I got my first tattoo the day after I turned 18, as many people do and as many people are told not to do, under any circumstances. The day I had it done, I was extremely nervous because it’s (A) in a particularly sensitive spot and (B) I’m a particularly sensitive person, literally nerve-wise. Afterward, though, I realized I absolutely loved it; cliche as it sounds, it felt like it had already been there for years. It’s a feminist symbol, and I do not regret it one bit considering I think there will be far more issues in my life if there is a day when I’m no longer a feminist than, say, a 3-inch tattoo.
Nowadays, I have tattoos on my feet, thighs, arms, back, ribcage, and pelvic region, as well as one scarification piece along my left rib area. I love all of these like treasured, sentimental artifacts, and I could probably go on about them for longer but I would bore both myself and you, so instead, I think we should just talk about the downside of tattoos: how other people react to them.
I’m not just talking about critics, I’m also talking about creeps.
Some people don’t seem to realize that tattoos are on my body. On it. The other day, I was smoking outside of a bar and suddenly the friend I was talking to got a very troubled look on her face. I was about to ask why when some guy came up behind me, reached through the bushes of the planter I was sitting on and touched my back tattoos.
Why? To tell me they’re “cool.”
Don’t do that, dude. It’s awkward and uncomfortable and really, really inappropriate. It’s like my mother always probably said at some point: Don’t compliment somebody unless you can restrain yourself from touching them. Ever.
The “no touching” rule also extends to tracers, who either come up behind me and run their hand over the outline of my shoulder tattoos or, in bars, use their finger to trace the face of my leg tattoo.
Anybody who thinks this is a good idea, please read: it is absolutely not. Do not do this without permission, which I will probably not give you if we are strangers because that is weird. Seriously.
3. “Won’t you regret that when you’re older?”
Do you really, truly believe I never asked myself that question before getting any of my tattoos? Are you seriously vain enough to believe that you’re the first person to ponder that? Could it be that you’re just that brilliant?
This happens primarily with my scarification piece, though sometimes anti-tattoo folks will do it for no particular reason. It is tiresome and it is rude. Not to mention uncreative, but they don’t realize that, do they?
Of course, they don’t.
5. “You’ll regret it when you’re older.”
For the 390849034th time: when I am old, all my skin will sag. I will have age spots. I will have wrinkles. I will have hairs in places that did not used to have hairs. And that is a-okay with me, so what difference does it make if my saggy, spotty, crinkly skin has trees or words or whatever on it? If they distort, then that’s because my body is distorted and that’s okay with me. So, is that okay with other people? Well…
6. “Wanna see mine?”
If I know a person, this is a-okay! If I do not, then…no. It’s awkward because I do not know where those tattoos are; for all I know, you could be that guy with a dragon tattooed to your scrotum.
7. “I have one on my [ass/dick/balls]…”
The more extreme version of #6, for dudes who really like telling women too much personal information. This seems to primarily serve as a provocation for an uncomfortable reaction, and it is really not cool. I don’t know you. And now, I don’t want to know you.
8. “That’s insane.”
OK, thanks? A lot of these comments are followed up by, “I mean, you’re not crazy, but like, that is crazy and I would never do it. But it’s cool that you do!… But that’s insane.”
9. “What do your tattoos mean?”
Jamie went over this a while back because for some reason, people use this as a pickup line constantly. It’s not inherently insulting or obnoxious, but it is frustrating to be in a public bathroom or at a bar and have somebody who doesn’t even introduce him or herself just start inquiring about your tattoo’s “meaning,” as though all of them are supposed to have one. Sometimes, tattoos mean nothing, like all things.
Most of mine do, but a couple of them are just aesthetically pleasing to me and have maybe one or two elements that are sentimental. But this isn’t Miami Ink, and not every piece of body modification is a big ol’ life metaphor.
10. “Aren’t you worried about getting a job?”
Fun fact: I have a job! A full-time one, with a salary and benefits and coworkers who inexplicably like me and Xbox in our office’s break room. I type all day so that people can read GIF posts and studies about sex!
So, no…I’m not. And I get that people are still under the impression that having tattoos is a huge employment dealbreaker, but for many career paths, it isn’t. Assuming people all take the same one is ridiculous, and absolutely not a judgment that’s appropriate or polite to make regarding other people’s lives. I’ll worry about my finances, mmk?
11. “Here’s what you should do next…”
This happens entirely too often, and it’s f’ing annoying. My half-sleeve isn’t done yet and people constantly tell me what I should add (in a non-joking way), touch it, and tell me what to do. Completely unsolicited advice is…well, unsolicited.
So don’t give it to me, as I’m pretty sure I don’t run around telling everyone what to do with their hair just because I personally dig side-swept bangs.
12. “Can I take a picture of them?”
I get that people sometimes take photos as references for their own body art, and a reputable artist will never copy another person’s body art (unless it’s with their explicit permission, such as with a couple of tattoos), but some less-ethical ones might and that is absolutely not okay. Plus, having a stranger request your photo — or, worse, take it without your permission — is generally uncomfortable no matter what.
…Unless it’s Saul, naturally.
13. “Only trashy people get tattoos.”
And then it’s just like:
But, chances are, I won’t be changing anybody’s mind who already thinks this so…
I give up.
Top photo: Tumblr.