Thursday, March 3, 2011

How tattoos (may) change your life.

Monday night

I get a lot of questions via this blog in regards to my tattoos and a couple of the questions are asked the most: "do you run into negativity having so many visible tattoos?" and "I'm thinking of getting my arm/chest/other visible spot tattooed, any advice?" So let me tell you. But before I begin, you should know that this is coming from my experience and my experience alone. Things may be different for you, but for me, I've found that my life has absolutely changed since becoming what some would call "heavily" tattooed. Maybe this is because I come from a more conservative family, maybe it's because I don't fit into the "sorority girl" label that would otherwise be applied, maybe it's because I live in a small town. Who knows. What I do know though is that I love everything I've added to my body, but coming from someone who can be sensitive about people being openly mean or negative, in the beginning it was hard for me to adapt and become indifferent to the way people made me feel. I should also add that for every negative remark or glance I get from the tattoos on my body, I get equally as many smiles and conversations with people I may not have otherwise spoken to. And those seemingly rude stares are often just coming from a place of admiration or curiosity. But now, I don't give it a second thought. Stare if you'd like, whisper to your friend, "she's so pretty, why would she DO that?!" It rolls right off my back. But in the first years of having tattoos on my ribs, my back, then my chest, arm, wrist, neck, legs...it would often make me sad. I was so happy with the way I looked, and I didn't understand why me having tattoos would bother anyone else. But sometimes, it does. So let me start by saying this: if you decide to get a tattoo in a visible place, people will look, and people will judge. Yes, times have changed, but as far as I'm concerned, being heavily tattooed is still not 100% acceptable in mainstream society. One day maybe, but today, no.

Because I have a few separate circles of friends, as I got more and more tattoos I became the "tattooed friend" in one of those groups. The first time I heard that it was definitely disheartening; a coworker of one of my college girlfriends met me for the first time and said, "oh! You must be the tattooed friend we've heard so much about." Oh really? It was a bummer to be generalized like that, and I still think about it when I hang out with that group of girls. No one wants to be placed into a simplified category based on the way they look, but when you have tattoos it can definitely happen, and it did for me, numerous times.  Another specific thing I've dealt with as of recently: you will have to think about how you look standing in a friend's wedding as a bridesmaid. I've been in the wedding party of many of my friends, and unless the bride or groom is also visibly tattooed, it's can often be a little touchy. My friends couldn't care less, but their mothers, grandmas, aunt or family friend may have a different opinion. To be honest, I normally couldn't care less what someone's mother, grandma, aunt or family friend thought...but it's a hard situation when you know that someone's conservative parents don't approve of tattoos, yet there you are up there on the biggest day of their daughter's life, tattooed and smiling away. On someone's wedding day the last thing you want is to be an issue for anyone's family...or even "ruin the pictures," like I've actually had said to me. It can be a bit hard when you just want to blend in and be in the background...but if you're heavily tattooed, blending in isn't always easy to do in certain settings. And although this isn't a reason not to get tattooed, I do think that all of these stories blend into a bigger picture that is important to see when making the decision.

Another, and a bit broader thing to think about when you're considering taking the plunge and tattooing your arm, chest, back of your neck, or even your wrist...how will this affect my career? Some people are lucky enough to work in an open-minded environment where tattoos don't matter, but the majority of people need to look somewhat "professional," and in this day and age, visible tattoos aren't always seen that way. I taught high school for six years, and for six years I wore higher necked shirts, cardigans, and after tattooing right above my knees I stuck to skirts that were always long enough to cover those pieces up. Although my school surprisingly gave me the okay to show them if I wanted to, I chose to have them be a non-issue and keep them mainly covered. It was just easier this way, especially dealing with highly-distractable teenage students.  After six years of doing this though I started to get sick of my limited wardrobe choices, and as spring and summer hit it was hot wearing layers and long sleeves each day.  So really think hard about it- if you work in an area where tattoos just aren't acceptable, are you willing to cover them every single day for the rest of your working life? I asked myself these same questions and decided that I didn't care, and went for it. For me, the benefits outweighed the annoyances. But you may be different, so be sure to ask yourself the same.

Also, know that your day to day life will be forever changed. Imagine wearing a really brightly colored dress out and about- it's loud, it's bright, and quite the conversation piece. Now imagine not being able to take off that dress. You loved that dress at the store, you bought and paid for it, and now you will wear that dress for the rest of your life. Everyday. Forever. Wherever you go, people will either look at it, try and touch it, show you theirs, and/or start some sort of conversation. This is the truth. Sometimes fun, mainly annoying, and for me it's often easier to just cover up if I'm not in the mood to deal with it.

