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I just recently read the um, “article” 16 questions people with tattoos are tired of answering. Actually I scanned through it, kind of rolling my eyes along the way because I’ve read this exact thing a hundred times before … and wrote it too. At least twice. So yes, in a way I can relate with most of the complaints in this article. And much worse.
I’ve got a few problems with people and their opinions about tattoos on the internet, and you know what? This is my blog so fuck it, I’m going to lay it all out right now. Again.
1. STRANGERS AND THEIR COMMENTS
I read the first four comments at the bottom of that article and nearly threw my computer across the room in frustration. Every time I read anything about tattoos online I tell myself “do not read the comments” and then for some reason I still go ahead and read them. They always include the same themes, some of which include:
1. The author of this article is a snob or bitch. Especially if written by a woman.
2. I have a tattoo and don’t mind people petting my arms on the subway.
3. You should be flattered by the attention.
4. You are an attention seeking whore who deserves everything you get.
5. You look ugly and are lesser being than I with pristine skin. Especially women.
“ Can you just rename this article, “16 Questions Bitchy, Pretentious People are Tired of Answering.”?” Danielle Rose Bernstein
“You should be flattered you are even being asked questions about it, pretending to care about a tattoo that you continue to flaunt with the secret intention of drawing attention. Sorry somebody tried to make normal conversation with you.” Emma Catherine LeCroy
“In other words: “I’m cool and I want you to look at me & think about how cool I am, just don’t you dare say anything to me that’s tattoo related because I’m a douche bag snob who prefers to bore you with my tattoo tales once I’m 6-sheets-to-the-wind drunk and/or stoned.” Alex Zander
“OMG, what an ink snob. Most people get tattoos for the constant public attention, now you want to bitch and moan about people being fascinated with your choice to scribble ink doodles all over your body? (insert Michelle Obama eye roll) “ Alex Zander
I have personally heard nearly every rude thing a person could say to me by now, both about my tattoos and my ass (ah, the joys of being a woman who has to walk in public) and have grown a rather thick skin about it … but a part of me still dreads the first few days of t-shirt and shorts weather every year. I always have to worry that I’ll get harassed. All that weird negative energy can fuck up my day.
Actually last summer I noticed that I must have crossed a line from “girl with tattoos” to “circus freak” though, because I suddenly got a lot less open criticism and a lot more “sick tats bro” comments and wide-eyed stares. Little old ladies and weird alcoholic men at the bus stop don’t tell me I won’t get a husband anymore. haha
But that doesn’t change the fact that there are thousands of women being talked about in this way, that they look like “a pile of trash” as that guy so eloquently put it. He’s probably not a statuesque picture of glorious handsomeness himself. Anyway, point is I’d like us to stop the trash talking based on appearances, mmkay guys? If I ever get a genie that may be one of my three wishes.
2. GENERALIZATIONS AND STEREOTYPING
So I guess this is going to be a three-part rant. Part two: lumping “people with tattoos” into one category. Do you think that the guy with jailhouse hand-poked face tattoos, a Maori elder tribesman, the new dad with the neck script of his kid’s name, the nice loyal customer of the shitty small-town tattooer, a Japanese tattooist, the sports-star college freshman with rib script, that girl with a faded ankle tattoo she got in Thailand and I have anything in common?
Maybe we do. But it’s not our tattoos.
Because tattoos have different origins, meanings, applications, foundations, and significance you cannot lump them all into the same ball of clay. It’s all about context. Appropriateness and meaning can depend on where you come from, where you are going, who you choose to keep company with, where and when you got tattooed, what your life looks like now and then and in the future, what your projections are, and where your priorities lie.
All this also completely depends on the culture, religions and norms of wherever you are in the world. I know firsthand that I’m lucky I live in such a liberal society (for the most part). In Mexico I was labelled a prostitute and a gangster on two separate occasions in two different towns, lol. I was also admired by a couple old Mayan ladies in a market in Oaxaca which made me feel super cool.
Fucking christ, internet, you cannot say “I am sick of people with tattoos” or “People with tattoos are ugly”. There is so much variation between people with tattoos it’s like saying “Canadians are ugly,” or “everyone who drives a car is stupid”. It makes no sense!
You don’t think certain tattoos are attractive on certain people? Oh, boy, congratulations! I don’t think orange tans or super high heels or expensive cars or Tap Out t-shirts or spending 40 hours a week in a gym is attractive. Do you see me commenting on every tanning article under the sun about skin cancer? No. And cancer is a legitimate concern.
I don’t go up to hippies wearing tie-dye and crocs and tell them they’ll never get a job or a husband, do I? No. Because how do I know? Maybe they’re brilliant. Maybe they’re eccentric. Maybe they’re idiots or burnouts or … anything. They could be anything. It’s none of my business. I don’t go around ruining their day because I don’t like how they look.
3. SPEAKING ON MY BEHALF
Another thing I take issue with is the fact that these “articles” (the “don’t say this to me about my tattoos” type) continue to be written in this exact same format over and over again. They are clearly written to be controversial and with the sole purpose of being shared and generating web traffic. They come off as condescending and are usually insulting to the “askers”.
Not everybody who asks questions is annoying or rude, it depends on the appropriateness of the conversations in the given situation. When I’m at work in the tattoo shop? Ask me anything. Downtown at the bus stop after dark? Don’t talk to me about anything at all, especially my appearance. Is the asker genuinely curious about something and not making fun of me to show off in front of their drunk friends? Go ahead. Is the asker sneakily taking pictures of me for some reason? Fuck off forever.
Last summer I had to tell a few people they were making me uncomfortable, because they came up to me in a public space and made a spectacle out of me when I was just on my way home from work, but I handled the situations with as much grace as I could muster. I think nine times out of ten it’s just a matter of defining your boundaries with a firm, yet kind hand.
People are curious and people are not always aware of social cues, sometimes you have to spell it out for them. I’ve also had to tell a man with doritos crumbs at the corners of his mouth not to kiss me at the bus stop before. He was mentally disabled, but still. These things happen. lol
So to wrap up, here are the two three cents I am throwing into this conversation:
Cent one: Don’t talk about my appearance as though I’m not as human as you are.
Cent two: Don’t lump me in with gangsters and weirdos.
Cent three: Don’t speak for me, I am my own person.
Do you have anything to add?