DISCLAIMER: I in no way mean any disrespect to any readers who may have lower back tattoos in referring to the tattoos as “tramp stamps”. I assume you got them when you were of legal age to do so and respect your choice to express yourself however you choose. “Tramp stamp” is an inflammatory term I’m using purposefully to make a point. Also, it’s fun because it rhymes.
Recently my family and I and some of our friends went camping to a local State Park and recreational lake for the weekend. The weather was gorgeous and we were all enjoying sitting on the public beach watching our kids frolic in the water and soaking up the (soon to be) summer sun. People watching is fun, and I especially look forward to seeing some of the swimsuit choices of the locals around here. Not that I’m a skinny beach bunny and beyond reproach by any means! I’m well aware and perfectly okay with the fact that I’m putting myself out there too and am probably fodder for the 20 people or so who are sitting behind me. We all do it. So I was not surprised when my friend got my attention and said, “You see the little girl in the white and black bikini? WHAT is that? Is that a…” I wish real life had a soundtrack like the movies. Maybe then, as the pounding drums and rhythmic strings of the suspenseful “Jaws” theme alerted me to the horror I was about to witness, I would have been prepared for what I was about to see. But alas, there was no tell tale “Da nuh… Da nuh… Dun dun, Dun dun, Dun dun, Dun dun, Duh na na!!!!” I scanned the crowd at the water’s edge for something obvious. A ridiculous flotation device? A hideous swimsuit? And then my friend finished her sentence, “… a back tattoo? Is that what that is?!” Suddenly the term she had used, “little girl”, took on a new meaning and I began searching the teens and young ladies in the crowd. You know, someone older. Because when I think lower back tattoo, toddlers certainly aren’t the first thing that spring to my mind. But when I pressed my friend to clarify her description and she pointed out who she meant, that’s exactly what she was talking about- a toddler. There jumping around on the shore was an adorable 4 or 5 year old girl with a cute ruffly two piece on and then I saw it, as she twirled around, the unmistakable mark on her lower back. “No!” was my reaction. “Are you kidding me?”
That piqued my husband’s interest. “What? What are you guys talking about?” I shared the disheartening information all the while unable to look away from this sweet little girl. He took a gander himself and said, “It might be a birthmark…” as if it was too incredible to actually be true. There must be a more logical explanation. Yes, a black and white birthmark in the shape of a butterfly with horizontal scrolls WOULD make more sense. I wished it had been true. Once he realized it was indeed a baby “tramp stamp” he quickly tried to make himself and us feel better by stating it was probably one of those temporary ones that come off in a few days. Well Jesus! I certainly HOPE so!! Putting a temporary lower back tattoo on your pre-school daughter comes in second only to actually inking your little one!! We couldn’t believe it and it made me so sad. Why the hell are adults sexualizing little children? Why? WHY??!!!
Coincidentally, last week I stumbled upon a hilarious blog- stark. raving. mad. mommy. Her commentary on the top 10 skankeriffic sandals for girls had my sides hurting. She also has several other thoughts on trashy Halloween costumes for young children and the evil that is the Bratz Dolls. Sadly, there is lots of material for her to work with.
I’ll admit that after all my reading I was already sensitive to the penchant for some in this country to accelerate our daughters’ maturity and lower their self-esteem to the point where they’re getting plastic surgery and injecting themselves with Botox at age 8. Oh wait, that’s already happening. Or is it? I heard that mom changed her story. Shocker! Disturbingly, when I Googled “tramp stamps for children” I learned that a few years ago Toys ‘R Us was actually selling them in a gumball machine type of distribution system as you exit their store. “Mommy! Can I get a gumball? No! I mean a lower back tattoo? Or how bout this fun looking vial of crack that will make me forget all about the dumbing down of society so we’re all eventually a big melting pot of one brain celled slugs who can’t think for ourselves? Pleeeeeeeeezeee?!!” I wonder if Toys ‘R Us was actually testing the marketplace for a new item in the “Bella Dancerella product line… Bella Stripperella might have been popular. Especially after Miley Cyrus showed how much fun dancing on a pole can be at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards. (Did I mention the lower back tattoo machine was located right next to the Hannah Montana sticker machine at Toys ‘R Us? Coincidence? I think not.)
Oh, and speaking of dancing on a pole, I also learned from stark. raving. mad. mommy. that there’s a group of women who are teaching young girls pole dancing disguised as “fitness”. I know there are classes for grown women and that it’s an incredible workout. I get it. I’ve even seen some of the international pole dancing competitions on TV or YouTube or maybe it was just my husband describing a vivid dream, whatever. Those women aren’t strippers, have incredible strength and muscle tone and are mesmerizing to watch. Notice I’ve said “women” twice. The argument for the pole dancing classes for youngin’s is that it’s just a bar like in gymnastics only this one is vertical. That if you don’t dance provocatively on it and take off your clothes there’s nothing wrong with it. True. If you don’t dance provocatively on it and take off your clothes you’re not a stripper. It doesn’t make it right. To me. As Chris Rock once said, being the parent of a daughter means the one job you have in life is keeping her OFF the pole. There’s a connotation there- right or wrong. I’m sure it’s a great workout and there IS nothing wrong with advocating fitness and exercise. But there are other workouts that would be just as beneficial to young girls and not make sane people cringe or sick people search their wallets for dollar bills.
It’s times like these that I embrace the old Carter’s clothing slogan, “If they could just stay little ’till their Carter’s wear out.” Does Carter’s have a junior section? Because I see what’s coming very soon for my own little girl and I’m seriously considering taking up sewing. I’d put her 17 year old ass in a prom dress made by Carter’s so fast she’d get a burn from all that flannel and adorable tiny ribbon roses. When did we stop thinking that way and start wanting our daughters to work the street corner? Is the economy REALLY that bad?
Obviously I’m not saying that lower back tattoos and stripping or prostitution go hand in hand. That’s ridiculous. This is not a judgement on tattoos in general or people who get them at all. I know a lot of beautiful, intelligent women who have them and who are gainfully employed in traditional jobs. I’m not even saying this little girl we saw this weekend will end up walking around permanently in thigh high platform boots. What I’m saying is that I don’t understand why people are increasingly marketing to, buying for and allowing their young children to participate in what once was considered adult only activities. And this goes way beyond the candy cigarette days of old. My daughter is 10 and a friend of hers who is 11 showed up to the pool a few weeks ago with chemically highlighted hair and a black string bikini. What. The. Hell?????!!! I was honestly saddened. Okay, fine. The highlighted hair might have been a fun mommy-daughter day activity or something. I don’t know. But why can’t we have fun with our daughters by taking them to an age appropriate movie and then going for ice cream? At 11 years old your hair is the best it’s ever going to look! It’s healthy and uncontaminated and has natural, gorgeous highlights. Ugh. Don’t even get me started on the string bikini.
And before you say I’m a prude, let me reassure you, I’m not. I enjoy all kinds of adult fun. I do not, however, include my children. I’m not sure when this trend will stop. When will it go too far? To me, we’ve already gone off the deep end. Thank goodness there’s no lifeguard because that 15 year old, oiled up, hormone laced boy with the whistle might just get ideas that these young girls and their parents think are fun to play around with but in reality are completely serious. Grow up, America! Children, go to your rooms until you’re 18 before THIS happens for real. (Seriously, click the link.)