I have a fascination with tattoos. I’ve gotten really into reading the Tattoo Tuesday feature on Sometimes Sweet, and it’s so interesting to see so many different tattoos on so many different people, and to read about their significance and the process of being tattooed.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the stigma surrounding tattoos and how silly it is. Quick anecdote: toward the end of high school, I told my mom that I wanted to get a full sleeve tattoo (sort of joking) and she almost started crying. I think she was concerned that I a) wanted to ruin my body with tattoos, b) was being openly rebellious, and c) would never get a job if I had tattoos.
The distrust/suspicion of people with visible tattoos seems to be a generational thing: I know lots of people’s parents who think that tattoos are only for hoodrats, but very few people my own age who feel the same way. And while there are some instances in which tattoos are an act of rebellion, I think they more commonly serve as symbolic art. People get tattoos to commemorate life milestones, to remember their heritage or people they’ve lost, to remind themselves that they can be the best versions of themselves, to say with art what they can’t say verbally. There will always be nimrods who get dumb tattoos that don’t mean anything to them, but for the most part, getting a tattoo is often more intentional and thoughtful than that.
I think tattoos can be really beautiful, and I don’t think it detracts anything from a person when they have tattoos. It’s not like your personality does a 180 when you get a tattoo; of all the people I know with tattoos, they have all stayed the same people they were pre-tat. The only difference is that they have some amazing artwork on their body now. If you’re so focused on thinking that nice-looking people are “ruining” their bodies with tattoos, you’ll never be able to see the beauty and meaning in what they’ve chosen to make part of their body. And as for the you’ll-never-get-a-job argument, I think that’s a pretty dated viewpoint. This is the 21st century, people: the word “tattoo” is not synonymous with unemployment. I have tattooed friends and they all manage to work for a living. Older folks will still hold onto their negative opinions regarding tattoos, but as my generation grows older, I suspect that tattoos will become more and more innocuous until they’re just a common everyday thing, like pierced ears, that fails to offend anyone. And if an employer can’t look past your tattoos to see your qualifications and personality, then that particular job probably wouldn’t be a good fit for you, anyway.
Undoubtedly, heavily tattooed people will run into the more conservative types who think if you’re tattooed then you’re quite obviously in a biker gang or recently sprung from prison, but I think that’s one reason I’m so drawn to the lifestyle. I wear dresses every day; I don’t even own a pair of pants. I try to portray myself as a classy young lady and full of femininity. I try to show the naysayers that they couldn’t be more wrong about tattooed women (or people in general). The most common thing I get is “How are you going to find a job?!” but I simply assure them that I have chosen a field which is much more understanding of body modifications and if I had to hide who I was at work, how on earth could I be happy doing that for a living?
I’m right there with ya, girl. Truer words were never spoken.