Girl With Fringe Earings 2

My Tattoos Are Not a Free Ticket to My Body

Did you know that people who don’t have tattoos love to touch tattoos? Did you know that when you have a tattoo you’ll be asked about a million questions about it’s meaning, even if it’s extremely personal? Did you know that people will physically grab your hands to look at your tattoos up close? If you already knew  this then the chances are you have a visible tattoo on your body.  If you didn’t know these things, regardless of the ink on your skin or lack thereof, then you are about to find out that people tend to treat you differently when you have tattoos or any body modifications. When I say that people treat you differently, I’m not talking about the stigmas that tend to surround tattoos, I’m simply speaking about how respect for a person and their personal space seems to go out the window because of their body art.

Last December, while doing some Christmas shopping I was waiting to pay for some gifts when a middle-aged man came up to me and started a conversation. I was not in the mood for small talk, but he pushed further, forcing himself into my personal space. The next thing I knew he was grabbing my hand, and bringing it closer and closer to his face, as though he was inspecting me. I was not at all prepared for this and the cashier and I awkwardly made eye contact while this strange man continued to stare at the small tattoos on my hands. He proceeded to ask me what the tattoos represent, and then he told me his opinions on tattoos. I tried to laugh all of this off and not cause a scene while casually attempting to retrieve my hand from his grasp. He continued to interrogate me and finally began his rant about how he thinks that women should not have tattoos and that they are ugly. He told me that women who have tattoos are ugly and that it’s a shame I have some. The heavily tattooed cashier tried to change the topic of conversation, allowing me to have a breath of fresh air. The man kept going on his rant and said some other weird remarks to me about how I don’t have a wedding ring on my finger but a tattooed ring. I tuned him out and he finally took the hint that I did not want to talk to him and was losing my patience very quickly. 

This was one of the worst experiences I have dealt with regarding people who think they have a right to touch me because of my tattoos. I have been at parties where people will just reach out and touch the inside of my bicep or my shoulder where my other tattoos are. I have often been grabbed and asked personal questions by strangers simply because of my tattoos. Why can’t people simply admire? And from a distance at that. 

girl power 1 Kristen Bryant / Her Campus

I started building my tattoo collection before I turned 18, first doing stick and pokes in friends basements. I always knew I wanted to decorate my body with tattoos. Even just having a couple of tattooed dots on my fingers drew people’s attention. I got a lot of questions about what these series of three small dots on my ring finger meant and people often don’t seem to understand when I tell them that they have no meaning to me. I personally don’t believe that tattoos need to have any specific meaning, they can simply be things you like or art that you want on your body. My tattoos have started to become a part of me, they reflect who I am, they are a collection made only for me, to be admired by others.

I’ve heard many stories from some of my friends with full sleeves that are much worse than mine. People seem to feel entitled to another's body once they have ink under their skin, as though they are more interested in what tattoos feel like than the fact that they are touching a human being without that person’s consent. I have worked very hard on my tattoo collection, allowing each of the pieces I have to speak to each other and to me. This means that I spend a lot on some of my high-quality pieces and so I do not mind at all when someone wants to see them or ask me simple questions. The difference is that they have asked to see them closer, and none of my tattoos really have a personal meaning so when people ask about them I don’t mind. Many of my friends have faced some rough times in their lives and they have celebrated getting through those difficult moments with reminders on their body. These same friends have had strangers asking them about the meaning behind the name on their arm or the quote on their back and those things reflect some extremely personal moments in their life. I stick to a rule of thumb, compliment tattoos but don’t expect someone to tell you about the reasoning behind it. Tattooed people don’t owe the world an explanation for their tattoos just because they’re visible. I have had people stop me while I’m at work and ask if they can take pictures of my tattoos because some of them are quite unique, and I honestly love it when people do that. I personally enjoy sharing my tattoos with others when they are admiring the art I have chosen for myself, but that’s my own personal opinion. Not everyone enjoys sharing their tattoos with the world and sometimes people forget that, just like how people seem to forget that grabbing, pulling, touching, petting or removing clothing to see the tattoo better is not appropriate without a person’s consent. These are things we learned in kindergarten, why do we seem to forget the fundamental value of respect?