I was going through my closet trying to find something to wear for my video call with the entire executive team today and hesitated for a second when I went to grab a short-sleeved shirt. You see, I’m in an upper management position and work with a lot of conservative men. I also have a tattooed half sleeve.
Why do we automatically associate tattoos with a lack of intelligence or education? Why does it automatically make people assume that I ride around on the back of a Harley Davidson flipping people off with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth? I’m a college-educated, successful businesswoman and mom. I drive a Honda Pilot because it’s reliable and has great gas mileage but it’s basically one step away from a minivan. I cook with kale. We don’t own a motorcycle, I pay my taxes, and I go to bed at nine. I am not what you think I am at first glance.
My tattoos are badges of honor—pieces of life that I struggled to get through, and memories of those who have left me. My arm represents my family. The woman is me, and the owl represents my struggles with fertility and the asters are my daughter’s birth flowers. My newest piece is the bouquet I held as I walk down the aisle to say I do forever and ever. The plane on my back is the one that my dad flew passionately until he passed away. These pieces are custom art and they were insanely expensive. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on something to hang on my wall and where I can only admire it when I’m in that room, I spent that much to have it with me always. I spent years deciding what I wanted and I know it’s going to be on my body forever. I’m not an idiot.
It gets taken next level when we hit the town as a family. My husband is covered pretty much head to toe tattoos. Legs, arms, chest, neck. No, he’s not going to steal your wallet. No. he’s never been to prison. He’s an amazing (and oh so sexy thanks to those tats) father and husband. He mows the lawn every Saturday and does the dishes. He plays Barbies with our daughter and has a successful career. We are a typical family of three.
Will I get more? Absolutely. In true suburban mom fashion, I have a Pinterest board packed full of ideas. I won’t have to worry that my daughter will come back from Cancun with a terribly done butterfly tramp stamp surrounded by blown out and impossible to cover up tribal. She’s been raised with a respect and appreciation for the art. And her mom and dad will know exactly all of the best artists in town once she’s mature enough and ready for one…that is…if she ever wants one.
So to the lady side eyeing me over the bin of organic apples at Sprouts—I’m not going to judge you for not having tattoos. So don’t judge me for having them. Don’t make me worry that my next promotion may not happen because of the beautiful art I have on my body. Don’t assume I’m a terrible mother…don’t assume anything. I don’t need to prove myself to you or anyone else. Because what makes us different is also what makes us beautiful.
This post originally appeared on Living the High Life. It has been reprinted with permission.