But really, what it comes down to is this: if you are going to permanently change your body in a big way, think long and hard before you make the leap. I didn't get tattooed until I was in my twenties for that very reason. Some 18-year olds have enough sense to make the choice then, but I knew I didn't, so I waited. And in the end, I decided to take the plunge after all and I am so glad I did. Up above I mentioned a few specific examples of ways life has changed for me, and I'm sure there are many more instances depending on your circumstances. At the same time, there are positive things that of course go along with doing what YOU want to do, and doing it for you. I, for one, adore having such beautiful art as a permanent reminder of different parts of my life. I'll always love them, because they represent my history, my story, my choices. I'll continue to get tattoos that I love, and I'll continue to fill my body with little pieces of beauty that make me happy. Everyday is an exercise in being true to myself, and I like that. And admittedly, it did take a while to accept that not everyone will approve of my choices. From that though, I  have become someone who strives to be my 100% authentic self in all situations. You don't like the way I look? Oh well. My tattoos have taught me more about myself, and more about others, than I would have ever imagined. And like anything, there are two sides of the coin. Just be sure you examine both sides before you really make the commitment! Good luck!

122 comments:

  1. Love this! Thanks for your honest words & great advice! You are so beautiful! I'm getting ready to take the plunge and get a highly visible tattoo on my arm that I've been wanting forever & I'm so excited. It may be inconvenient at times that I need to cover it up, but I think the benefits greatly outweigh any annoyances. I LOVE YOUR BLOG! :)

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    3. Just heard from a lady (she's in her 40's) who wrote: "At my bank I have to administer a test toward hiring. It's my decision whom gets hired. One person had on a light, kind of sheer blouse and I could see a tattoo on her shoulder. That kept me from hiring her. I have dealings with many professionals and it seems most secretly feel tattoo's are unprofessional. Those who get them, right or wrong, give the impression they are of a lower class of people. They too usually will not hire such people."

      I remember my late father who had a Mermaid tattooed on his arm. Over the years it became unrecognizable... looked like a smear of blue grease. He said one of his regrets in life was having gotten it.

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    4. Too bad that person could have been an asset. I've been working for a bank for 15 years. I just got my first tattoo at 40.( a full sleeve, chest piece). I have a co worker who has six tattoos three that are noticable. I BELIEVE TATTOOS ARE A FORM OF ART . THAT'S TOO BAD PEOPLE STILL THINK LIKE THAT.

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    5. I believe (as a 20 year old with tattoos) 18 or 40 getting a tattoo DON'T REGRET IT. Whatever you get, however old you are, there is a mindset on why you want to get a specific kind of art inked into your body. It's apart of you. Love yourself and your silly tattoos but never regret them. Be different. Be yourself.

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  2. THANK YOU. I couldn't have written it better. Although I'm not as heavily tattooed, 80% of mine are visible and this totally resonated with me.
    Working at a private college, there's always been the conservative aspect to the staff and I'm definitely the most (visibly tattooed) among the administrative staff.

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  3. I love this.
    You express it all so eloquently.

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  4. I love love LOVE this! Thank you so much for writing it! I know this is going to help so many people, Danielle! your words are so inspiring! <3

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  5. I feel like I needed to read this post about 5 years ago when I got my first tattoo. I didn't expect to get negative reactions to my tattoos ever, I loved them why would anyone have a problem with them was always my thought. It was very disheartening. Now I'm just aware that people don't really understand and it's not my fault. My tattoos are mine and I love them - and the ones coming my way in the future.

    Ramblings of a Small Town Girl

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  6. This is a wonderful post, Danielle. I love that you are so open about the positivity and negativity you have received for your tattoos, your frankness is refreshing. <3
    Love and Turtledoves,
    Jaco

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  7. I couldn't agree with you more, and thank you for your post.

    I live in the same town as you and have been pleasantly suprised at the amount of support and even praise I've encountered here for my tattoos, but sadly, the comments or glares that were negative have stuck out oftentimes the most to me.

    Its an extremely personal and beautiful form of expression and like you mention, it helps one decide to and act upon living authentically to themselves every day. No matter what ione experiences, nothing can be more valuable than your authenticity!

