The Downfalls of Being Tattooed

I am a tattooed lady.

tattooed lady13

Right now I have 5 tattoos and they are all super badass.  Just kidding, they are really geeky.  Suffice it to say that David Bowie, Robert Heinlein, and Carl Jung are all featured on my skin–no portraits, just inspirations–and soon there will be either an Assimov or a Sagan.

I fucking love my tattoos and I love being tattooed.  I think tattoos are beautiful, expressive, unique, and fucking sexy.  I think they can show that you have fully taken ownership over your own skin.  This doesn’t mean you have to have tattoos to do this, of course.  But for me, I love them.  Good, well thought out tattoos are one of the most amazing things in the world to me.  I love the atmosphere of a tattoo shop and a good conversation with other people in the tattoo culture about their favorite styles and pieces.  I’ve wanted tattoos since my dad first read The Illustrated Man to me and my sisters.  I’m not heavily tattooed, but I hope to be one day.  I’m still young.

illustrated_man

However, there are a few things that I hate about being a tattooed lady:

1) Every time I start a new job/training placement I have to strategically plan my outfits during the first few weeks/months to keep them covered and then work my way up to slow reveals.  My tattoos are placed so that they are easily covered or revealed.  But I don’t like having to think about the professional ramifications of being tattooed.  My most recent placement was really tattoo-friendly, my supervisor had a few that she would show at times and had no problem with them.  However, previously placements have been less supportive and I found myself wearing long sleeves in June.  I have had almost exclusively good experiences with my clients about my tattoos.  It actually opened up an interesting conversation with a child client with an abuse history when she saw one and said “people aren’t supposed to touch you and that means drawing on you too!”  So we talked about how me and the “drawer” talked about him drawing on me and he wasn’t allowed to draw on me until I agreed on what we were drawing.  Parents haven’t really had a problem either.  Mostly my problems have been with administrators who tend to be more old-school and look down on tattoos or piercings.  It is disappointing and very frustrating.

2) I hate being touched by strangers because I have tattoos.  You don’t go to the museum and put your dirty, grubby hands on things do you?  You don’t walk up to non-tattooed people and grab at their skin because they have an interesting birthmark?  People who touch tattooed people should be slapped.  And my other problem with this is that it seems to only happen to girls.  I have asked a ton of dudes with tattoos if this has ever happened to them and they look at me like “Of course not!  Why would anyone do that?”  Only people without tattoos do this.  They grab and pull and trace the tattoo like you are a fucking freak.  I think this comes from the mistaken idea that people with tattoos somehow do not respect their body or have no boundaries.  I hate to break it to you, but we do.  We love our bodies, that is why we decorate them.  I also think that it partially comes from people thinking that we get tattoos to “shock” or otherwise be on display for others.  Again, FUCKING FALSE.   Go fuck yourself.  I get tattoos for much the same reason I wear eyeliner, because I like it and it makes me feel pretty and like an ultra badass.  Do not touch me.

tattoo etiquette

Oh, and on the same note, the other day, while walking home from CVS, some creeper was very obviously taking pictures of me!  I was wearing a strapless dress so tattoos were all out and this creepy fuck was just snapping some photos of my back on his iPhone!  WTF?  I dodged him in an alley before he could drug me and cut off my skin and hang it in his study.  Again, NOT OKAY!

3)  It’s really annoying to be stopped by people on the street asking what my tattoos mean and being expected to carry on a conversation about them.  I don’t like to talk to people.  Again, my tattoos are not for you or your amusement and I don’t like talking to people.  Ink does not change my natural tendency toward introversion.  I think because I have some script and such, people think there is some deep meaning to shit that I want to share with the world.  Nope.  Not the case.  I get slightly annoyed, but more amused when people think they know the meaning of the tattoo and are super off base.  I overheard someone whisper “that’s Vonnegut” to their glaring elevator friend in reference to my Heinlein tattoo.  I corrected in a tone that I felt equaled the rudeness of the glare.  Someone else began to tell me what a big Harry Potter fan they were when they saw my Bowie tattoo.  That was funny because I responded to his comments with ones about Bowie and I don’t think he caught on.  “OMG what did you think of X book?  That’s my favorite this part when Harry blah blah magic stuff!”  “Well, you  know Diamond Dogs is a really underrated album.  But it must have been hard to come out of the shadow of the Ziggy Stardust era.”  If I have be surrounded by idiots, I’m at least going to amuse myself.

4)  Gawkers and behind-the-back lecturers.  Recently, while on vacation with my best friend, we were on a little boat between islands in the Great Lakes.  We are both tattooed and lovely.  The ladies in front of us on the boat, with their “yay Jesus” apparel, began talking about how terrible tattoos were and how they could never respect anyone who did that to their bodies.  Implying very openly that we were degenerates.  So, I decided to fulfill their expectations.  I began talking loudly about how, when I was a child learning geography the word tricks I used to remember what a Peninsula was and hypothesizing about how many people died in the lake.  Please don’t gawk.  You get what you deserve when you loudly judge me, acting like I can’t hear you.  At least have the balls to turn around tell me I’m a bad person.

judging

5)  In the opposite vein, I hate being sexualized because I’m tattooed.  I did say I think tattoos are sexy.  Because they are.  I think they’re attractive on all people.  But having art on my does not reduce me to an object.  I remain a full, complex person even with ink.  Please respect that.  I have subscribed and “liked” a lot of pages about tattoos because I like to see different styles of art and I hope for more acceptance of tattoos.  Most of these pages encourage followers to  post pictures of themselves and their tattoos.  Almost immediately the women on these pages are rated on their looks, not their tattoos, as “10/10 would bang” and “She’s so gross” and every in between of that, even if the picture is not sexual in any way.  Their body is pieced apart and they are judged in a disgusting way.  I want to scream.  About 10% of the conversation is about the art or any actual encouragement for tattoo acceptance, the rest is criticizing the woman, her profession, her body.  INFURIATING!  It is very hard to love your tattoos and your body at the same time when you are a chick and feel like a person when people are picking it apart.  I can’t speak to this for guys, but I would like to know if they experience this.

I'm so sorry.  I thought this page was about tattoos, not porn.  I was clearly mistaken.  Carry on.

I’m so sorry. I thought this page was about tattoos, not porn. I was clearly mistaken. Carry on.

6)  Tribal/Cultural/Ethnic tattoos outside of your particular culture.  I’m not even starting on this.  It is a whole different rant.  But, white folks.  just stop.

I don’t really get bothered when people are like “What is that going to look like when you’re old” because I figure I’ll be funny looking when I’m old no matter what.  Nor do I care when people, mostly my gram, say things like “what about on you’re wedding day?”  Because, boyfriend and I are not having traditional marriage things anyway and, even if we did, why would I worry about covering up something I already think is beautiful on a day that I’m supposed to be all pretty anyway?

That is it.  I think.  IDK.  But I leave the non-tattooed world with this piece of advice regarding tattoo etiquette:

If you want to compliment someone’s tattoos, say this “Excuse me.  I’m sorry to bother you, but your tattoo is beautiful/interesting/unique….Have a nice day.”

Other comments/questions may follow in this fashion:

“I admire them.”
“Who is your artist?”
“I have been thinking about blah, what is your experience?”
etc in this vein.

If someone as awkward and socially inept as I am can figure this out, why can’t others?

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