Teenagers: hair, piercings and tatts. And universal truths.

When I was fifteen, my most rebellious deed was getting a perm. My mother warned me against it.

‘You’ll look like a poodle,’ she said, eyebrows raised.

I went ahead and got it done anyway. The fumes and acid solution alone should have killed me.

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Mum was wrong. I didn’t look like a poodle; I looked like a lion – with a fuzzy, dried out mane. It was beyond awful. (Photo above – not an actual pic of me. Mine is more hideous.)

At the time I had long hair…a week later, a pixie cut. For the next two years, I didn’t want to leave the house. I still don’t think my dad’s recovered.
Thankfully, Mum refrained from saying ‘I told you so.’

Now, I have my own teenagers.
A few years ago, my then 14-year-old son walked into the house one afternoon sporting a huge diamond (fake) earring. I continued cooking the spaghetti bolognaise. I think it was three days before the upkeep got to him and he took it out.

A couple of weeks ago Mia, now 14, had her hair dyed purple. I think it looks amazing.

mia5mia 6Yesterday afternoon I sat with her while she got more piercings in her ears, 2 x helix and a daith (not death!).
She already had the standard lobe x 2 and a tragus – although she is stretching one of the lobes in both ears…

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Mia 1Ouch. I couldn’t watch, although I must have because I did take photos at one stage. But I almost fainted, watching those needles!

I could feel the pain of the needles going through her ear cartilage. I can still feel it. Whilst we were there, Mia tried to convince me to get my ears pierced. No way!

I have no problem with colour or piercings, though on the drive home she did murmur something about a lip piercing which caused me to bite my own lips.

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But really, I don’t see the issue with self expression. It’s only hair and a few piercings. It’s not like she got a full back tattoo. (I have thoughts about that form of personal expression and freedom, but hey, there’s nothing I can do when she turns 18.)

I figure she’ll eventually get bored with me saying ‘Yeah, sure. Go ahead and do it.’
At least that’s the hope.

Where do you draw the line with self expression for teenagers?

16 thoughts on “Teenagers: hair, piercings and tatts. And universal truths.

  1. There comes a time when you can’t draw the line because they don’t listen. Three of my five kids have tattoos. One has an image of Mother Mary covering his entire inner arm. Don’t ask me why. He got a loan from Cash Converters to get it. I thought about suing Cash Converters but he’s over 18. My daughter has one that says “This too shall pass.” This is a girl who has been on two school trips overseas to the UK and France. Spoiled rotten. She has nothing that needs to pass. I might get one that says, “Failed Mother.”

    • Ha! you don’t sound like a “Failed Mother”. You sound very tolerant. And, yes, with regard to tatts, what can you do once they’re over 18? a loan from Cash Converters to get a tattoo of Mother Mary – is he a regular church goer? Quite a few of my sons’ friends have tattoos – everything from arrows to roses, owls and names. So far, neither of my sons – 17 and 19 – have expressed an interest in getting inked. At least whilst sober!

    • And the stretching looks like it would hurt. A lot. So far, Mia’s stretching has only been limited but she was eyeing the guy’s ears (who did her piercing) in awe!

  2. we havent hit this stage just yet, but given what I was like as a teenager.. I think I am going to have to keep a fairly open mind. I have two tattoos one of which my kids watched me get. But the rules is they must be18 if they want to live in this house with a tatoo on their body xx

  3. This post is so relevant to me right now Lisa. On Wednesday I am taking my newly turned 18 year old daughter to get her first tattoo (it is her birthday on Tuesday). Would I rather she didn’t get it? Absolutely. But I would also rather be there to make sure that the place she has chosen is reputable (and clean!) so I just have to take a deep breath and say “she’s a great kid and it’s only a tattoo.” That’s where my problem lies in that she IS a great kid but it worries me that people will judge her based upon having a tattoo, make assumptions that aren’t based on WHO she is but on WHAT she has on her body. She has a pierced nose and two studs in each ear. I begged her not to ruin her exquisite lips with a piercing (and succeeded) but she is still determined to get her septum pierced (think those rings that cows wear). She would love to have her ears stretched and to be honest, I would rather the septum piercing (pull that out and there’s no trace but pull out spacers and it’s off to the very expensive plastic surgeon to reconstruct your ear lobes.) I think the thing is that ultimately it is their body and their life. I had the permed hair and the blue eyeshadow but at the end of the day, they just disappeared as my personal style evolved. The problem with some piercings and tattoos is that they are there for a long time (or a lifetime if you can’t afford to have it reversed). But body modification is just another way they have of trying to work out who they really want to be. I often have people look horrified when I tell them she listens to heavily tattooed, hard core metal bands. But here’s the thing. When you look at the lyrics of these bands, their message is ‘be true to yourself, be kind to yourself and if you are struggling, you WILL get through it”. I would much rather my girls take away that message than the messages a lot of popular contemporary music sends out which is ‘dress like a slut, act like a hoe and guys will like you.” Which message would I prefer? The answer is simple. I would rather have my gorgeous, loving, sensitive daughter with her tattoos and piercings who loves listening to hard core metal like the Amity Affliction than a daughter who may conform to society’s expectations but who isn’t as sweet and kind a soul as she is.x

    • Hi Shell,
      I am with you 100%.
      Mia is stretching her ears. I would rather she didn’t but we have agreed to her stretching only so far as to stick a pencil through…compromise!

      As far as tatts, I would prefer she didn’t and have said definitely NOT until she’s 18. If, like your daughter, she decides she wants one, I’ll be there beside her, like I am with the piercings. Yes, I’ll gag but I will be there and will be supportive.

      In all honesty, certain people will judge you regardless of what you do or how you act, so I have tried to let that go. My daughter is very sure of herself and determined, as your daughter seems to be. I have every faith they are good people and will make informed decisions. We are very lucky. Good luck and let me know what kind of tattoo she decides to get! (Hopefully not a full back tatt of a snake in the Garden of Eden!)

      • Hi Lisa,
        No not a full back tattoo (thank goodness!!). The sentiment behind the tattoo is really sweet. She is going to get a Sweet Pea flower as that was what we called her when she was little. However, I have a little reprieve until she does it as it turned out to be way more expensive than she thought it would be so now has to save up the extra money! I’ll keep you posted:-)

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