    Thank you again for your post and your beautiful blog in general! :)

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  8. Danielle I love this! Thank you so much for being so honest about everything. I have six tattoos and am planning on adding a half sleeve to my shoulder tattoo.
    It's really sad that people do judge us based on being tattooed but I love everything about mine and would not change a thing! For every person that says something bad, there is another you would never talk to. PS. I love your blog!

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  10. I love this!! I think you touched on every important aspect just perfectly! So, well done!!

    And funny (or not so funny,ha) story! Years ago when I was wedding planning a super nice older woman I worked with wanted to see my dress so I had it up on the computer one day. Well another lady butted in and said "what a waste on such a pretty dress and on the whole wedding, what's the point?" Some people say the craziest things!!

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  11. I really love this post, so thank you. I'm about to get my first tattoo here pretty soon (on the side of my ring finger), and this was just what I needed.

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  12. i really enjoyed reading this!

    although i am not heavily tattooed, i do have two large pieces, one which is on my upper arm. in may i am going to be a bridesmaid in my brother's wedding. i come from a very conservative family, and am not looking forward to hearing what they have to say. i've definitely heard "ruining the pictures" a couple of times already.

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  13. Beautiful written, Danielle! I got my first tattoo when I was 27 years old, and I'm so grateful for that. I think I have some awesome pieces - I was even featured on Tattoo Tuesday! ;-)

    One thing I would like to add about being judged though: yes, you will be judged for your tattoos. You will be categorized and become "the tattooed friend", as you put it.

    But you know what?

    People judge and are judged all the time. That's human nature. With or without tattoos. Not having a full sleeve or a chest piece will not make you un-judged. You will still be judged and categorized for other things. Your clothes, the car that you drive, the color of your hair or skin, the way you speak and walk and everything else. So if someone wants to get a tattoo but is afraid of being judged, newsflash: you already are, so go for it.

    Before I was 'the tattoo girl' I was the 'short redhead girl with funny accent'. :-)

    I think that once you leave that worry behind you really feel liberated. People are different and that's awesome. I would hate to look like everybody else.

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  14. This is great! I have had the remarks "but youre too nice to have tattoos" "dont get any more, you are too pretty for that" But little do they know that tattoos dont define, they just accentuate. Thanks for explaining it so well!

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  15. Though I do not have any tattoos (not really for any big reason- I just never had the money or couldn't decide what I wanted) I have lots of friends with them and I adore your blog. My daughter is 16 and has been begging for one (so many teens have them...in fact, her yearbook has a full color double spread dedicated to it!). She can do what she wants at 18 of course but I've been trying to encourage her to wait like you did until she's in her 20s because she'll be more mature...I think at that time she'd more likely get what SHE wants, not what her "friends" think is cool. Thanks for the great write up- I'm going to send it to her :D

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  16. Dear Danielle,

    I loved this post. I'm finishing up an education degree at a conservative Christian college.... with a wrist tattoo. I can already relate to your stories and feel judged on a pretty consistent basis about my tattoo. (I probably shouldn't tell them that this is the first of many and am about to start a half sleeve.) Your stories gave me hope that someday I can work as a teacher even though I have tattoos, and that people are wrong when they say I'm 'just going though a phase.' Thanks for being an inspiration. :)
    -nicole

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  17. I've been contemplating getting more visible tattoos for the past couple of years & I'm definitely ready for more. Thank you so much for this! It's very encouraging & helpful.

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  18. What a great post! You really covered everything and I hope this helps those who might be on the fence.

    I have 5. 4 of which are visible. 2 of those are large and in charge. Though I can wear a cardigan, put my hair down and you would only see the one on my wrist. I definitely feel judged whenever I'm out and about. It's funny how differently people look at me when they see me in the summer, as opposed to when I'm covered up. You want to shout "But I'm the same person!"

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  19. Great Post! thanks for the insight, I'm about to have my 5th tattoo, I love them more everyday ^__^

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  20. Thanks for the insight! I have always loved tattoos but been to nervous to get them. I worry about it affecting my ability to get hired as a teacher, but the artist side of me is begging to be covered. Great advice!
    Nikki

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  21. Danielle-

    Just curious, what made you want to get tattoos in the first place? It was clearly a great decision for you- but just curious because I feel like people with lots of tattoos come from families who have lots of tattoos and it doesn't look like your parents do. Just wondering what INITIALLY inspired you. :)

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  22. Well said! I recently got my first tattoo - the words "let it be" on my forearm. I didn't think that something so simple, tasteful, and little could be such a big deal to some people! My mother keeps telling me I'm going to get addicted and highly frowns upon it, and I still cannot figure out why. I am choosing to get my next tattoo in a semi-hide-able place. This post really helped me see that I need to not let it bother me so much and that it happens to (almost) everyone. Thanks! :D

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  23. You are awesome. More power to you!
    BTW...I'm an aspiring English teacher myself. If only California had more teaching jobs :( *Sigh*

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  24. Well written and so very true.

