My Two Cents-Tattoos and Everyone's Opinion

Friday, July 11, 2014

I have tattoos. Lots of them.  I got my first one when I was 18. I payed for it myself and my mother went with me to get it.  She sat by the counter and talked to the receptionist the whole time I was there.  I'm sure it helped that the artist who did it had various degrees (including a BA in Graphic Design) posted on the wall in his area (station? I don't know), but she was completely at ease and never once tried to talk me out of it.  In fact,  a while after my sister and I both got our first ones she got one too.  My dad is the only one in my immediate family that is sans skin pictures. I once asked him why he doesn't have any and his response was simply, "Sara, I have no idea what I would get." Not "how awful, they're ugly" but an honest statement that wasn't the least bit judgmental or condescending of anyone's choices.  In this, I know I've been lucky.  
Being a very visibly tattooed woman in the world, I've discovered a few things.  Everyone seems to think that they have the authority to judge your appearance and say things that they wouldn't ever say to people who have decided to not to have pictures drawn on their body.  I say "skin pictures" and "having pictures drawn on your body" because in essence...that's all it is.  I choose to decorate myself differently than some people, and that shouldn't be a source of shame.  Some people color their hair, some people wear makeup, and some people don't.  Just as some people have tattoos and some don't.  I've heard stories of my friends being approached by strangers and being told that they'd be pretty if they didn't do that to their skin, or they don't need those "things" to be beautiful.  But really, when has that ever been the point?  We've all heard that women with tattoos are sluts, that they're trashy and will never find a real job.  I've never been told any of these things (to my face at least) but I have been the recipient of some really odd comments.  I've been told that my tattoos are really cool but, "I could never get that many because my parents would disown me" and that "I would never get tattoos on my arms like yours because what would I do on my wedding day?!"  
If you've ever said something like this to someone, I want you to really stop for a minute and think about what you're saying.  You're saying that, my parents have lower standards than yours because they choose to keep me in their lives because my skin choices are different than the "norm."  You're saying that any man that I marry isn't worth as much as a man that would choose you because you have bare arms and I have colors on mine.  Does this really sound like a logical and above all, POLITE thing to say to someone?  No, it doesn't.  
My parents have never been anything other than fully accepting of who I am.  My boyfriend, and any boyfriend that I've ever had has never had one negative thing to say about my tattoos.  I'm planning on getting a PhD, and while this doesn't make me any better than you or anyone else, it pretty much guarantees that I won't be stuck making minimum wage for the rest of my life.  I've actually only ever had maybe one or two jobs that asked me to cover them up.  I realize I have been extremely lucky in this, but it shouldn't be that way.
Honestly, I forget that I even have tattoos. And when I picture myself in my head, I can't see them.  Why? Maybe it's because I realize that they don't define me.  Maybe it's because I've accepted myself completely for who I am. Maybe everyone should do that too, and then we wouldn't feel so ready to judge everyone else just because their choices are different.

That's just my two-cents.

Also, here's a really good article on a similar topic. I find so few these days.


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