People say lots of stuff to you when you have tattoos. If you’re thinking about sleeves, be aware that you will spend the rest of your days having to either cover up or fiercely defend your personal boundaries as people feel totally free to appraise, comment on and yes, even touch(!) the art on your body.
Mostly the stuff people say is nice, but a lot of time, the stuff guys say is gross. A recent pick-up line I received: “I love girls with tattoos because they really known how to F#@*.”
Charming, yes? Who was it that spoke thus to me? Not a car-window-framed catcaller or paramour in the heat of dirty lovemaking. Just your average button-down dude in a social situation.
“I like your tattoos” the construction workers on our office block murmur under their breaths. Or something like that, the overall effect is of a band of street gremlins quietly tickling my heels with muttered “tattoos tattoos tattoos” as I walk by.
“Pin me up, huh?” a lot of guys Beavis as they read the heart-enclosed text on my forearm. Text tattoos give them a great excuse to grab your arm, pull it closer, squint and scrutinize. “Like…a pin-up girl?” I say wearily, while visions of some weird bondage or I-don’t-know-what dance in their heads.
You see, to some people, being a heavily tattooed woman is the equivalent to walking around in a schoolgirl skirt 24-7. Apparently, by plunking down a grand or so to get stabbed repeatedly with needles, I forfeited my right to ladyhood and am suddenly fair game for all manner of innuendo. Would you pull that crap with Annette?
A tattooed arm, to a lot of people, yells daddy issues, kinky sex and low self-esteem, broadcasts so much more than the pretty daisies and bumblebee I picked out. Of course, if you’ve read anything I’ve written thus far, you know that some (OK all) of those words, do actually apply to me. And there are a lot of reasons I chose to get my 9-or-so tattoos, like reclaiming ownership of my body after it was violated, but somewhere in the murky soup of my mixed intentions there’s probably a part of me that knew of and wanted to transmit those messages.
Let’s be honest – I wanted to look cool, and what’s cooler than a “bad girl?” And what does a bad girl do if not screw wantonly and often and maybe smoke cigarettes? And after all, I do know how to f*#@. Truly I do.
Perhaps my tattoos are one more indicator to the predators of the world, like my self-conscious gait or my nervous laughter in the face of danger, that I am a wounded wildebeest, easily separated from the flock.
But even bad girls want respect. And more than that, this actually-pretty-lame girl just wants to be left alone sometimes. Maybe one of the reasons tattoos elicit this kind of sexual attention from strange men is just that they’re an obvious excuse to talk to us, like how pick-up dudes wear giant silly hats.
Either way, with summer approaching, my options as I see them two-fold: 1) invest in a light, but full-body cardigan or b) start designing my "Leave me the hell alone" forehead-piece.