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  25. Yay, thanks for this perfectly-timed post! I'm 21 and got my first tattoo on my thigh a year ago, which is visible in shorts and skirts, but easily covered if need be. Have just had a consult about my next one which will be on my upper arm and just as large. I've thought about for pretty much my whole life so I don't have any doubts, although I have to admit I'd never thought about OTHER people's weddings! Have decided it doesn't bother me though- if someone important didn't like it then they're obviously not as important as I thought. I think traditional (Maori) tattoos are so common here that people don't get too hung about tattoos of any kind, unless they're offensive. Helps that I live in such a cultured city too!

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  26. I love...LOVE the dress analogy...I may have to link you on this bc it is very well articulated and covers many a tattoo base...

    Just wish I knew more fabulous tattooed mamas like you {ahem, and ME} in real life
    :)

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  27. I totally agree! I thought long and hard about my chestpiece and sleeve, especially considering that I was aiming for a career in government (which I now have), but ultimately it mattered more to me that I be true to myself than worry about what people think about me.

    I agree with wanting to just cover up to not have to deal with the attention sometimes, though. When I was a teenager and would see all those cool, heavily tattooed older people at shows, I couldn't wait to get my tattoos started so that I could show off - now I'm very likely to throw on a cardigan before heading out because I can't STAND drunk 19 year olds coming up to ask if my tattoos are real/hurt.

    Your work is beautiful! Are you planning on adding more, or are you taking a break?

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  28. I actually just got my first tattoo last weekend. I'd been thinking about it for about 4 years (since I was 18) but finally decided to take the plunge after (1) I had settled on a design for more than a year and (2) I found beautiful bloggers like you that inspired me to go ahead and do it.

    It's on my back, hidden away for work's sake (but even my boss asked me to pull back my shirt to see it! my whole office loved it. my mom/dad not so much. my hubby got one with me.)

    but, thanks for writing this! you're truly an amazing writer and such an inspiration :)

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  29. I love this. I know I was basically un-asked to be a bridesmaid when the decided upon dresses were not going to cover my tattoos and she didn't want them in the pictures. She actually asked if I would cover them with make up and I was willing since it was her day. Oh well.

    I have also been trying to hide them at my daughter's play dates and baby groups because here in CT people are conservative. I love your dress analogy, it will make it much easier to explain them to someone who isn't tattooed. Thanks!

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  30. This is a really great piece! So well written.

    I only have one tattoo, but I choose to cover it up when I go out. It's between my shoulder blades so would be easily visible in any dress or top with any kind of low-cut back... or not even that low. I got so sick of people asking me what it means, openly mocking my idea, and wanting to discuss whatever crappy tattoo they've got, that it only took me about a year to decide that, seeing as my tattoo was for me anyway, I was happy to cover it in public.

    I was 21 when I got that tattoo, and this weekend I am going to book in for my second - a rib piece. I'm almost 27 years old. I'm SO glad that I waited until I was 21 to get my first, and I'm even really happy that I have waited another six years to get my second. My ideas have changed and developed so much over the past few years that I know waiting was the right choice for me.

    After this next one, I can't wait to get more, because I'm confident that I'm mature enough and thoughtful enough now not only to make the right decisions, but to handle the consequences - good and bad - of being tattooed.

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  31. Thankyou for this article. I, like you, have always felt the pull towards tattoos and have many super ideas! I have also decided to take a leaf from your book and wait until my mid-twenties to make sure I am absolutely ready... though I'm very glad that's not far away, because I just can't wait! I think yours are beautiful and suit you down to the ground. A very well-written post, to be proud of :)

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  32. Very articulately and expressively written, thank you.

    I've definitely noticed people looking at my half sleeve. And sometimes I think I should hide it from certain people...but then I don't bother because I love my tattoo :)

    Your ink is beautiful, btw.

