This American Life is well-known and well-loved for its way of making stories out of, well, anything. But its new video series, Videos 4 U, isn’t just for telling stories; it’s for helping people to say the things they’ve been afraid to say. And most recently, enabled a woman named Maggie to reveal her tattoos to her supposedly conservative Christian parents—after keeping all 17 of them under wraps for 12 years.
The show filmed Maggie showing her tattoos to a minister, because if a priest could be fine with them, surely her parents would no longer believe that tattoos were just something for “people with motorcycles who probably dabble in drugs.” In fact, Maggie revealed that her early tattoos were mostly religious, she had a huge anchor illustration on her side dedicated to her parents, and all of her tattoos had some sort of meaning behind them. Even the minister couldn’t mind them.
And, it turns out, neither did Maggie’s parents. While she expected the worst, she realized that she had them all wrong. “It’s very easy for a lot of people to assume the worst in their parents and see them as these curmudgeony old people,” she said.
So, lesson to be learned: Your folks may not be the people you like to imagine them to be. And it might be about time to tell mom about that discreetly-placed tattoo you’ve been hiding from her for years.