Misspelled Tattoos: Is It Okay To Judge People Who Have Them?
Misspelled Tattoos: Is It Okay To Judge People Who Have Them? (Source: Alamy).

Hayden Panettiere’s explanation of her Italian tattoo with an extra letter prompted me to ask myself, Is it okay to judge those with misspelled tattoos?

Earlier, Ashley reported on Hayden Panettiere’s misspelled tattoo. The phrase “Vivere senza rimpianti” in Italian, which means “Live without regrets” in English, is tattooed on Panettiere’s ribcage as “Vivere senza rimipianti.” She jokes about it and says that she must now literally live with regrets, as she has a phrase in another language that she did not spell correctly permanently on her body. This brought up a question in my head: is it okay to judge others on their erroneous, misspelled tattoos?

First of all, it peeves me slightly when people get tattoos in languages that they do not speak and don’t even think to check any of these places first:

  • Google
  • A native speaker
  • Language to language dictionaries or phrasebooks
  • Educational textbooks
  • Literary works
  • Google Translate
  • F’ing Bing, if that’s your game

In short, it does not take a whole lot of time to proofread a tattoo in another language, given the advent of the Internet, particularly when it comes to something that is going to be on your body forever. This isn’t really about aesthetics — If you want to get an evil pink pony banging a personified rainbow dust mop, by all means, go for it! But if you’re like RihannaBritney Spears, and David Beckham and got misspelled tattoos in foreign languages, I can’t really help but shake my head a bit.

A while back, Panettiere defended her tattoo using the world’s worst excuse, saying she had just “put [her] own spin on it.” Last I checked, you typically don’t “put your own spin on” a language’s grammatical and spelling rules, so I didn’t really understand that explanation. I like her newer explanation, which takes the misstep lightheartedly but still in a straightforward manner, quite a bit more.

Nevertheless, a tattoo is not a blog post, an email, or even in a billboard — all of which primarily should consist of proper spelling and grammar, but even so, they’re still not permanent. When you put something permanently on your skin, you should probably give it a Google search or, much better yet, ask a native speaker with solid writing skills prior to getting it done. And if it’s in your native language, you should probably still ask a few people you trust to look it over, particularly if you don’t fancy yourself good with that sort of thing.

While the vast majority of individuals I’ve encountered who fall into this category did not do so intentionally, there are certainly reasons some people misspell tattoos on purpose. But those people typically realize prior to getting it done that viewers will likely not realize that and therefore will simply assume it was done unknowingly. In the same way that people who get facial tattoos or modifications in another very visible area must acknowledge that people will likely judge their decision, those who purposely get tattoos that appear incorrect sort of need to accept that not everybody will “get it.”

In general, having tattoos requires a certain amount of understanding that others will, again, not always “get it.” You don’t need to accept it, per se, but it is definitely there. In an ideal world, none of us would be judged negatively for our tattoos or any other body modifications, but in reality, it’s difficult not to look past certain things. Although I never really find myself saying “ew” about the way other people have chosen to make their bodies look (if I had a nickel for every time I got the “OH GOD, PUT IT AWAY” reaction toward my scarification, I could pay off my loans and get more tattoos), I can’t help having a negative reaction when I realize somebody’s tattoo is grammatically incorrect or spelled wrong. It automatically elicits an internal reaction of, “Well, they obviously didn’t think about this for very long, or else they would’ve taken the time to double-check. Also, remind me not to visit the tattoo artist who did it.” I’m not saying you need to plan tattoos for ages or anything, but I do think doing a quick Google search as spellcheck won’t exactly tie you down.

I guess what I’m saying is: no, I do not have any qualms with judging people’s tattoos that are incorrect. Yes, I realize that I don’t have to look at them, but if I happen to see one, I will probably have a non-positive reaction (that I will keep to myself unless it’s addressed). That said, I’m not all that critical of the person him- or herself — of all the faux pas in the world; having a misspelled tattoo is hardly up there as the worst.


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