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The Problem with Tattoos

Ahh tattoos. The age old controversial topic and life decision that seems to impact almost everyone in some way, shape or form for reasons I can never quite grasp. Contrary to the title of this blog post, I am very pro tattoos as a tattooed individual myself (I now feel like I've click-baited you all so hear me out). I've never understood the real issue with tattoos and the older I get, the more I seem to struggle with opinions that oppose them.

It's 2O17 and tattoos have become increasingly popular and prolific in society - particularly if we focus on the UK as this is where the majority of my experience comes from - and that might just be a cultural shift, a shift in societal views, appearance, or the development of online media. It's much easier now to find tattoo artists online that match your budget, style, wants and needs when it comes to tattoo design, but it has also become more of a fashionable thing to have them. Is that me saying that that excuse alone means people shouldn't turn their nose up at tattoos? Of course not. I everyone is entitled to an opinion on this topic just as much as they are on any other appearance-related thing (hair colour, fashion sense and style, makeup style etc.) however, I am also a firm believer that if you do have an opinion that opposes this topic, you do not have the right or grounds to be dismissive or rude to any individual who doesn't agree with you.

That brings me onto this ramble that I just needed to get off my chest. I've always wanted tattoos. Ever since I was around 13/14 I knew I wanted to get some, it was just a matter of waiting and planning what I wanted to get done. I put off getting them for quite a while despite wanting them and really that was down to funding and being fickle with choices and not sticking to them. I finally got my first last year at the ripe old age of 24 and rolled on to get three more in the space of a few months after that. Before getting them and since, people have felt that it's their right to have their say on them, often neglecting the fact that they are on my body and therefore, are a part of my appearance now. I find it's the same sort of questions I receive time and time again from family members, friends, and just people out and about. So here's my slightly arsey but very honest responses to all of them.

Do they mean anything? Honest easy answer? Absolutely not. I currently have a T-Rex skull & succulents, a wolf skull & botanicals, a bee & honeycomb, and a peony rendition of the Creation of Adam and none of them have any true meaning. I see tattoos as being just like artwork in the sense that if I see it and like it, then that's that. Paintings don't necessarily have any meaning to me so tattoos don't necessarily need to either. My Creation of Adam piece has a little meaning behind it, but I don't often tell anyone as it's quite personal but honestly? That's just something I've tagged onto it. Most I have I just have because I liked the designs or the tattooists so I wanted something by them which leads me onto the next (and possibly the most frustrating question)...

They're permanently on your body you know? For life? Guess what? I know. I fully understand that a lot of people regret getting tattoos I mean who knows - maybe I will regret them one day! However at this moment in time I'm really happy with them. Other people who have tattoos can probably vouch for this too but I honestly don't notice them very much on a day to day basis. Yeah, I like having them and like wearing clothing that show them off when I can but generally speaking, I only remember having them if someone points them out or they're made a focal point. I'm always asked about what I will do when I'm old and guess what? I'll have them when I'm old and that's okay. They might go misshapen, they might fade really bad, they might not look anything like they used to but that doesn't matter. I can't worry about something that might happen when I'm 7O+ and let it effect me here and now.

Do you cover them up? This isn't so much a question I get but a bit of a slight odd demand from some people. My grandma certainly comes to mind when I say this one because it seems that although stigma surrounding tattoos is lifting slightly, it also seems to just be shifting. People like my grandma have decided tattoos aren't "too bad" but they should be somewhere you can't see them or you should cover them up for "special occasions" such as weddings or events. For me, this is almost more of a issue than people who just outright dislike them because it makes it seem like it's something that should be hidden away or that I should be ashamed of which just isn't the way I want my tattoos to be seen. This became increasingly clear to me when I became a teacher and saw the reaction some institutions had towards me. I once had a job in which staff genuinely said "you would not have been given this position if we had known about your tattoos" all because it was in a school. There's still a fantastically large stigma in certain professions that tattoos make you incompetent, untrustworthy, uneducated, thuggish, slutty, or all of the latter tied up in a lovely judgemental bow. Obviously this is not the case but unfortunately it is something that seems to rear it's ugly head now and again. I'm not ashamed of my tattoos otherwise I would never have got them so no, I don't feel I should cover them up.

Are you going to get more? This is always a question and it's always a one asked in concern - most people who ask are just curious but a lot of people ask so they can say "I think you shouldn't get anymore. I think you've got enough". It's silly really because it doesn't make a difference if you have one or one hundred in my eyes - if you want them, I say go for it and get them!

Can I see your tattoos? *Proceeds to touch and grab you inappropriately*. This is possibly the worst question anyone with any tattoo can receive because no one waits for an answer - everyone just goes right on in there and gets all handy! I don't mind people being interested and wanting to see and know more, but people seem to assume if you're tattooed that means you're totally a-okay with complete strangers putting their hands all over your body. Not okay. I don't know about anyone else, but my mam drilled the motto "we look with our eyes not our hands" into me as a child and I swear it should be said as a vow before people "inspect" anyones tattoos.

All in all I see tattoos as an art form and sense of personal expression that whilst not be for everyone, it is for many and that should be respected just as much as the next body modification, alteration, or change of clothes are. It's always going to be a touchy subject, but next time you question anyone about their tattoos just remember - curiosity and intrigue are lovely, unsolicited judgement and assumption are not.

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