Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Modern Parenthood

Obama daughters tattoo: There’s a loophole in the plan, says a newly tattooed mom

Obama's family tattoo plan to deter his daughters from the needle may backfire, says a newly tattooed mom who has come to see it as art that may be more than skin deep in family meaning.

By Lisa SuhayGuest Blogger / April 25, 2013

Obama daughters tattoo plan isn't going to work, says Lisa Suhay, pictured getting a tattoo from artist Brian Stringer at Fuzion Tattoo in Norfolk, Va.

Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

Enlarge

I started the clock on the first presidential "tramp stamp" when the president told the Today Show that he and first lady Michelle Obama had an immediate counterstrike to prevent his daughters, Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11, from getting tattoos. They would get identically placed and matching tattoos. This is one campaign promise requiring a term limit because lower lumbar tats are super painful — I should know, I got one two years ago.

Skip to next paragraph

Correspondent

Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.

Recent posts

In the interview, the president explained that he hoped the threat of a "family tattoo" would completely deter his daughters from inking their bodies during their teenage years. Yes, well, having a Secret Service detail on your teens is really the actual ink deterrent the Obamas have as a first line of defense.

However, as a mom who got a tattoo two years ago — a lower back/lumbar bit of ink that is often pejoratively tagged a “tramp stamp” — I am less inclined to see tattoos as the end of the world. Also, seeing things from the lawyerly perspective inherent in teenagers, I think the president left a loophole that can be artfully used to dodge the negatives currently associated with body art.

My tattoo is a “tribal” design that’s all black with no words. It’s a set of sharp-edged, interlocking strokes depicting, in a very broad sense, the elements of water and femininity I want to hold sacred as I age.

I liked the description of this style that I found on the website for Captain Brett’s Tattoo Shop in Newport, R.I., “Some Tattoos are self-motivated expressions of personal freedom and uniqueness. Most, however, have to do with traditions that mark a person as a member or nonmember of the local group, or express religious, magical, or spiritual beliefs and personal convictions. We all have a undeniable need to belong, this is the most basic Tribal need, and the reason for the Tribal Tattoos renewed power.”

Hmmmm, now if I wanted to belong to a group that shared my values, religious and social, I’d sure hope it was my family.

After all, what is a tribe but a family? By telling his daughters he and the first lady would make tattooing a family affair they were not being original and perhaps were actually making an excellent case for the girls to get inked.

Permissions

Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 

Doing Good

 

What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

 
 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!