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  33. Danielle this post is fantastic. I love the honesty and realness of this post. There are a lot of things that you have to think about prior to tattooing and you brought up so many great and valid points. This post meant a lot to me because even though I am not heavily tattooed the tattoos I do have are in very visible places, my chest and my wrist, which I have to cover up at work. Sometimes it can be a hassle but I don't regret my tattoos and I see them as being apart of who I am. Wouldn't change it for the world.

    Great post!

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  34. I really enjoyed this post. I'm pretty sure I've also been referred to as the tattooed friend. When I first got some of my tattoos I had people ask me why such a pretty girl would do that to herself, but I didn't let that discourage me from getting more. I love my tattoos and I feel like I'm a more confident person since I got them. I'm definitely more comfortable in my own skin. I've actually looked back at pictures of myself before my arms were tattooed and felt like I was looking at pictures of someone else.

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  35. Great post! I am definitely misunderstood by most of my family about tattoos. It's a bummer when people don't accept you for who you are and what you like. I love my tattoos regardless! This post was very encouraging.

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  36. this is a great post. i appreciate your honesty :) it must have been hard to get used to people judging you. i know i am so sensitive to that and i dont even have any visible tattoos. i keep mine limited to my legs and back. but my dad is heavily tattooed and my mom likes them so i am lucky to have an open minded family.

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  37. I needed to hear this now.

    I started about a month ago thinking, "I don't think chest tattoos are really for me," which changed to "I think they look great on other girls but not me," and then to "I really want one but I would have to hide it at work" and finally "well, here's my concept page and a super awesome meaning and design idea."

    I've been struggling with the idea of having a slightly more visible tattoo, researching high-necked shirts endlessly online, etc. I've been waiting for something to slap me in the face and say "do what YOU want to do" and this was it.

    So thank you, Danielle, I'm taking this as a sign to stop thinking about it in terms of what others think and rather think about what is best for me. <3

    http://prettyyoumaybe.blogspot.com

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  38. This post definitely hit home for me. I have for quite some time been "the tattooed girl" to a few of my friendship groups, and it's actually pushed me to cover them more often than I may otherwise when I'm around coworkers/the circle of friends who seem to identify me that way, as a means of bringing focus back to my other, non-physical qualities. As disheartening and upsetting as it can be at times to feel singled-out and sometimes stereotyped, it's refreshing to see another woman write out similar emotions. So thanx :)

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  39. From one heavily tattooed mama to another, you have summed this up so nicely. It is especially timely for me now, as I am looking for a job and while my previous jobs may have accepted it, I can't help but cringe at the thought of having to cover up for an employer. That being said, I'd never change a thing about my tattoos.

    Also, I hate it when people think it's ok to touch my tattoos.

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  40. I just wanted to say that I love this and I love your tattoos :) I think they're beautiful and you're very brave. I have no desire to get any tattoos, but I have no problem with people who do. After all, I like lots of things I would never force anyone else to like or do!

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  41. Thank you Danielle for writing this. When I first got my tattoo everyone was giving me mix reaction, some liked it, some were not but it's fine with me.
    So this is the post that I would go and read over and over again just to remind myself that getting a tattoo is not a crime.

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  42. This post is amazing! Thanks so much for posting so honestly. I'm scheduled for a new piece this Saturday and reading this eased my nerves a little more :)

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  43. Such a beautiful post! I'm aching to get more tattoos and this was just the reminder that I needed to do something I'll forever be in love with.

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  44. I wouldn't consider myself heavily tattooed by any means, but most of my tattoos are on visible parts of my body (mainly arms) and this means I stand out. So I'm the girl who is always wearing sweaters in the summer because 1) I work in a conservative environment and 2) I got to the point where I didn't want to hear questions or get stares (it doesn't help that I'm Jewish; that brings all sorts of other issues to being tattooed).
    This was a lovely post and it really conveys the self-confidence needed when deciding to alter your appearance in a way that others may not deem appropriate. Thank you for the reminder, which I need from time to time, that we make choices for ourselves and even with negativity we need to have the self confidence to carry on living as authentically as possible. Thanks! (p.s. long time reader, first-time commenter)

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  45. Thank you for writing this!
    I would not consider myself heavily tattooed but I do have some fairly large and visible pieces. I have not really noticed much negativity from anyone but I do get a lot of stares.
    I find it quite odd that some people think it is okay to make negative or rude comments about body art. It would be like me saying to them that I thought they would look so nice if only they weren't wearing such an awful shirt. It is just very bizarre.
    I love my tattoos and think they are beautiful. That is all that matters. And there are definitely more in my future.

