Generation gap: Umbilical discord

Val is a single mum living in Hove, East Sussex. Her daughter Catherine, 15, begged to be allowed to have her navel pierced. Val considers herself easy-going but feared that Catherine would live to regret it. Now her daughter has gone ahead - and battle is about to commence on the subject of tattoos

Catherine

`She said well it's your body, don't blame me if it goes septic. I got it done and showed her and she went, "Ooh, how could you?" '

Last summer I saw this lady on the beach with a sarong on and she'd had her navel pierced and I thought it looked really nice. I was in my science class with a group of friends, and one of them said to me that she was going to have her belly button pierced and she was really nervous about it. I'm one of these people who likes to prove that they're not nervous, and I'm quite outgoing, so I said I'll come along with you. My friend had it done, and I went home and asked my mum if I could get mine done. First she said definitely not. Every time my friends came round she said: "Tell not to get her belly button pierced, because she'll regret it when she's older." Then I persuaded her. She said well it's your own body, don't blame me if it goes all septic. I went and got it done and showed my mum, and she went, "Ooh, how could you?" She didn't ground me, she just said, "Take care of it, but I don't agree with it and don't show it to me."

It took about five minutes. It didn't hurt because he numbed it up first with ice. I said can I watch how you do it, but he wouldn't let me in case I fell off the stool. The bloke who did it had his tongue pierced, an eyebrow pierced, and he had a big feather going through his ear.

My friend's bled a lot, but mine didn't. I had to clean it night and day and every time I had a bath I put antiseptic cream on it. My friend's went septic because she didn't clean it, and she had to have it removed - the skin grew through it.

I asked my mum, a while back, if I could have a tattoo, and she didn't like the idea at all. The woman who plays Rachel on Friends had it done and it looked really nice, but I wouldn't want it on my hip, I'd want it round the back: if you're wearing a bikini, it'd look quite nice. Only a little one. Then I said to my mum, "I am going to get my tattoo today," and I went to the shop and I let all these people jump the queue because I was too afraid. I eventually plucked up the courage after choosing which one I wanted (the black silhouette of a dragon with a long tail, superimposed over a reddy-orangey sun) and I said, "How much would it cost to have this done on my bum?" and he said "Have you got any ID? You have to be 18 or over." I said, "No," and he said, "Sorry, you're too young."

I was really annoyed. Then I got home and she said, "Well, where is it then?" you know, prepared for the worst. I said, "I couldn't get it done," and she said, "It's just as well."

But I would like to get one of those temporary ones: you can get them done on the pier, with a laser pen, it costs about pounds 10 and it just looks like a normal tattoo but after about a year it starts to fade as the skin drops off layer by layer. I had a fake tattoo on my ankle once; that was only meant to last a day but it lasted a week and was horrible, all chipping off.

I might got a moon and a star, or a simple, small heart. I think my mum will agree with the compromise.

Val

`I like to think I'm modern and with-it, so I never say "Never" and it's her body. I quite like the idea that she's trendy'

When I first saw it I thought "Yeuch!" I squirmed. I hate the idea of anything in the navel. To me, it's that bit where you poke about for bits of fluff when you're in the bath, and I think the idea of having something stuck in it is repulsive. It wasn't too bloody but it did look sore. I empathised, I was glad it wasn't me. When I had my ears pierced I screamed and all she was doing was putting the spirit on the cotton wool.

Then I started worrying about her at school, because she likes trampolining - she's very athletic - and I had visions of the ring getting caught in something and her hanging there suspended by the navel. Also, body piercing did have very punky associations and I didn't want her to have that kind of image.

I like to think I'm modern and with-it, so I never say "Never" and it's her body - so I advised her strongly against it, tried all the angles with her. I was very careful not to set up an "Oh yes you do, Oh no you don't," because I wanted her to actually think about it.

She's got an aquamarine-coloured synthetic stone in it. I quite like it now because it's pretty. Funnily enough, I do belly dancing and it's quite appropriate for that, but if I thought of having one done there'd be too much belly, you'd never get to see the sunken stone!

I quite like the idea that she's trendy, I think it's very important for kids to be approved of by their peers and she's got a nice figure. I was worried at first that her navel would get infected, but she does seem to be really sensible about it. She's kept it clean, bathed it properly.

Then she started asking me about tattoos. I'm really against that. I think the butterfly on Bo Derek's bum is quite sexy and pretty, but generally I don't like tattoos. I don't like the idea of not being able to get rid of them. And fashions change. I said to her it might be really trendy to have one now but in 10 years' time you might be wanting to get rid of it. I've seen people pick at them and they get all infected and horrible. Some of them aren't very artistic anyway.

We almost had a row, a few Saturdays ago, because she said, "Well I'm going to have it done," and I said, "Well, I really don't think you should," and I actually considered phoning up the tattooist and saying, "Do you realise this person is under 18 and it would be mutilation, and I'm going to inform the police." But the tattooist said she was too young.

I think at 16 you haven't quite made up your mind about things and she could regret it. And so I'm trying to persuade her to think ahead, think of all the possibilities. She might fall in love with somebody who really hates tattoos. I just think it could be a bit limiting for her.

But she now tells me there's a tattoo they can do that just colours the skin, and when the skin layers shed, it goes. And I thought that's not so bad. I just hate the idea of needles and permanency.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm - London

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea