|Fighting female tattoo stereotypes|
|Written by Elizabeth Brei, Daily Vidette Columnist|
|Wednesday, 28 November 2012 17:36|
Over Thanksgiving break, I got my 11th tattoo. I have two on my back, two on my neck and the other seven are on my arms and are visible almost all the time.
Tattoos and I have a special sort of relationship. I got my first just a month after I turned 18 and have added about one to three per year since then. Each one is special to me. It had to be in order for me to sit through the pain.
I get a lot of backlash about my tattoos. It’s not always immediately contemptuous, but I know it when I see it. From my parents, it’s my mom saying that she thinks there must be something wrong with people willing to sit through that amount of pain and my dad insisting they’re a waste of my money.
From other people I know, there’s everything from bafflement to snide comments. “Why do you have so many?” or “Oh, yours are nice, but I wouldn’t get any myself.” I once had a hygienist at my dentist’s office tell me that, “If God wanted me to have tattoos, I would have been born with them.” (I politely did not comment on the fact that she had her ears pierced.)
Last year, a columnist at a university newspaper in New York wrote a column with the headline, “Why put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari?”
In the column, she insisted that women who have tattoos aren’t “classy” and said that inked women must have self-esteem issues. If they want to feel better about themselves, she suggested, they should go to the gym, or buy a nice pair of heels.
The column went viral for a number of reasons. Many people were up in arms over the fact that she was saying she didn’t like tattoos, and they were therefore taking personal offense, since so many people have tattoos.
But a lot of people took to the Internet to tell her how very misogynistic her words were. She said women who have tattoos should expect to be judged as trashy for having them.
She said that the way for women to feel good about themselves was if they went shopping or worked out or wore makeup. Tattoos aren’t okay, she said, but make sure you look like the media says you should, because then you’ll feel good about yourself.
When I first read the column, I was as stung by it like everyone else. And part of the reason was because I get those reactions all the time. People are always curious about my tattoos and not always in a nice way.
I’m sure guys have their own share of judgment cast at them when they have tattoos. They come across suspicious or like punks and thugs and are therefore untrustworthy. But to some extent, tattoos are also somewhat acceptable for men to have. They’re a masculine thing.
When people learn that I have tattoos, their visions of me change immediately. I suddenly go from someone who seems nice and polite and who looks like she’s about 15, to someone who is perhaps dangerous and disrespectful, despite the fact that I still look like I’m about 15 and have never disrespected someone, intentionally, in my entire life.
I always like to hope that tattoos are becoming less taboo and that there is a chance that someday, someone will say, “Wow, that is awesome!” before assuming I’m some kind of delinquent. And I get those reactions sometimes, from friends and people who know me well.
It always sounds silly to me when people say their tattoos are a work of art, or that their bodies are a canvas. But that’s exactly how tattoos are for me. I’ve been expressing myself through this lovely artwork that I’ve decorated myself with, and I adore it and wish other people would look at it first as something beautiful and not something suspect.
My body is a temple, sure, but how long can you live anywhere without wanting to decorate it?