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  46. SO glad you did this. I've definitely dealt with all of these situations and while I still love ALL of my pieces, it can definitely get disheartening. Glad to have someone address this :)

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  47. thank you for this honest and well-written post. the timing is also impeccable since i recently started thinking about a half sleeve. i already have one small tattoo but it's easily hidden. your post gave me much to think about!
    PS love your blog! :)

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  48. I've never been a blog reader but have been following your blog for a few months now and just love it! I read every day and Tattoo Tuesday is definitely my favorite. I've been interested in tattoos since I was 15 and got my first at 21 (also glad I waited). Now at 28, I have quite a lot and plan on being pretty covered. It's funny how before every tattoo I still get nervous and am a little self conscious showing people afterward, but then I always end up wishing it was even bigger or wanting another piece right away. I completely agree with Nicky's comment- after being tattooed I feel more confident and comfortable in my skin. Looking this way actually makes me feel normal and was a really good decision for me personally, despite any negativity associated with it. Thanks for this post, and I'm looking forward to next Tuesday!
    <3 Jess

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  49. I totally agree with you! I works as a caseworker and I usually show my tattoos but some days I don't want to deal with the questions from clients so I wear a scarf or something. It is really disheartening for me also when someone assumes something about me because of my tattoos. I actually had a client tell me that I was a "tough chick that knew about shootings guns". Okay, so maybe he was crazy! But 99.9% of the time, being heavily tattooed is a positive experience.

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  50. Love this post!
    I think its absolutely something everybody needs to think about.

    Im glad times have changed these past few years, and its getting more and more acceptable to have tattoos, and not be judged.
    All of mine, depending on what I wear are "visible" and thankfully I am yet to come across any negativity,most people smile, or comment about how "cute" or pretty they are, I even had people in Thailand coming up and patting the kitty on my arm, for good luck, lol.
    Its such a common thing here in Australia now, that you see alot of people working with visible tattoos, even in more "business" type places, you see more people of a day out with tattoos, as apposed to without, so it kind of makes it alot less judgemental,and alot more accepted thankfully :)

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  51. great post and so true. i feel so comfortable with all of my tattoos but i have to admit that i'm a bit scared what will happen after finishing my studies and starting to work. i hope i'll find a nice work place where i'm accepted the way i am.

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  52. Its so weird reading this because just yesterday i wrote the 1st draft of a post i plan to blog on tattoos in relation to them being works of art and the differences between the perception of a 'tattooed' person and the reality nowadays! In fact i wonder would you mind if i used your photo as i wanted to show examples of the many beautiful women i've discovered in the blogosphere who have multiple tatts?

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  53. such a lovely, well written post. i'm going to get my daughter to read it, as she faces so much negativity relating to her tattoos (especially from her father!). i personally think tattoos are beautiful and people should never have to cover them up!

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  54. good thoughts. i think that no one who really wants to get visible tattoos really cares what others think of them. i totally understand your concerns though. but look at you! how can anyone seeing your beautiful face not like the rest of you? you're gorgeous and i'm reading your blog for a while now and you're overall a gorgeous person. don't let anyone get you down because of what you chose to do with your skin.

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  55. Couldn't agree more... And tattoos are for us, it doesn't matter what everyone else says...

    The pic is so cute!!! Loved your nails...

    The touching thing it's so awkward!
    Haha!

    xoxo
    Duda

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  56. Great advice! Um, I also love the nail polish you are wearing in the pic!! What is it?

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  57. Great post! I live in a small town as well and the majority of the population is very conservative. I keep mine covered at work, but most people know that I have visible tattoos. I haven't gotton any openly negative comments yet-but I expect I will at some point and it's just something that comes with it. I dont' regret any of my tattoos and I'm happy knowing that I'm making this life the one I want it to be :)
    P.S. I love all of your tattoos-they're all so gorgeous!

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  58. i'm a tattoo artist in Nova Scotia, and have pretty visible tattoos. just the other night i was out at a restaurant and got the whole 'show me your tattoo!!' thing in the bathroom, with a girl pulling at the neck of my shirt to see my chest piece! it's fine to look but respect personal space people!

    i'm used to dealing with all the issues as everyone knows that i do tattoos for a living. my family is great and supportive, i've tattooed a lot of family members and tons & tons of friends, and i've even tattooed my mom 4 times :) my fiance's grandparents are older and we respect their opinions so we cover up our tattoos when we visit. like you have mentioned, sometimes it's just easier to not deal with them. nobody gets hurt:) (except i was sweating to death in their house and couldn't take off my sweater!)

    being on the other side of the needle here i've definitely talked young people out of getting certain things or getting them in certain places. i pretty much give lectures to young people with no other tattoos who might want something on their hand or neck. i give them my spiel about being in their workplaces, and possibly not being with the same job forever and yes, it will be harder to find some other job. because as you said people do judge people. but i've flat out told people, you know i could just take your money and do it, but i won't feel good about it and you can't go back from getting tattoos in some of those very visible places.
    there is a point where if i thought it may not be a good idea i will change my mind and do a tattoo if i feel they prove themselves by being mature about their decisions and have really put a lot of thought into it. i've had very mature 18, 19 and 20 year olds ... and then again i've had super immature 40 year olds! so it really depends on the person.

    i myself waited until i was 24. i did try to get one when i was 16, my mom even came with me. but the shop said no, i had to be 18. i was so pissed (and it didn't help my mom ended up taking my appointment and getting one instead!!)... but you know what, i went back to the same shop at 24 and for my first real tattoo that i actually thought about for years and designed myself... and i thanked them for not doing that tattoo on me at 16. it definitely would have been covered up by now! i just wanted a 'tattoo' and picked something random out of a book. so they said no. because i wasn't ready. so now that's how i work. we do not have flash books here at our shop to dissuade people from the impulsive decisions. we do custom work and work with our clients to give them the best tattoo possible! not just a tweety bird on a whim.

    sorry for the book here! but i could write on about this for pages and pages!! thanks for reading :) i'm fairly new to your blog but i've really liked what i've been reading so far

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  59. great post danielle. i'm 27 and planning my first tattoo. i have wanted to get one since i was 18 but decided to wait until i was older. i still want to so i'm going for it. eventually. i am getting married in june and i would like to wait until after that just so i don't have a new tattoo as the focus on the wedding day. you got me thinking though. i know a friend wants me to be in her wedding next year and i hadn't thought about how a tattoo would affect that. i'm sure she wouldn't care but you bring up a good point with the families. i guess that is a decision i will have to make. thanks for the great post!!

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  60. I love this post! You're so brave. :)

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  61. This has been really helpful. Thank you so much. This year will be a year of getting my first big arm tattoo and I'm so excited!!!! :)

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  62. as someone who also has visible tattoos i feel like you hit the nail on the head. anyone considering getting a tattoo should see this. there's so many things that people dont tell you about it. this is a wonderful idea, thank you! <3

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  63. Love this! Really amazing insight. I have been wanting to get tattoos for a long time and have worried about all of this. That and I've either been preggers or nursing for the past almost 3 years.:) Thank you again Danielle, you continue to make the blogging world an amazing positive place. xo

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  64. have just foudn you through twitter, and i love this post, so very honest..
    i have been tempted to have a tattoo done in the past, btu never did as i wasn't sure at the time that i would ba happy to have it forever..

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  65. I like the bright dress analogy, that's so true.

    I agree completely with all of this. At the shop I work at we call hand/face/neck tattoos 'life ruiners' or 'job stoppers', haha.

    I'm pretty darn visibly tattooed but I still stopped at the neck and hands because I still feel like I haven't completely decided what I want to do with my life, and those tattoos would severely limit my choices.

    I'm going to link to this post in my 'Tattoo FAQ' section on my blog, mmkay?

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  66. this was a great read! and i enjoy your easy-reading writing style. dainty squid linked you over, btw. xo

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  67. awesome post!!
    i don't have many tattoos yet, but I plan on getting much much more! i can't wait. :)
    thanks for sharing your experiences and giving awesome advice.

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  68. It is nice to know other people have had to go through the same trials and tribulations as me. I feel less like an outcast :) Yes, I like the attention I get from my arms... but the conservative in law who say " why did you do that to your self?" or the co works who said to my face" Oh you are going to regret that!" Or the stangers that say " you are pretty, why did you get tattoos?" THey all leave me questioning myself and feeling ...well, bad sometimes. I think your anology for a loud dress you cant take off it completely true. People want to come up to you and talk about it, ask questions, show you thiers. Sometimes it gets to me. Just cuz i have tats doesnt mean i worship the devil. (Hmm.....Maybe i should get that tattooed on me. )lol

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  69. thanks so much for writing this! ever since i saw your wedding pics on offbeat bride, i have loved your tattoos. you even inspired me to get a similar one of my husband's initials when we got married. right now i only have four tattoos (sternum, shoulders and foot) but i definitely would want more. hearing how you have thoughtfully processed the choice to be "heavily tattooed" raised some questions for me and inspires me to really think things through even more than i already have.

