Dear Readers: Every year I step away from my column for two weeks to work on other creative projects. (Anyone interested in my personal essays and photographs can subscribe to my free newsletter: amydickinson.substack.com).
I hope you enjoy these “Best Of” columns from 10 years ago. Today’s topic: Tattoos.
Dear Amy: I want my two best friends to be in my bridal party, however, they both have multiple large tattoos on their arms, chest and back that I think are hideous.
I adore my friends, but when I think of how their tattoos will look in my wedding photos, I cringe.
Should I ask other friends to be bridesmaids instead? Or should I have them in the wedding and have their body art be a major distraction?
I hate to think what my conservative grandparents will think about my tattooed bridesmaids.
Dear Madison: I suggest you approach this by being completely upfront, though not using the word “hideous.”
Tell them both: “I’m eager for you to be a bridesmaid, but my grandparents will be freaked out by your ink. Are you willing to wear a body art concealer on the day – or wear dresses with more coverage? I understand if you don’t want to do this. Either way, I want you to be with me on my wedding day.”
When a person agrees to be a bridesmaid, (depending on the style of the wedding) she also agrees to appear in whatever uniform the bride chooses. We all know that bridesmaid dresses are sometimes more unsightly that any tattoo, but on this day “hideous” is a bride’s prerogative. [May 2012]
Dear Amy: Although my husband and I enjoyed the letter from “Madison,” we both agree that your advice missed the mark.
You suggested that Madison be “completely upfront” with her friends – OK, good start – then you counseled her to weasel out and blame her grandparents – the old fogies. Yikes! Young people who have “multiple large tattoos on their arms, chest and back” in all probability don’t care what their own grandparents think, let alone someone else’s. Stating as certainty that the bride’s grandparents “will be freaked out” by her friends’ body ink is disingenuous.
The grandparents are not making the coverup request; the bride is. She needs to own up to her preference and not hide behind the specter of granny’s aesthetic disapproval.
– Robyn & Mark
Dear Robin & Mark: “Madison” did worry what her grandparents would think of her tattooed bridesmaids, but you are right – her first concern was her own dislike of “ink,” and she should not blame the fogies. [June 2012]
DEAR AMY: Tattoos don't repulse me, but I don't like them.
My long-term boyfriend has a few tattoos, all of which have special meaning to him.
Now he has decided to get a half-sleeve of tattoos. I don't particularly want his arms to be covered in artwork, but I know there's nothing I can do about it.
I haven't told him that I'd rather him not get more tattoos. I know it's his body and he can do what he desires with it, but I can't help but think that this will spiral out of control.
I don't want to date a guy who is covered in tattoos. Should I tell him? And if so, what should I say to make sure he knows I'm not forcing anything?
Dear Unsure: You convey a solid realization that your boyfriend has the right to do what he wishes with his own body. You can, however, weigh in.
Tattoos are privately chosen but publicly viewed. Let's imagine what it would be like if you didn't say anything in advance and your boyfriend's half-sleeve did repulse you.
You: "I really hate your ink.'' He: "Gee, do you think you might have mentioned this before I spent hours under the gun?''
You can say, "I'm not a huge fan of lots of tattoos. But I am a huge fan of yours. I'm not sure how I'll react to all of your new ink, but if it's what you really want, I'll do my best to embrace it.'' [August 2012]
Dear Amy: Future tattooers: Before you cover yourself with meaningful “artwork,” go visit a senior center. Take a long look at their once-firm flesh, and imagine it covered in unrecognizable ink. – Susan
Dear Susan: My awesome Uncle Harvey used to show me the battleship he’d had tattooed on his forearm during his time in the Merchant Marines. By the age of 80, that ship had definitely sailed. [September 2012]
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