A few months ago I was having a discussion with someone who had recently dealt with a lot of negative comments regarding her tattoos. The usual.. “You’re going to look terrible when you’re older,” and “You’re not going to find a job because you’re tattooed.” It struck a chord with me because I’ve heard those very same comments firsthand about my own artwork. First off… can we all agree that no one is going to look all that great when they’re 70?! Well, except for Martha Stewart.. she looks pretty damn good at 72, but tattooed or not, we ALL get old and gravity can be cruel! Secondly, it’s 2013! It’s much easier to find employers that are now more accepting of tattoos and other body modifications. To say that it’s impossible to find a job because you’re a tattooed individual is just an antiquated way of thinking.
Many people will also make assumptions that we’re drug abusers, degenerates, criminals, or if you’re a girl, tattoos mean you’re promiscuous. I’ve had all kinds of names and accusations slung at me because I’m a tattooed female. Someone even once implied that I exchanged favors for free tattoo work.. Sorry to disappoint you sweetheart, but the only currency exchanged was CASH.
Unfortunately, we will always have these stereotypes, but how do we overcome it or at least deal with it without losing our temper every time?
My initial reaction to coworkers, acquaintances, strangers, and even some family was to tell them EXACTLY where they could stick their negative comments, but then I realized, getting angry every time would just be playing into the stereotype of a classless, brash, foul-mouthed, tattooed miscreant. Instead I use those comments as coal to my fire to work hard, become successful, and ultimately overcome and surpass the people that doubted me. We can get upset at these disapproving human beings or we can just smile and agree to disagree.
Also, remember that staring doesn’t always imply a bad thing. I know it’s uncomfortable when you’re gawked at like a zoo animal, but they may not even realize they’re doing it! Despite us living in the twenty-first century, where it seems uncommon to meet someone WITHOUT tattoos, there are still quite a few people that have NOT been exposed to seeing heavily tattooed individuals. They may just be in awe at the quality, your courage, and your commitment to display your love of art on your body. Now when you get the ‘stink-eye’ from someone.. that’s a different story, but instead of flipping them the bird, just smile! You’ll either make them feel like an asshole for..well.. being an asshole or you’re going to scare them! Win-win!
It’s a total cliché, but remember that it’s not about winning the battle, it’s about winning the war. You may not change someone’s mind about tattoos right away, but by presenting yourself intelligently and respectfully you’ll place yourself above the negative views some might have and maybe.. just maybe they might realize they were wrong about you and come to accept the way you live your life.
How have you overcome negative comments about your tattoos?