I have thirteen tattoos. I started getting tattooed a decade ago and other than my pregnancy and Wade’s baby stage I’ve gotten tattooed pretty regularly. I’ve got big tattoos. Weird tattoos. Conversation-starter tattoos. But something about this sleeve has…changed…the way other humans interact with me. And it’s got me thinking.
So when I was younger – a teenager – I never thought I’d get a tattoo. And if I did it would be black and gray. STEEPED in meaning. And hidden. Special and secret to me. Well. My first tattoo was a teal and purple dragon named Smirnoff. I got him because he was cute, and I wanted a tattoo. He was on my ankle.
I don’t regret getting the tattoo. I loved him. I had him for a decade. He is now covered up, but only because the artist chose to do it. I got this tattoo when my ex and I first started dating. He was apprenticing to be a tattoo artist and he drew this design, but his mentor tattooed it on me. When it was decided that we were getting divorced, I reached out to that artist and told him I thought it would be symbolic to get another tattoo by him as I start this next phase of my life.
He came up with the design and placement and decided to cover up the dragon. I can give it meaning post-application…the dragon was covered up by a cracked black pot, symbolizing the darkness of my past, of which new life is springing forth (the plant). A chameleon is able to change its colors to blend into any environment, which is symbolic of resilience…or something. Plus it’s eating a bug, which could represent my ex or whatever. lolol Anyway – the point is it’s not the tattoo itself that’s symbolic. It’s the time in my life that I got it, and the artist that did it.
But it’s none of your fucking business WHAT the meaning behind it is.
Anyway…I’m losing focus. I can’t write short posts about anything meaningful. I have to ramble to get all the thoughts out of my brain, I guess. Bare with me.
I have thirteen tattoos. Fifteen if you count the two cover-ups. Literally none of them have any deep or hidden meaning. The most meaningful one I ever got was the heart on my ring finger after I got married, and that one is my biggest regret. Well, I guess my new sleeve has Wade in it. And I doubt I’ll ever regret that one.
I’ve gotten compliments. I’ve gotten questions. Very rarely does anyone ever try to touch them. A teenager thought my Russell Brand was Johnny Depp. -_- The worst part is when I said no, it’s Russell Brand he thought for a second and said “Oh, the guy from Bedtime Stories.” My God, man…there are so many better movies to reference over that one. But okay. Yes.
I’ve honestly never really thought about that interaction. It’s never bothered me to get compliments/comments from strangers on any of my tattoos in the past. I like the fact that people appreciate the artwork I’ve chosen to put on my body. It’s not any different, imo, than if someone were to compliment your outfit or your haircut.
This new tattoo has changed things. Maybe it’s more visible? I don’t know. I’m getting a TON of comments from strangers. All complimentary! That doesn’t bother me, other than the exhaustion that comes with interacting with humans. I’ve gotten a surprising number of questions from friends/family/acquaintances about the meaning behind it. I don’t really know why?? Maybe it looks like it would have some deep meaning?
That kind of annoys me. I don’t care how close we are, it’s my opinion that if my tattoo has meaning and I want you to know that meaning – I will tell you. I’m not mad at anyone that has asked, if you’ve asked and are reading this and think I’m upset with you! I just…don’t understand how that is culturally acceptable?
That’s not even the part that bothers me. Here’s the part that bothers me.
I was talking to people about this. The two people I was talking to don’t have any tattoos. One has a tattoo he’s wanted for a long time but hasn’t gone through with it yet. He’s very extroverted and wants to use his tattoo as a way to initiate conversations with people. The other is a bit older…like maybe could’ve been my father if he was VERY young when I was born. lol! Just for context.
They seem to think that the act of getting a tattoo is indicative of wanting attention. In their eyes the POINT of a tattoo is to initiate conversations with strangers. “Why would you get a tattoo if you don’t want to talk to people about it?” Bitch, because I want it for myself. They compared it to dying your hair an unnatural color, or wearing bright/flashy clothing.
My “otherness” to your perceived “normal” does not give you the right to invade my personal space. Dying your hair pink isn’t a cry for attention. You dye your hair pink because you want pink hair. You don’t go up to a woman that bleaches her hair blonde and say “But why?” (Or at least you better not. That’s hella rude.)
Holy crap this is a lot of words. Basically my opinion is that when it comes to strangers’ appearance you can either give them a simple compliment or stfu. No touching. No asking about the meaning. When it comes to friends/family maybe the lines are a little more blurry? I personally still think it’s intrusive to ask for meaning, no matter how close you are. Because if you really are that close…they’re going to tell you. If they want you to know, they will tell you.
And it REALLY bothers me that people think it’s okay. (It is 100% not remotely on the same level in ANY capacity, and I hope no one thinks I’m taking a bad thing that happened to them and comparing it to a practically non-issue in my own life…) But I think the mindset of “Well you should just expect that to happen if you get a tattoo – why else would you get one?” is DANGEROUSLY CLOSE to the mindset of “Well you should expect that to happen if you wear xyz – why else would you dress like that?”
No. The act of expressing myself through the way I display my appearance doesn’t give you the right to do anything to me. The assumption that I’m doing any of it for YOU or anyone other than myself is extremely insulting.
And that’s my rant!