Tattoos are, for some reason, a touchy subject for some people. Some members of older generations or certain cultures in particular are very anti-tattoo.
They still associate tattoos with crime, gangs, violence or Satan worship (yes, really) and are unwilling to take anybody with any kind of tattoo seriously.
Redditor Electronic_Animal_75 was unfortunately put in a situation where his wife, who has chest and arm tattoos, was set to meet his grandmother, who disapproves of tattoos because of organized crime violence she saw at a young age.
When he asked his wife to cover up her tattoos, it sparked some drama.
Needing objective feedback on whether or not he did something wrong, he went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA”:
“AITA for asking my wife to cover up her tattoos while meeting my grandma?”
Our original poster, or OP, talked about his grandma’s tattoo dilemma.
“My wife has tattoos covering her arms and chest. My parents grew up in Japan where tattoos are largely associated with gangs, so at first they were very against my wife’s.”
“However, after a lot of conversation, my parents were able to finally accept my wife’s tattoos.”
“My grandma, on the other hand, actually grew up surrounded by gangs. Her brother was in a gang and died while doing gang related activities, so she has a lot of bad memories associated with tattoos and gangs.”
“My wife and I got married during the pandemic, so my grandma hasn’t met my wife and doesn’t know about her tattoos. She really wants to meet my wife though.”
“We got news recently that my grandma is really sick and probably won’t live much longer, so my family all made plans to visit her ASAP since this could be the last time we see her.”
OP and his parents came up with the simplest possible solution.
“My parents and I suggested that my wife cover up her tattoos for this visit so that my grandma doesn’t freak out when she sees her.”
“And maybe during subsequent visits (if there are any more), we could slowly try to help my grandma get rid of her negative stigma surrounding tattoos so that my wife can comfortably show her tattoos around her.”
“But for this first, and possibly only, visit, we want my grandma to have a good and comfortable time with the family.”
“Well, my wife was pretty upset with the suggestion and said it is very misogynistic. She said her tattoos and body are an important part of who she is and she doesn’t want to cover it up.”
OP is torn and tried to give his wife an out.
“While I can kind of understand her, I’d honestly rather my wife just cover them up so that my grandma can have a stress free reunion with our family.”
“My wife also regularly wears long sleeve and other clothing that covers up her tattoos, so it’s not like I’m asking her to go out of her comfort zone.”
“I told my wife that if she was really that opposed to it, then she can stay home if she wants to, and she got even more upset. AITA for trying to get my wife to hide her tattoo?”
“Just to be a little more clear, when my parents were opposed to my wife’s tattoos, I was 100% on my wife’s side and fought hard to get my parents to accept them.”
“My grandma is a different case though because I don’t know if there’s enough time to change her opinion, and I don’t want her last visit with us being spent upset about tattoos.”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Reddit, though set to believe he would be in the wrong at first, largely ended up siding with OP.
“NTA- your grandmother is dying and any visits should be happy, not stressful. Your wife’s tattoos are a part of who she is and you don’t have a problem with that; it’s not like you ever ask her to cover them in other situations.”
“You also respected her opposition and gave her the option to stay home. It’s pretty immature and selfish on her part to make a big deal of this.”-psalmwest
“OP has pointed out that the wife wears things that cover them up sometimes, whether it is meant to hide them or not is unknown, but it didn’t bother the wife then and she clearly won’t have to buy something new or work hard to do it. So, it is clearly selfishness.”
“NTA OP. Imagine if your grandma, who is fragile on her death bed, gets so upset because of her trauma and it causes more problems. Stress is hard on the body.”-Logical-Demand-7925
“NTA. I’m covered in tattoos. And I have older family that aren’t fans of tattoos. I can suck it up for a few hours and cover them up when I see them.”
“Doesn’t bother me at all. I’m totally aware of generational gaps. If she doesn’t want to cover them up leave her a** home and go see your grandmother.”-radikaltruth
“NTA. I’m absolutely covered, including full sleeves, and if my SO, or anyone else for that matter, asked me to cover up for the reasons OP gave, there would be no hesitation.”
“We’ve all missed out on family time in the last year and a half and OP seeing his grandmother (possibly for the last time, though hopefully not) and having it be a positive and happy experience for her is more important than OPs SO being able to express her individuality.”
