What not to say to a tattooed lady*

* or any tattooed person really

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This month I started my first session on my half sleeve, a tattoo which will extend from my shoulder to my elbow. This is not my first tattoo I have large pieces on both my legs as well as smaller pieces on my forearm, shoulder and feet. This simple fact made it all the more shocking that suddenly quite a number of people had an opinion or question about my latest piece. Some were fabulously complimentary and some down right rude.

One of my tattoos

If you don’t have tattoos please consider this a friendly information guide. If you do have tattoos I hope this provides you with a few giggles and retorts.

1. Did it hurt?

Well yes! Some tattoos will hurt more than others depending on size, location and well personal pain tolerance. After all it is an electrically powered needle puncturing your skin and injecting ink anything up to 3,000 times a minute. It’s gonna at least sting. Let’s make one thing clear though just because a tattoo of a pretty flower doesn’t mean it hurt any more or less than a picture of a gnarly skull. Most importantly the pain isn’t a factor for most people. It’s simply an unavoidable part of the process. My friend insightfully referred to it as suffering for your art and I think thats a fabulous way of looking at it.

2. What does it mean?

None of your beeswax! Not every tattoo needs to have a meaning. Some people love the art of tattoos, like bringing your favourite painting with you everywhere you go. But some tattoos are deeply personal to the individual that owns them. Not everyone is comfortable discussing what their tattoo means and they shouldn’t have to be. People have become bothered that I don’t regale them with a fabulous tale of triumph or sadness to accompany my ink. If you have to ask what the significance is I clearly don’t know you well enough to tell you, so pretty please don’t be rude enough to ask.

3. Why do you have so many?

Why the heck not? My tattoos are beautiful, I’m lucky enough to have found an incredibly talented artist who’s work I adore. So why wouldn’t I want more of it on my body, because they make me so very happy. People usually get tattoos to express themselves, ok some people do it because they want to look cool or because they are drunk but we can’t account for everyone. A tiny part of it is because it feels incredible to sit in an artists chair and turn your body into a beautiful canvas you sit and suffer through the pain to come out with a piece of art that will last forever.

4. You know they’re permanent right?

What?? You’re kidding right? You mean these won’t come off in the shower? Dude!! What am I gonna do now?
Yes I was actually asked this once. FYI they aren’t technically permanent you can get laser treatment or cover ups now it’s not end of the world territory. In fairness if you’re worried about the permanency element you probably shouldn’t be getting inked.

5. You’re mad/ mental/ crazy/ what are you like?/ (Insert belittling comment here)

I have long since passed the age where I can purchase and consume cigarettes and alcohol. I am entrusted to vote on important issues that impact our entire country and some decisions that have european significance. I am entrusted to drive a tonne of steel at speeds of up to 120kms per hour on our motorways. If I chose to I could have a child and be responsible for its entire well being (with obvious biological help) I can legally own and operate a firearm. I can do all of these things with very little being asked about my mental health. Yet I get a tattoo, a decision that impacts nobody but myself and my stability is questioned. I’ll let that one sink in.

6. I would only get tattooed by Kat Von D/ Megan Massacre/ Ami James/ Famous Person.

Good for you! Is there a reason you’re telling me this?

Another one of my artworks

7. What are you gonna do when you have kids?

Try not to drop or lose them, a bit like everyone else I would think.

8. What are you going to do when you’re 60?

Why is 60 the scary age? I was never scared of 60 until I got tattooed the general population suddenly became very concerned about what would happen to me at that age. I fear I may combust! Seriously though I’ll have enough sh*t to be getting on with by the time I get to 60. The rest of me is going to look quite different, my eyesight will be failing, my teeth will be falling out and I’ll just be rocking around doing my 60 year old thing. My tattoos will be the least of my worries. In fact they’ll be the prettiest thing about me when my boobs are in my shoes, god knows they don’t have far to travel.

9. You’ll never get a job.

I hate to break it to you but I have more than a job I have a career. I work hard in a profession that is challenging, creative and influential. Guess what it’s also charity work. I know a tattooed fiend doing something beneficial to society, the wonders will never cease. So thank you for the concern for my employment status but quit being so judgey.

10. Can I touch it?

No!! Do not touch me! Annoyingly 8 times out of 10 this question is asked when your ink is still healing. A new tattoo is an open wound. Would you rub your germy hand over someones scabby hand? I didn’t think so. So pretty please do not touch when the ink is new.

11. What does your mom say?

My wonderful Mother wholeheartedly acknowledges that she raised a determined, strong woman who is going to do what she pleases. My Mother paid for my first tattoo, on the condition that I went to an artist that she knew about, I researched what I wanted properly, I carried the picture around with me, I was over 18 and that it was a reasonable size/ location so that if it was all too painful it was a lesson learned. She’s a smart lady my mom, she is no more or less proud of me than if I had no tattoos because my mother isn’t judgey like that and thankfully she raised me with the same values.

12. Do you want to see mine?

Not particularly. If I’m interested in a game of show you mine show me yours I’ll ask, unless you’re Eddie Izzard.

This is less of a question but more of a final request. Pretty please don’t stare. It’s pretty obvious who is staring out of curiosity and who is gawking. The whiplash inducing head turns and grimaces usually give it away. Either way, staring is rude! I understand that tattooed people are interesting to look at but this is not a zoo. I know people are curious and I’ve answered so many questions about all of my tattoos. I’ve been rejected on dates because the individual in question couldn’t see a future with someone who was tattooed- chill out dude it was just a coffee, been told I have desecrated my body, told I was disgusting, someone even told me I could never be pretty because of my tattoos- you couldn’t get more feminine than my tattoos. Tattooed individuals are still people and deserving of respect. We choose not to look like everyone else but we are still people. Some of the most incredible people I know have tattoos, just think of all of the people you are cutting out of your life by not giving them a shot. And pretty please do not judge all tattooed people by what you see on “My Tattoo Hell” and other such documentaries those people should have had a dose of common sense or a chat with my mother before getting inked. Failing that their tattooist should have gotten a swift kick.

Love and tattoos,

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Originally Posted on Fe-line.co.uk on Posted on 22/05/2014 

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