How to Interact with Tattooed People: A Guide
I was 25 years old when I decided to get my first tattoo. I've always seen tattoos as an amazing art form and I absolutely love the idea of having a piece of art forever on my skin. Once I got my first tattoo, it changed my life. It took almost 5 hours and during that time I had to mentally and physically take control of my body in order to take the pain. The fact that I could do that made me feel strong. I quickly realized that getting a tattoo was a spiritual and calming experience, at least for me. Now at 30 years old, I have four tattoos and plan to keep getting more. But as I joined the millions of human beings that have tattoos, I quickly realized that even though tattoos and piercing are becoming more and more accepted, people will still judge or comment on not only your tattoos but also your decision for getting them. Therefore, based on my personal experiences and those of my tattooed friends, I've decided to create a small guide on how to interact with tattooed people.
1. Not everyone has the same opinion about tattoos as you do.
The first thing you need to know is that tattoos are usually not about pleasing other people. Tattoos are important to the wearer only. When meeting someone with tattoos, do not start a long monologue with them on why you would never get a tattoo and what is your opinion about them. We don't care. We don't look at you and tell you why we would never wear the clothes you have on or what is our opinion about your fashion sense. Be respectful. You don't HAVE to comment on someone's tattoos. If you don't like tattoos or have a strong opinion against them, just don't get one. That's it.
2. Yes, tattoos hurt. Don't ask if they hurt.
Although I wish getting a tattoo felt like a thousand feathers touching my skin while sitting on a rainbow, it is common knowledge that tattoos hurt. Asking someone if it hurts is pointless. Of course, pain tolerance varies amongst people but at the very least getting a tattoo can cause discomfort and unpleasantness. In addition, do not assume that people with tattoos have incredible pain thresholds or that we enjoy pain. We work through the pain in order to get an amazing piece of art in our skin.
3. Ask before touching someone's tattoo.
We get it, sometimes people are curious to see what we have on our skin, but having a visible tattoo doesn't mean it is ok for you to touch it without our consent. This should be common sense but I've lost count on how many strangers randomly touch my tattoos while asking me about them. It is disrespectful and invasive. Most tattooed people are ok with showing you their tattoos and talking about them. But you need to be respectful. In fact, there's absolutely no reason to touch someone's tattoo.
4. Don't tell us that we will regret our tattoos.
We all have things we will eventually regret or already regret in our lives. That's how we learn and grown as human beings. Just because you see a tattoo as a mistake or a bad decision it doesn't mean it is for us. Yes, a small percentage of people do get tattoos spontaneously, but for most of us it is a long process. I spent months deciding what I wanted and where I wanted my tattoos. The only people who really regret their tattoos are the ones who rush the process, get them while drunk or go to a bad artist. That is why research before committing is important.
5. Having a tattoo doesn't mean we are a bad influence to others.
Some of the most caring, loyal, and nicest people I know have tattoos and piercings. Don't let your preconceived judgements prevent you from knowing someone. In fact, having tattoos and knowing people that have tattoos teaches you to not place value on appearances and instead spend more time getting to know new people. There are mean and dangerous people in this world that don't have tattoos. Instead of judging people by just their appearance, get to know them first.
6. You religion doesn't allow tattoos? Cool, leave us out of it.
If your religion doesn't allow you to have tattoos or has negative views on tattoos, good for you, don't get a tattoo. But do not lecture us about it, especially when most of us don't follow your religion. Remember that you are the one following it, not us. Tattooed people do not push their views regarding tattoos on others so why should you push your views on us? If you want people to respect your views and choices, you have to similarly respect theirs. Live and let live.
7. Tattoos cost money. Don't judge how much we spend on them.
Good tattoos are expensive and people who don’t realize that usually ask “Why would you spend that much on a tattoo?”. Most of us don't mind spending lots of money on them because we want to have a good piece of art on our skin, especially if it will be there for the rest of our life. This doesn't mean that we are swimming in money or that we are rich. A lot of people spend months, even years, saving money in order to get a tattoo. Remember that you have no right to judge how someone spends their money.
8. We do not owe you an explanation or reasoning behind our tattoos.
A lot of people get tattoos because they like a certain symbol, color, or pattern. For others, tattoos can have a personal meaning and some have stories behind them that are very special. No matter what the reason is, what you should always keep in mind is that tattoos are an artistic expression of who that person is and what is important to them. Because of this, criticizing someone's tattoos can sometimes feel like a personal attack. Remember that just because a tattoo design doesn't mean anything to you, it doesn't mean that you can judge whoever has it and tell them it was a lame idea or that you would never put that permanently on your skin. Every person molds their own ideas, experiences and memories into their tattoos and what they represent. To judge someone based off of what you think their tattoo means is unnecessary. On the other hand, it’s also pointless to just assume that every tattoo a person has means something amazingly unique. Not everything needs an universal purpose to exist.
Hopefully this quick tips can help you interact with tattooed people better. But remember, when in doubt just follow Will Wheaton's advice: