Never judge a book by its tattoos and piercings

Does the tattoo make the person, or does the person give the tattoo meaning?

It’s time to talk stigmas again! I hope you are as excited as I am. I plan to keep this brief, but I hope you can recognize the importance of what I’m saying regardless. Currently, I lack the funds and the mindset required to get myself a tattoo. Trust me, though, if that changes, it’ll happen. I have been told not to get a tattoo, though, by a variety of people and for a variety of reasons. One of the most common ones, and my personal favorite, is that people will judge me if I have or do not have a tattoo.

This leads me to beg a very important question: Who the hell is anybody to judge me for my tattoo? As a matter of fact, who is anybody to judge anybody for anything?

Now, I’m not talking making a reasonable assessment of a person based on the situation at hand. I’m talking making a decision about a person’s character because they have chosen to do something for themselves. For example, the lower back tattoo. The lower back tattoo is often not so lovingly referred to as the tramp stamp because it is used as an easy identifier of a woman who is…well, easy. But why? It isn’t a uniform. It isn’t mandated by Harlots Co., Unlimited. Basically, unless the tattoo says, “I’m easy,” you have no reasonable grounds on which to base that assumption.

So what does this say? Can you really tell anything other than that I have an appreciation for purple flowers? Photo: Jillian Marino

I conducted a bit of a social experiment with the tattoo in the photo on the left. Like I said, I don’t currently have a tattoo, but I do have an appreciation for things like temps because they are all the expression of a tattoo without any of the permanence (I have no fear of commitment when it comes to my body, but like I said, funds and mindset. Also, if you are taking the time to judge me for that decision either as wimpy or as weird, you’re already missing the point of this post.). Regardless, I wore the tattoo, had photos taken and shared them on social media.

The response surprised me.

On more than one occasion, I was asked if it was real. After responding honestly and saying no, I was met with sighs of relief and comments to the effect of “Oh good. I didn’t take you for that kind of person.”

Wait, what?

What “kind of person” am I exactly? That little bit of ink changed the integrity of who I was to people I know well? If you are unsure, the answer is no, of course not. I didn’t become a different person with that temp on, and I didn’t transform back into my original self when it was gone. That’s what I don’t get. A tattoo doesn’t determine what kind of person I am, and not every person with the same kind of tattoo will be the same kind of person.

Waka Flocka Flame
Waka Flocka Flame is a genuinely good man. I say this from experience. Do his tattoos change that for you? Photo: Atlantic Records

Tattoos make a statement, but that statement is specific to the person who is bearing it. Whatever the image, whatever the placement, a tattoo can’t be used to make snap judgments about a person. At least not reasonable ones. I mean, would you ever imagine this man giving a firm handshake and traveling with a group of genuinely nice people if you were basing your judgment only on his tattoos?

Now, I’m not defending people who get flustered when other stare at their face tattoos. But the fact of the matter is that people stare at people. Whether they are covered with ink, bearing brightly colored mohawks or piercing every orifice, people are going to stare. Actually, I can say that people stare at people with none of the above (like myself). You can’t be flustered by people looking at you under any circumstance because it is going to happen. You just also shouldn’t have to feel like you are being scrutinized and categorized by nothing other than how you look.

Perceptions matter, but if they are not clear and well-founded ones, they mean nothing. Tattoos that are permanent, piercings that are fake or any combination of the above mentioned items do not a personality make, so maybe we need to spend more time contributing to society and less time judging the individuals that comprise it.


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