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Why A Denton County Children's Group Turned Down $3,000 From 'Tattooed Mommas'

The Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County won’t accept a $3,000 donation from the Tattooed Hippie Pirate Mommas.


The proceeds come from a pin-up calendar featuring ladies in tattoos. They are wearing dresses, posing on cars, in kitchens and on living room chairs. Tattooed Mommas is a moms’ group launched in North Texas for “anyone who is or loves a tattooed mom.”  

What’s wrong with the calendar?

The Advocacy Center works with dozens of Denton County law enforcement agencies to reduce trauma to young victims.

On Tuesday, the group posted a note on Facebook, saying that it appreciated the "generous offer" from the Tattooed Mommas. But the Advocacy Center said the calendar could be “perceived by some as sexual in nature.” The center said that its mission is to “provide justice and healing for children who are the victims of sexual abuse.”

The note concluded: “Unfortunately, we could not accept the proceeds of this pin-up calendar's sales because of the calendar's possible perception, and not the hard-working mothers who sponsored it."

What do the Tattooed Mommas say?

The Tattooed Mommasnever intended for the children's center to get bad publicity, but they question the agency's decision.

Stacy Willingham of Denton, who formed the Tattooed Mommas, is a mother who wears several tattoos. She told KERA on Tuesday night that people have been “overwhelmingly supportive” of her group and the message it’s trying to send.

“We are moms, not models, who are bonded together for support and love, as we raise our children,” Willingham told KERA. “We’re not focused on what other people think about us. We’re too busy trying to make a difference to notice.”

The Dallas Observer first reported on the issue on Tuesday.

Who are the Tattooed Mommas?

Tattooed Hippie Pirate Mommas is a group for “anyone who is or loves a tattooed mom.” Willingham formed the group in 2011 to “bring all unconventional, out-of-the-box mommas together.” The group was already attracting worldwide attention even before the pin-up calendar controversy. Last month, The Daily Mail in Britain wrote about the Tattooed Mommas.

What happens to the money?

Tattooed Mommas have yet to vote on another charity that should get the group’s donation. But Willingham says the group has numerous choices.

Reaction from Facebook:

Several people have posted on the Tattooed Mommas’ Facebook page:

  • “I got your lovely tattooed backs covered! It’s all good.”
  • "This is truly sad and I would hope that people will contact them as I plan on doing to let them know that small minds never grow an organization. However you ladies just keep on rollin' and good for you in your mission!!"
  • "I'm not a mama, and I don't even have a tattoo, but I love what you guys stand for! I hope to join when I have kiddos (and a tattoo)!"

They’re sounding off on the Advocacy Center’s Facebook page, too:

  • “It is very hard for me to wrap my head around your reasoning. As a child, enduring sexual abuse, I would have gladly accepted ANY help! It's unfortunate that children are being denied help because of your politics.”
  • “As someone who has worked directly in the past with CAC, I'm appalled at the backlash towards their decision. This organization has helped countless victims and done amazing things since its start. It's their position to decide what they will accept and why. I doubt this came from any malicious place and commend CAC staff for their commitment to child welfare.”
  • “As a mother of a victim of child abuse I appreciate the stance the advocacy center took. I do think they are looking at the best interest of the children. They have been nothing but helpful in helping my daughter and family from healing from sexual abuse.”
  • And some just hope people don't lose sight of what the Advocacy Center does -- helping abused children. "[I] hope this dies down very soon and I hope another organization can benefit from this generous donation. I know we hardly ever have to deal with negative headlines and public defamation. I can't wrap my head around that part. I wish every person out there beating up on the CAC could watch a forensic interview with a 4-year-old -- they may rethink their prosecution of the CAC and the NEED to protect their organization."

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Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.