August 2015: Stereotypes

Tattoo Stigmas and Stereotypes

Taking a walk round the streets of London, it’s safe to say that body art has made its way into the mainstream. Like many of you, I have embraced the tattoo culture and, having had my first tattoo at 16 years old, I have never looked back. I am now what you would consider a tattooed lady, however, with this title I have also had to endure the stereotypes and pigeonholing that comes with it. So, to name a few, here are some of the common prejudices I experience on a regular basis.

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I must be promiscuous

A common misconception about women with tattoos is that we must all be willing to sleep around. The image of the tattooed women is sexualised by society and, as such, we are seen as “easy” because we choose to mark our bodies. To me, this is absurd. How can you make a judgement on someone’s sexuality based on markings on their skin? Those of you who know me will know I’ve never had so much as a one night stand and my views on no-strings sex are considered pretty old-fashioned. You can imagine my reaction when guys in bars are taken aback when they realise I’m not willing to go home with them.

I must love metal and be a party girl

Tying in quite nicely with my first point is the idea that all tattooed girls must be head-banging party girls. Now, I’m sure there are plenty of tattooed women out there who love to party, who love hardcore metal, experimenting in drugs and drink, but of course there are those who don’t. One thing a lot of people are surprised to find out about me is that I hardly ever drink (a few times a year, maybe), I have never tried any drugs and I’d rather listen to Katy Perry than Iron Maiden. I’m actually pretty boring and that’s how I like it.  Nothing is more frustrating to me than when I am approached in a pub by someone who thinks, by taking one look at my skin, that I’m going to be “wild”.

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I don’t mind being touched by strangers

Ask any tattooed person and they’ll tell you one of the strangest things about having tattoos is having people come up and touch you. It sounds crazy but I promise you it’s true for both men and women. When I say people come up to me in bars, it’s not necessarily because they’re hitting me and more often than not it’s just to ask me questions. Whilst I appreciate people wanting to learn more, their approach sometimes spoils it. I don’t feel the need to discuss my tattoos on a daily basis and it’s actually pretty awkward having to explain myself all the time. I don’t like being touched in general and it takes me a while to get to that point with people, so to have a stranger come up and touch me does not bode well.

I love showing a lot of skin

I once met a girl at a friend’s birthday who kept asking me why I was wearing a long sleeved dress; was I embarrassed of my tattoos? Not at all. The truth of the matter is that I don’t feel the need to flaunt them at all times, and most tattooed people will tell you they often forget they’re there. Sometimes people will stare at me and I’ll have no clue what they’re looking at. Just like non-tattooed women, we all have our insecurities and just because we have our stomachs tattooed, it does not mean we want them out on show all the time. I have even been asked in the street whether people could take a photo of my tattoos – oh hell no! When I politely asked him not to, his response was aggressive and he said: “Don’t get them then, if you don’t want people to look at them.”

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I’ll never have a decent job

This is a tricky one. If you choose to tattoo your face, neck and hands, unfortunately you run the risk of not holding down what society deems as a decent job. However, I have never had a problem finding employment as most of mine are easily hidden. When I worked at The Body Shop, it was a particularly boiling hot summer and I was asked to hide my tattoos. This is not part of the company’s guidelines, but was at an individual manager’s request. I accept that if they need to be covered up, I’ll cover them, but sometimes the personal taste of someone in power can skew what is necessary and fair in a work environment. I currently work in a respectable office environment for a digital marketing agency where it’s no issue at all – and why should it be?

I’ll regret it on my wedding day

A common question I get is: “What about your wedding day? How will you cover them up?” and the answer is, I won’t. Tattoos are certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. Surprisingly, I’ve had a better response from far older generations than I have from people my own age. I truly do believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder and my preference is tattooed skin. In many cultures, tattoos are a symbol of power and status and it can sometimes be perceived that because I’ve chosen to mark my skin, I’m not feminine. I actually consider myself to be very girly – I don’t like wearing trousers, I’m obsessed with kittens, pink and flowers. I think nothing is hotter than a tattoo sleeve in a pretty dress and so I can’t wait to look like an awesome, tattooed bride.

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I’m a tough bitch

I think a lot of people assume that if you’re tattooed, you must put up a good fight and be pretty tough. True, tattoos can be painful and you have to be pretty brave sometimes. However, I’m certainly not a fighter nor do I enjoy confrontation in the slightest. I’m not good at speaking out, especially to people I don’t know and one of my main problems is that I don’t stick up for myself. On the occasions I’ve asked people not to touch me or take photos, they’ve reacted as if I’ve taken away their right to do something and as though I was being unreasonable. I don’t think asking a drunken stranger to please not touch me makes me a bitch. I’m just as much as a wimp as anyone else!

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So how about you? For you other tattooed girls out there, do you find you are sometimes stereotyped?
Leave all your comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on my post.
Thanks again to Zusterschap for having me!

You can find Sophie over at Popcorn & Glitter

 

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3 thoughts on “Tattoo Stigmas and Stereotypes

  1. This is a really interesting article! I have a few tattoos myself, they’re in less visible places so I haven’t really experienced any stereotypings yet. Your story of people wanting to touch your tattoos reminded me of something I’ve observed in work. I noticed (working in a chemist) that people assume the same thing about pregnant womens bumps!

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  2. This is a great post 🙂 At the moment, I only have one tattoo but I have a massive wishlist I’d love to get once I find my preferred tattoo artists to do them and plan how i’m going to travel to their shop! 😀 When I’ve talk to people about the tattoos I want, I’ve had a few people say ‘are you not bothered about what they will look like on your wedding day/wedding photos?’ It’s such a silly question. I love tattoos, I think they look gorgeous and I will be very happy to be covered in them on my wedding day some day! 🙂

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