I currently have five tattoos, and the amount of unwarranted opinions I’ve received on my appearance since I started getting tattoos has been shocking. As a young woman, I’ve gotten comments saying I’m “too pretty” to have tattoos or that they “ruin my innocence and purity.” Others have told me they would never get something permanent like that on their bodies. Okay, good for you! That’s called a personal choice.
A year ago, I fell in love with tattoos. The ability to change my appearance to represent who I am makes me feel empowered. The parts of my body I felt insecure about could now be turned into artwork. I love having physical representations of memories on my skin; each one has a story tied to it. I got my first tattoo on my wrist in honor of my boyfriend who passed away, and it lets me feel closer to him. Some tattoos can have deep meaning like that one, while others just look cool.
People are often rude toward a person’s tattoo choices because they wouldn’t do that to themselves. However, personal preference shouldn’t be pushed onto others without invitation. Everyone has the right to make their own decisions, and it’s crossing the line when people who choose to get tattoos are ridiculed or judged.
Some jobs won’t hire someone if they have visible tattoos. In a research article fromworkopolis.com, 14% of employers said they would be less likely to hire an applicant if they had visible tattoos, while 28% said it would depend on the quantity and location of tattoos. Christabell DeMichele, a freshman at JMU, was once interviewed by a restaurant, and was told she wouldn’t be hired because of a tiny tattoo on her wrist. Christabell has also gotten comments that tattoos make her seem “cheap.”
Tattoo judgment is scattered throughout the media as well. Kim Kardashian perfectly depicted this widespread shame during an appearance on The Wendy Williams Show when she stated, “Honey, would you put a bumper sticker on a Bentley?”
By saying that on a well-known talk show, Kardashian further cemented the belief that people with tattoos are ugly or trashy. She implied individuals with tattoos are less than individuals without them. This isn’t true. Having tattoos doesn’t diminish one’s worth.
It turns out many tattooed individuals have received the same remarks. An article from tattoers.net lists different questions or statements from people with tattoos that they’re tired of hearing. Some of the most common phrases included: “Tattoos don’t look good when you’re older,” which is unsolicited advice; and “Tattoos are forever,” which is unbelievably condescending as if the recipient doesn’t know the implications of their decision to get a tattoo.
The most frequent comment I receive is that I’m going to regret my tattoos when I’m older. For me, the idea behind tattoos is that each one represents a time in my life when I wanted that on my body. The different stages of my life are documented through my tattoos. I might regret some of them later in life, but they’re part of my story regardless. As humans, we all have regrets, but learning from them makes us better people. I refuse to live my life in fear of regret. I do what brings me joy in this moment, and if I don’t like a tattoo in the future, I can at least look back and remember who I was when I got it. Every person with tattoos has their own reasoning for getting them, and each reason is completely valid.
It can be hard to believe everyone’s thoughts and beliefs are valid if they’re different from our own. It’s human nature to be self-centered, in more aspects than just tattoos. However, that doesn’t mean others have the right to make someone feel bad about what art they choose to put on their body. If someone doesn’t want a tattoo, then they don’t have to get one. But someone shouldn’t force their opinion onto others.
My body, my choice.
Sami Anderson is a writing, rhetoric, and technical communication major. Contact Sami at firstname.lastname@example.org.