“Most people that are heavily tattooed are cognizant that some situations require covering up. This is one of them.”-heresyourfnname
After all, this may be the end of grandma’s life, so OP needs to prioritize.
“NTA – I think generally asking someone to hide their body to appease other people is absolutely wrong.”
“But, I understand the association with Yakuza, and given your cultural differences, and your grandmother’s elderly age and ailing health, I think your wife could take one for the team and wear a long sleeve shirt that covers her chest. You aren’t asking her to remove them.”-Ok-Succotash7483
“I was totally prepared to give a Y T A, but I stand corrected. NTA. There is real trauma associated with tattoos for your grandma and to top it off, she is unwell.”
“There is no reason your wife shouldn’t cover up her tattoos here. Coming from a woman, this is not misogynistic.”-Notsogoodadvicegiver
“NTA. This sounds like a very reasonable request given the circumstances. I have no idea how it can be misogynistic if people of male and female genders are asking her to do this for the benefit of another woman.”
“Sorry to be blunt, but maybe you should approach it like this if she hasn’t heard you yet. ‘Listen my grandmother is dying.'”
“‘She is about to leave this world. Can you just cover up your tattoos for her sake this one time? I understand to you it is an odd request, but this is very important to my family.’”
“If she has an issue with that, you may need to seek marriage counseling. I don’t understand why this would be such a big deal.”-DotNetDeveloperDude
“NTA. This is a completely reasonable request given the context. It is something that benefits both her and your grandma.”
“For your wife to call foul immediately and mentions words like misogynistic is somewhat concerning.”
“It just doesn’t apply in this situation. Either your wife is unaware of the context, or she is a completely unreasonable person.”
“Leaning towards the latter, as it seems you’ve communicated your reasons and concerns quite eloquently.”-gamatoto
And since someone’s life is literally at stake here, OP’s wife is not the priority.
“NTA. Sometimes, when we know someone had a terrible experience that has strong triggers (like your grandmothers), we make accommodations.”
“Your wife is wrong here, in that that this patently isn’t about her. This is a visit to an elderly relative in poor health who is still interested in meeting your wife and seeing you again.”
“Ask your wife to do a cost/benefit analysis of this… what does she have to gain in showing her tattoos? Would the negative impact on your grandmother be worth your wife’s showing them, just on principle?”-pdxflwerpwer
“NTA. Staying home should always be offered as an option to people who cannot reasonably compromise for whatever reason.”
“Covering tattoos is something people often do depending upon when its appropriate to show them. Generally people cover their tats at formal events, certain jobs etc. Does your wife have the same cultural background?”
“If not would she be open to being more thoroughly educated on traditional Japanese culture in regards to tattoos and also how elder members of the family are regarded?”
“Perhaps with more knowledge she would be more understanding about how her personal style could impact a frail older person from a traditional culture and their sense of comfort and also how it might be disruptive to a family gathering.”
“I would explain that you love her and her tattoos. That you love her just the way she is but that you really want whatever time you have left with your grandmother to be a time of building happy memories rather than engaging in conflict.”-WoodsColt
“NTA – I think your request is reasonable, considering your grandmother may be dying. There may not be time to get your grandmother used to your wife’s tattoos.”
“Is this a hill your wife is truly willing to die on? Is she one of those people whose entire personality is based on their ‘look?'”
“Visit your grandma without your wife and ask for forgiveness later. You don’t need your wife’s permission to visit your grandma and make this visit as nice as you can for her.”
“I don’t understand why your wife seems so willing to deliberately upset your grandma.”-Clare_schmare
“NTA – your grandmother is sick and dying, and really the least you can do is try to make sure she’s comfortable and doesn’t feel intimidated by triggers for her.”
“I had to deal with a similar situation with my grandmother who grew up in WWII Germany and developed schizophrenia.”
“While certain things we don’t agree with, we comply to make sure she’s in the best space mentally. I understand your wife’s frustration with the stigma of tattoos. But this sounds like a one-time deal.”-brandy8marie
This is a difficult and unreasonable situation OP has been put in, as acknowledged by Reddit.
Hopefully OP can find a peaceful solution.