Stop Asking me what my tattoos mean

Following up from yesterdays post of “Shit People to say to Tattooed People” I think it’s only appropriate to follow it up with an article recently posted by The Gloss entitled “Stop Asking me what my Tattoos Mean”.

Author Jamie Peck,  touches upon the invasiveness of curiosity and sometimes the downright rudeness of strangers. It is something that every non-tattooed person should read before running over to a stranger, pulling on their shirt, touching their skin, and asking them questions. A lot of people just don’t think before they act and we know many people in our community have experienced an inappropriate encounter at least once.

Peck says in the article, “I realize not everyone who asks this question is trying to be creepy; some have just taken the wrong messages from the media. While they’ve been helpful in normalizing tattoos to people who don’t have them, TV shows like Miami Ink have also given people skewed perceptions of how much tattoos mean to people and how openly they’re willing to talk about them. The truth is that not every tattoo has an explicit meaning. In fact, most of the tattoos I have, I got for one very simple reason: I liked the way they looked, tried them on for size, liked how they looked on my body, and wanted to make them permanent. Those flowery things on my left arm? They signify “flowers.” And those colorful, bird-like things on my right arm? They signify “birds.” Fascinating, I know.”

We think that it is a good read for the tattooed and blank canvases. Read the entire article here.

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7 Responses to Stop Asking me what my tattoos mean

  1. Reblogged this on The Grumpy German and commented:
    Yep.
    (I also wanted to try out the re-blog thingy…)

  2. irishlad1969 says:

    I have to admit that I only really get ink that means something to me that I was involved in designing. I never really understood just getting something that someone else has. Everyone is different but whenever anyone speaks to me about getting their first tattoo I ALWAYS tell them to make sure that it means something to them. I don’t think that it’s “CREEPY” to ask someone what their art means. Most people that I have asked actually like telling the story of how they got the design and what it means. We are all different and that is why we get the designs.

    • Ellen says:

      I agree, my tattoos were inspired by an event in my life and most are my own daughter’s artwork…I never mind explaining the story behind them or the inspiration.

  3. Marduk says:

    The motive behind someone’s tattoos is somewhat irrelevant to a more significant issue here (in my opinion) – it could be based on a deep-seeded personal meaning, a significant life event, or just because its owner thought it looked cool/pretty/etc. The part that rubs me the wrong way is “the public’s” perception that they somehow have a right to know why (which inevitably leads to sideways glances, wide eyes, questions, and the occasional shirt pulling described above). I get tattooed for the reasons described here, but that doesn’t mean I want to share that info. with everyone I walk past. Similarly, I do not ask strangers if/why they dyed their hair, where their scars came from, or how they chose to wear what I’m seeing that day. I assume there is a reason and story behind all of it…but it’s not necessarily a story for me to know, even if it is just personal preference.

  4. Amanda says:

    Whenever you expose yourself whether that is revealing a tattoo, scar or dyed hair the public is going to share their opinion, ask questions or stare out of curiosity. We live in a country where we are all free to say what we want and its a right you can’t just take away because you are tired of justifying yourself.

    • Hmmm, okay Amanda, Let me walk up to you and say “Ooooh, your necklace! How much was that anyway?” as I put my hand toward your neck and chest so that I can touch it. “Do you know that people die for you to have this diamond in that pendant? How can you live with yourself? That’s terrible!” Do you want to have this interaction with me, a complete stranger? Would it be creepy? Do you want me to touch your neck? Do you like my assumption that the diamond in your necklace is from human sacrifice? It IS my right after all to ask you these things and to express my feeling about it! Did you wear this necklace only because you wanted attention? Of course not. Do I get tattooed in hopes that I will be groped at, interrogated, and judged? NO.

  5. Sadie Sue says:

    Not all of my tattoos have meaning. A good portion of them I got becuase it was a slow, rainy day in the tattoo shop and I was asked if I wanted this or that tattooed on me.
    When people ask “why do you have ____ tattooed on you” it can come off as being questioned upon my adult decisions. I must admit though, at times I have seen really spectacular and unique tattoos and I just want to probe that person’s mind a bit. But I dont.
    The sleeve on my arm means the most to me. Its a phoenix soaring out of a plum tree, and not to be cliche, but it represents rising from tragedies and hard times, as well as making better choices. When people ask me about it, I say i dont want to talk about it. Sometimes though, (particularily if I am at a bar) if theyre being a drunken pest and I am being ornery, I tell them in the most blunt way EXACTLY why I got it. Those people usually end up walking away embarassed and awkwardly from the scene.
    Ive always thought it would be an interesting art show to have heavily tattooed people on a soap box as naked as theyre comfortable being and be put on display like an animal at a zoo, with people free to bend arms this way or that way, and have the exhibitor turn about to view, say, back pieces.
    Just some thoughts… I try not to be rude or mean to the curious, but sometimes I just want to tell the untattooed to give it a rest!

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