I write in many genres on many platforms. One of those platforms was dedicated to the tattoo industry. In the past fifteen years, tattoos have gone from macabre to mainstream, due to an increase in their popularity because of shows like ‘Miami Ink’ and the current, ‘Ink Master’. More people getting tattoos is great for the industry itself but the increase in ink did not erase old judgments. Speaking from my own experience as I do with everything written on Mindless Peace, I knew what I was getting into when I started getting tattoos. As soon as I was legal, I got tattooed. I think I only planned to get one because there are not many places on the body that don’t change with time. That philosophy did not last and I have no complaints about the tattoos I wear today. What I do take issue with is not the pointless inquiry of what they will look like when I’m older because honestly, I forget they’re there. I’m also not bothered by issues with prospective employment because tattoos are concealable with makeup and/or clothing. Also, it’s hard to find a potential employee who isn’t tattooed these days. What I’ve developed around tattoos is not a complaint but a complex. I know I have tattoos, I was there when I got them. I know others know I have them because they’re easy to see but this does not make me an attraction. The complex I have is not the fear of being judged but that when I am judged it won’t be on my terms. If I hide them one day and flash them the next the perception people have of me changes, I see it on their face. This is mostly okay because it tells me right away who is superficial and who isn’t, all I have to do roll up a sleeve and see if you still like me and I’d certainly rather be judged for my tattoos than my disability but being underestimated because of either of these attributes is tiresome. My character and integrity remain regardless of what you think you see on the surface.
In 2019 the majority of humans have tattoos and they are not criminals, rapists, or pirates yet a stiff air remains when my tattoos are on full display. What was I thinking getting a bunch of tattoos if I didn’t want people to judge me for having them? Fair question. There is nothing I can do about it and those judgments say more about the person issuing them than me, the one being judged. I only wish that since I am going to be judged, who I am is not overlooked because of what I look like. The same thought applies to my disability or the Service Dog I do life with. These things are accouterments, they are not my definition.
Tattoos are so common now, why can’t we just leave it be? To me, tattoos are a personal subject that happens to be on public display. If I want to show them off I will, if I want to hide them I will. They’re my tattoos, not yours, they’re with me always. If I don’t want to go into the true explanation about the piece on my arm in the checkout line, I don’t have to and I don’t have to feel bad for not sharing. Tattoos are personal information. No one needs to know the details. Someone said once, “only a few people care, the rest are just curious.” Tattoos are not afforded the same respect as other personal aspects in life. Even if I’m with people I know, touching a part of my body to get a closer look is crossing a boundary, this makes me uncomfortable, please do not do that to anyone with tattoos. Don’t touch them. Do not reach across a wide table, grab me, and then proceed to tear apart the very personal meaning that I bothered to reveal. Ignorance is why tattooed people don’t bother going into honest explanation. Ignorance and unnecessary touching. I can touch me as I point out and explain, you cannot. It is an invasion of personal space and to me, it feels like it is within the realm of assault. Keep in mind I feel this disturbance in conversations I have with people I know. Don’t even get me started on how violating it feels when strangers stop to ‘read me.’ Questions are fine but please don’t think you’re entitled to an answer. Above all, with tattoos and every other topic, be respectful of the person you are conversing with. Tattooed people are people to.
The etiquette of not being physically or verbally intrusive is widely practiced among those who have tattoos because they understand a level of respect that people without tattoos seem to openly disregard. My tattoos are as public as they are private so if I do happen to legitimately explain the reasoning behind my artwork, be mindful that we have entered an intimate conversation. I’ve essentially pulled my pants down and am now asking for comments. The last thing I want to hear is something negative. It’s a feeling reminiscent of a scene in Silver Linings Playbook;To others, it may only be an image, one that is ridiculous or rock n roll but it’s not a picture on a wall that’s being critiqued. It’s my body that is being poked, stroked and stared at. Have some respect. Please and thank you.