Dos and Don’ts: How to Deal with Strangers Who Have Tattoos
- Do feel free to form an opinion about the piece itself. You are allowed to dislike my tattoos. Just please don’t dislike me solely because of that!
- Do ask where I got it done. My artist is wonderful and I love any chance to drop her name. She is a great artist and if somebody likes the work she’s done on me, I’m more than happy to recommend her to them.
- Do understand that I’m not your personal encyclopedia for tattooing. I’m happy to carry on a conversation with somebody who is interested, but a) I am not a professional and I am simply not able to answer technical questions, and b) I reserve the right to not answer your questions. I am not an endless knowledge bank. And even if I was, there’s no guaranteeing I’d be interested in or up to answering all of your questions.
- Don’t ask if it hurt. OF COURSE IT FUCKING HURT, YOU MORON. I got stabbed by needles millions of times, what do you think?! We all have varying tolerances for pain, and different locations on the body hurt more than others… but a general rule is that yes, it hurt.
- Don’t touch it. If it’s healed, it feels just like skin. If it’s not healed, then no it doesn’t feel like normal skin, but also it really doesn’t need to be touched while it’s healing. ALSO I DON’T KNOW YOU SO WHY THE HELL ARE YOU TOUCHING ME.
- Don’t ask for the story behind it. It’s one thing to ask what it means - for example, I have one that is in another language. I totally don’t mind translating it! But I got my tattoos for me. Not so I could share my life story with a stranger. Please don’t ask why I got it.
- Don’t ask if I have any others. This may not be true for everybody, but for me, I place my tattoos very carefully. I have some that are intentionally not visible, because I don’t want people to know about them. I’m okay with my loved ones knowing about them, but I don’t want to share them with strangers. If you can see one (or any), then feel free to assume that those are the ones I’ve chosen to let you see. Beyond that, it’s none of your business.
- Don’t take pictures without asking. I may be adorned with works of art, but this is still my body. And the idea of some rando taking a picture of my body without permission is really really creepy.
- Don’t pass judgment on me. You don’t know me and you don’t know anything about me. Your assumptions are probably wrong, and they’re just serving to reinforce stereotypes about the kinds of people who get tattoos. Those stereotypes may have been based in truth at one point, but these days, a tattoo is a perfectly acceptable form of self-expression. Just because you don’t understand it or don’t like it doesn’t make me a bad person.