Some people make assumptions. Once I had visible tattoos in my profile picture, people (well, men) on dating sites started treating me differently. I suppose part of it was just something to talk about, but I also noticed the tone of messaging shift. Sure, you always get the sleazebags who’ll tell you exactly what they want to do to you before you say hello. But even the nicer messages became more sexual in tone. I began getting told more often that I looked “hot” or “naughty” rather than “friendly” or “cute”.
But most people don’t. The majority of those I know – friends, family, employers – really don’t give a shit. I remember feeling self-conscious the first time I revealed my tattoos at my latest job, but the only thing that anybody has ever said is “Cool tats!”
A lot of people secretly want one. One conversation I do have a lot, with friends and with strangers, is the “I would love a tattoo but I’m worried about the pain / judgement of family / permanence of the decision” one. I’ve been asked for tattoo advice by shop assistants serving me, people waiting next to me at the bus stop, senior managers at work, and friends of mine I never knew were interested.
Tattoos can help you love your body. I first got tattooed on my upper arms because it was a part of my body I never ever showed. I would wear three quarter length sleeves or keep my cardigan on, because I was convinced that my arms were proportionally much chubbier than the rest of my body. Despite kind of being aware that this was body dysmorphia rather than objective truth, I would be too self-conscious to ever bare this part of my body.
But now? Now I feel uncomfortable keeping my cardigan on, because I don’t feel like myself without my tattoos on show. Sometimes I would rather be cold with them visable, than warm with them covered. The top of my arms are my favourite part of my body, because they are covered in beautiful designs that are personal and distinctive to me.
You can read more about my tattoos, why I got them, and my experience of being tattooed on Underland to Wonderland.