An Idiots’ Guide to Tattoos
As a young Asian woman living in a conservative society, having tattoos is something that is immensely frowned upon. So you can imagine the look of horror on my parents’ face when I came home with one. That too on a very visible spot (my forearm).
Words were thrown around, some disagreements, threats of disownment were made, and after a week of the silent treatment, my parents moved on.
Although they go about their lives ignoring the existence of my tattoo, there is one group of people that hadn’t really had their turn ridiculing me for the art I choose to wear on myself. For expressing myself and taking ownership of my body and my thoughts.
These are the group of people that are around just to point out flaws under the pretext of care and love. But we all know they’re there just to add pressure because they haven’t had the same exposure, freedom and opportunities as we have. It’s sad, really.
So over the last few months, I have come across multiple questions and comments about my tattoo which are similar to the ones that I have seen other friends get too. As annoying and invasive as these questions are, I am too polite to tell people off on their face.
This inspired me to put together a list of the top 5 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and how I wish I could answer them.
1. “Why did you get a tattoo? Only gangsters and criminals have tattoos!”
This is such a flawed argument. Not denying that gangsters and criminals don’t have tattoos but reserving tattoos to ONLY this particular group of people is so unfair!
Tattoos are personal, and at times hold sacred meaning to the ones who bear them. Ridiculing people for having tattoos and celebrating this form of art just shows the lack of depth one has.
2. “Nobody is going to hire you now that you have tattoos on you.”
It’s 2019. I work in the creative industry where self-expression is encouraged so that we may create more inclusive art.
Tattoos are a form of self-expression that is utterly empowering. If anything, this will make me better at my job. Plus, if an employer cannot respect what I decide to do with MY body, why would I want to work for them?
3. “This is what happens when you hang out with bad company.”
This statement really gets to me. I am very careful about the people I surround myself with and I deeply care about my friends.
These are the people that I’ve had deep, philosophical conversations with while stargazing in the wilderness of Borneo. They have held me during my tough, long nights when the Sun just won’t rise fast enough. They are the people I call upon when anything goes wrong. They are my support system and they have kept me going more times than I can count.
Yes, some of my friends have tattoos but I had been friends with them years before I decided to get inked.
They had nothing to do with the decision I made as it was a purely personal choice.
4. “Only promiscuous women get tattoos.”
I get where this comes from. There is a common notion that tattoos are an aphrodisiac.
Not that there is anything wrong with being promiscuous.
Seeing that the conservative Asian community defies anything sexual, they denigrate tattoos so that their women remain in control and “respectable” in society.
Maintaining a respectable position in the community was of the utmost importance because it determined whether a woman would get a wealthy suitor, therefore uplifting her position in the society.
The argument I raise is that these were rules we had to live by decades ago. Something our grandparents had to adhere to. Why are we subjected to such outdated rules in this day and age?
5. “You won’t be let into certain countries if you have tattoos.”
This is an ACTUAL thing I heard from an acquaintance. I honestly didn’t even know what else to say other than NO.
I think tattoos are a beautiful form of art that only few can appreciate. I do not intend to impose my interests onto others but I also do not appreciate being subjected to rude queries that do not come from a place of curiosity but disdain.
Maybe we should all stick to the concept of “Live and let live”?