Am I A Tramp?
Hell no! But today, one of my listeners really had me thinking about it. You see, he called and referred to a term I had never heard before…”tramp stamp”. Evidently, as defined by Wikipedia, a tattoo on your lower back is commonly seen as suggestive of promiscuity and often referred to as “tramp stamps”. I truly never heard that before.
It was a late night in 1994 in Philadelphia, on South Street, that I became stamped. I was a little bit of a prude, slightly conservative but willing to try new things and always up for a dare. Then it happened, we passed a popular tattoo parlor after a good philly cheese steak and a few drinks. We all stopped in our tracks and looked around and realized a dare was in the air. No better time than the present to see who could really hang!
So, in classic New York style, I said “that’s what’s up” and walked into my first and last tattoo parlor. I have never regretted it, until today. Does my teenage daughter know this term “tramp stamp”? Does she think her Mom is a tramp? Have I failed as a parent? All of this going through my head, sitting in the WAOK studio wondering if I have inadvertently ruined my self-image and given my daughter mixed messages. Okay, calm down Mo. It’s really not that deep.
Back in 1994, few people and especially African-Americans were layered in tattoos from head to toe as they are today. We were thinking of the jobs we wanted in the future, the image we were portraying to society and the beat down we would get when we got home and our parents saw the tattoos. To this day, I don’t think my mother or father even know I have been stamped.
Here’s the problem in 2012. You are being judged by all those tattoos on your face, neck, arms, hands, legs, ankles, feet and backside. You are yelling, don’t hire me. Argue the point if you want. Its artwork, it’s an expression of my inner creativity, its paying homage to my homeboy who got shot. Whatever! You are yelling at me and I am telling you, you are never dating my daughter! I’m not referring you to my human resources department.
So, I’m not a tramp after all! My daughter won’t be a tramp either (I pray). I was not stamped! I prefer to look at it as my being a woman who accepted a dare and discreetly placed a beautiful flower on the mid section of her back where no one can see or will see it. Just a secret between you and me.