I was sitting in a restaurant with another gentlemen much older than me. Our waitress was a young woman, fairly attractive, and covered from her neck down with tattoos. The gentlemen with me made a comment as the waitress walked away which I’m sure she heard. “Why would an attractive woman ruin her beauty with all those tattoos. One day she will regret doing that. Young people today don’t seem to be able to think past the moment.” While I didn’t verbalize my thoughts the way he did, I have to admit that I struggled as he did with why someone would do that to themselves.
Then a good friend of mine told me something recently that has completely changed my attitude towards all the tattoos we see on people today. I still don’t care for them or understand why people want to go through the process, but what my friend told me has given me a fresh desire to know the people behind the tattoos. He told me, “Whenever I see someone with a lot of tattoos, I say to them, ‘Every tatt has a story. Would you mind telling me yours?’”
For many of us over sixty (that’s me), it’s easy to begin to judge those who cover their bodies with tattoos. I remember one of the American Idol contestants a few years ago who covered half of her body with tattoos. She was a beautiful young lady with an incredible voice, but I found myself focusing more on the ugly tattoos I saw. I never stopped to consider her story and what those tattoos had to do with her story.
If there is to be trust and meaningful relationships between the generations, we need to care about each other’s story. That means often looking beyond things like tattoos or clothing or wrinkles. Every tatt has a story, but do we care enough about the story to put aside our personal opinions? It doesn’t mean we have to like some of the crazy things we see other people do to themselves, but it does mean learning to put things in perspective and not looking at outward appearances. (I think Jesus said something about that, didn’t He?)
That’s a hard thing to do at any age. But the relationships and stories we each have are well worth the effort.
How do you handle outward appearances that don’t match your own tastes? Have you ever asked someone with lots of tattoos about their story? What did you learn? I’d like to hear yours.