to put artwork on mine. While their new body parts were inspired by someone else's idea of perfection, my tattoo is inspired by my daughter's favorite book. When you look at the motivation behind my tattoos they are anything but scandalous so when I thought about what I would say to my own daughter I was shocked by my answer.

If my daughter wants to get a tattoo I will give her a stern no.

Because I don't want her to get JUST a tattoo. One of my biggest fears is that she comes back from a college spring break vacation with a non-descriptive daisy on her ankle. I don't want her to get a tattoo just to get a tattoo the same way I don't want her to get plastic surgery just so she can look a certain way.

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I want my daughter to read books that inspire her. Make friends that will stick by her. Fall in love. Get married and have a baby if she so chooses. Go on adventures. Have an awesome dog or cat. Have a favorite artist. I want her to live her life with such intensity that it is filled with memorable experiences. The kind that will change her life permanently.

I don't want her to get just a tattoo, I want her to have experiences. And if she decides to get a tattoo to honor these experiences, who am I to judge?