It's been almost 20 years since I decided to go through with getting a tattoo. I don't have the best first tattoo story and frankly if my kid copied me, I'd probably want to kill him. It was in the backroom of a sketchy house (sorry Dave) with a bunch of people around and a friend with a tattoo machine and very little experience. Thankfully it was small and future coverage was an option and I didn't contract any infection or disease. Phew! But despite that shoddy first experience it was from that moment that I was hooked. "They" say that once you get one, you'll just want another. Wasn't sure if I believed that or not, but it really is true. I've had a lot of experiences in life (both good and bad) because of the art I've chosen to put on my skin. I've had the privilege of being tattooed by some fantastic, artistic people as well I've had conversations that I would rather not have had with rude, arrogant strangers. So here's my take on my life with tattoos...
I'm quite pleased with how far tattoos have come in society. They are almost mainstream now so I'd think that the shock of seeing one should be wearing off at this point. I feel like the stigma behind tattoos will become non-existent over time. Slowly we're getting there, but there are still hurdles to jump. I guess I just want people to know that I'm not a bad girl. I'm a good girl with tattoos and while I may regret the actual design (see very first tattoo) of the odd tattoo, I will never regret getting them.
As part of the human race I'm ashamed to admit that I have often been left speechless when a random stranger will tell me outright that they do not like my tattoos. I can't get over the gall but most importantly their ego, because their opinion of my body and the art I've added to it never once crossed my mind while I was making the choice to get a tattoo. So while I may be frowned upon for what I've chosen to do to my body I will never give someone the opportunity to frown on me for my lack of tact and decorum towards a complete stranger who was merely minding their own business. I'd much rather make it through my day without being told that my tattoos will look ugly when I'm old. I don't wear crop tops and shorty shorts now and I am pretty sure I won't be sporting them when I'm 80 either so who cares? Besides I'm going to have some great stories and conversations with my grandchildren and I'll have pictures to go with the lines in my story.
Also being tattooed is not a crime, nor does having them make me a criminal. Frankly I feel like I'd be less inclined to commit a crime as my modifications would make it easier to describe me to the police or for someone to recognize me once the APB went out! Tattoos are so mainstream and modern now (unfortunately there's a shop popping up on every corner) that the idea that only criminals have them should be obsolete.
And for the love of whatever entity your self righteous ass follows please don't feel like you are entitled to touch my tattoo or me, ever. Similar to a pregnant belly, my tattoos are 'out there' but not as an invitation for you to touch my body, especially when you are a stranger or just plain sleezy. You would never dream of walking up to someone and just randomly grabbing their arm or pushing their shirt up to 'get a better look', so don't use my tattoo as an excuse or an invite. It's rude, violating and frankly abusive. Stay out of my personal space.
Believe it or not, I'm not always so eager to tell you the story behind my tattoo design. There may not even be a story behind it! GASP! How can this be? Sometimes I just pick a tattoo because I like the picture. But maybe on the other end of the spectrum one is so personal to me that you don't warrant the explaination. All those damn tattoo shop tv shows are ruining it for those of us who would rather not discuss the choices we make in life that don't impact anyone else. And trying to pick me up by telling me my ink is awesome isn't going to work. I already know this plus I don't need your validation in life. (I've actually had a guy go the complete opposite way by telling me that I ruined my beautiful body with all those tattoos, but he'd try to look past it and we should still go out. Oh yes, you had me at the insult.)
How much I paid for my work is business between my artist and me and doesn't concern you. If you are merely looking for a ballpark figure on how much a tattoo costs, go into a shop and get a quote because prices vary depending on the experience of the artist, your history of making or breaking appointments, the size of tattoo, the location on your body, the amount of colour, the actual design and prep work require and how smelly you are (probably not, but maybe so). Besides, unless you are getting the exact same piece as me in the exact same spot (which better not be happening) then it's redundant anyway.
Staring, snickering or talking about me within earshot is rude. Plain and simple. It doesn't matter if you are attacking me personally or my selection of body art - shame on you. I would hope your parents taught you better manners. If you genuinely have something nice to say then say it, if you don't at least wait until I'm out of earshot before you make your snide comments. I do have feelings. It speaks volume about the charactor of person who simply cannot let another human being live their own life. The stuff that is tattooed on my body will never be of any relevance to you, I promise. Please don't try to sneek a photo of me. I would never fathom doing that to you for any reason. It's a violation and disrespectful and I believe your instincts would kick in if I was doing the same stuff to your kid. So unless I'm wearing an outfit worthy of posting on the People of Walmart website, back the 'F' off! (It's probably not really ok to take a picture even then, but I can see how it would be really tempting.)
Don't copy someone elses tattoo design. It's insulting. Feel free to use someone's design as inspiration but ask for an artist to do a rendering completely for you. Unless you're getting a painting or picture replicated on your body I can't understand why you'd want the exact same piece as someone else, unless that's agreed upon by both parties. Some people put a lot of time and effort into picking art for their body or getting the image in their head onto paper and then onto their skin. Don't take the easy way out. You have your own brain, use it.
Tattoos do not make me a less kind person. And while I personally am not religious, having tattoos doesn't and shouldn't rule that option out. Someone with tattoos can still have faith in a higher being or be very spiritual (I've seen some pretty amazing religion inspired tattoos). I'm pretty sure your God wouldn't smite me because I put some drawings on my body yet forgive you for adultry, bigotry, abuse, etc. I am a wonderful human being with tons of great qualities to offer the world. Which takes me to my next point. Don't assume I will not be able to find a good job with all these tattoos. I have a great job, and I've done extremely well for myself. I work in a conservative field where visible tattoos are not permitted but because I strongly felt this was the line of work for me, I was willing to make the sacrifice of wearing long sleeves at work and consciously thinking through the placement of my tattoos.
I'm only getting one chance at this life (and even if I believe in reincarnation, I'm going to have an entirely new pallet to work with) so I'm going to have as much fun with it as possible and not be so aloof and stuffy that I find fault with what other people do to make their days brighter. I like tattoos, on me and on other people. I think they are fun and I genuinely think they make the human body better looking. They add physical charactor and are usually appealing to my eyes. And you know what? My parents and kids still love me even with the alterations to my natural appearance. They understand that having pictures on my body doesn't change who I am on the inside. They love me unconditionally and while I'm not asking the public to love me unconditionally I guess I'd just prefer if they minded their own business and refrained from passing judgement on something actually quite trivial in the big picture.