DEAR ABBY: I am a mature, 21-year-old college student who has a tattoo. (Gasp!) I read your column religiously and was infuriated with "Worried Parents in Washington." Getting a tattoo does not make you a bad person, a criminal or more likely to commit a crime. I have never even been pulled over for speeding. My friends with tattoos have never been in trouble with the law either, nor have they any experience with drugs. Tattooing is a form of expression, and becoming more and more commonplace with young people. The art has been around for thousands of years.
I found the comment, "People with tattoos are usually individuals who have been or still are in prison, and tattoos are not reflective of our cultural background," particularly offensive. "Worried Parents" should allow their daughter to make her own decision to keep or remove her tattoo. It does not change the person she is or will be. They should back off and allow her to make her own choices and live with the aftermath. -- JENNIFER L. LEWIS, MARYVILLE, ILL.
DEAR JENNIFER: I wish you hadn't taken offense so quickly and had reread the sentence that bothered you. It read: "We discussed it with her and explained that in OUR country, people with tattoos are usually individuals who have been or still are in prison, and that tattoos are not reflective of OUR cultural background." In other words, they were raised in another culture where tattoos are less common and less accepted than they have become in this country. I agree that the tattoo will not change the daughter as a person.
The letter from "Worried Parents" needled more than a few readers. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I was shocked at the attitude of "Worried Parents in Washington." All my sister's friends at an all-girl Catholic school have tattoos, and they come from very high-class backgrounds.
Abby, those people can't control their daughter's entire life. Maybe if they had let her have a little more freedom when she was younger, this wouldn't have happened. -- JULIE IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR JULIE: We don't know whether the girl and her parents are in the U.S.A. permanently, or whether they plan to return to their country of origin in the next few years. In some countries, parents CAN control their daughters' entire lives.