Help! My Mother Forced Us to Get Offensive Matching Tattoos. Now I Want Mine Gone.

Help! My Mother Forced Us to Get Offensive Matching Tattoos. Now I Want Mine Gone.


Dear Prudence,

When I was 18, my mom pressured me to get a matching tattoo with her. We aren’t particularly close and have never been—the matching tattoos were more performative (look! my daughter and I love each other!) than they were meaningful. I’ve regretted it since. I’m 25 now. I hate looking at the tattoo because it reminds me of how my mom forced me to do something I didn’t want to do, which feels representative of our entire relationship. She’s never respected my feelings or boundaries, and has always been manipulative. Unfortunately, I also hate the tattoo itself and what it represents.

It’s a small, simple line tattoo of a fleur-de-lys on my arm (my mom wanted it because my family is French-Canadian, and it’s on the Quebec flag). In the past few years I’ve come to understand how this is often a symbol of nationalism/provincial pride/racist ideologies that I don’t stand behind. I also just moved to Quebec, which heightens the problem—I feel like people see my tattoo and more readily associate it with nationalistic/separatist views I don’t hold and didn’t understand when I got the tattoo. It embarrasses me so much that I almost always have it covered by a Band-Aid or long sleeves, and I think about it constantly.

This is all to say that I want to get the tattoo covered up or removed ASAP. I know this will hurt my mom and rupture our (already bad) relationship, but at the same time I can’t stand having this on my body. I know that talking to her won’t help—she’ll frame it as me not loving her instead of understanding why I want it gone. What should I do? Do I need to tell her before I remove it? Or just go ahead with my plans and explain it later?

— Queasy Quebecer

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