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  70. Thank you so much for this information! I'm currently 18 and in college studying to be a teacher. I've had teachers in the past that have had tattoos while I was in high school but I'm slightly concerned since my tattoos are going to be harder to hide. The first tattoo I'm planning to get is going to be on my arm. I'm debating between my wrist where I could cover up the tattoo with a bracelet or just go ahead and go full on my arm. That is the tattoo I'm planning on being the most visible. (Although I might get my sorority Delta Tau tattooed somewhere where it could be seen just a smidge but I haven't officially decided on that one just yet.)
    I think that I'm going to go ahead and go full arm but just not color in my tattoo very heavily like I had been planning to in the past. Thank you for the advice!

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  71. Amaaaazing posts. So well-written, Danielle <3

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  72. Thank you for this. I truly never expected having people grab my arms and be so vocal with their opinions. At first it was bothersome but I just had to keep reminding myself I chose these tattoos for a reason I will love them no matter what anyone says.

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  73. Brilliant post amazingly written.
    xx

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  74. Really great post Danielle!!

    I too waited until I was 21 to get tattooed, I feel that the age I got my first tattoo I was mature enough to get something I truly wanted! I only have 2 small tattoos but both in very visible places, I work in a fashion store and get comments every day. Most are positive, but I have my fiances name on my foot and I get a lot of negative 'what if you break up' comments, do people really think I am stupid enough to get somenes name tattooed on me if I wasn't going to spend the rest of my life with them!
    I have also run into some adversity about my fiances tattoos, he has a full sleeve and people have said bad things about it to me, as if he is a bad person because he has tattoos, it makes me so mad!!

    This post had really helped me put things into perspective, I'm getting a new tattoo on monday and I can't wait to get even more as I get older and think of new things that I want, reading your blog inspires me that you can still be a cute girly girl and a great mom and have cool tattoos too!

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  75. this is so wonderfully put. i'm getting tattooed again in a few weeks- for the first time on my arms at least- and this post really resonated with me. i'm not hugely tattooed but i have two large pieces on my thighs are they always garner attention, whether i like it or not. all the negative comments i've received however i ignore and just think about what my pieces mean to me and why i got them in the first place.

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  76. Thanks for this. I feel the exact same way. While I've never regretted my tattoos, lately I've been questioning my choices as I was recently made redundant and am desperately searching for work. Problem is the jobs I am good at and want are the types where having prominent tattoos is a problem. It upsets me that I am not being seen for my skills but for how I look, which is totally unfair but something I knew would happen when I first got my arms tattooed. So thanks for writing this so eloquently and helping me get over it :)

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  77. GREAT post! I've wanted a tattoo for a long time and you've given me even more to think about before I do. Thank you!!

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  78. good post.i also wish i had read this a few years ago. i am one of those people in the professional world, and also have a pretty big chest piece. having to cove up my tattoos on a daily basis is quite annoying at times. though, i know it makes me who i am and i really enjoy the fact that i am maintaining a sense of self while in some ways playing the game of the material world.

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  79. this is so awesome. i have 11 tattoos and counting and you are so right. about everything. :)

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  80. I love this post! I loved your analogy with the brightly colored dress. Thats exactly how I feel. Sometimes I feel like I look all around too busy if I actually do wear a heavily printed or bright colored dress paired up with my tattoos. So I get frustrated and end up taking it off.

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  81. I came across your blog and think you are wonderful... thank you for the honest words... I got my first tattoo a month ago for my birthday... after getting it I feel like a new person... like I have been waiting my whole life to get it and I can't wait for the next one and the next one and so on... You Rock!!

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  82. Fantastic post!
    I am a nurse in England and I am currently getting heavily tattooed. I have decided not to get ones visible at work (my right half sleeve is covered nicely by my scrubs). However, our hospital uniform policy does not mention tattoos so technically they are ok but I know some colleges who have faced negativity from patients and relatives due to their tattoos being on show.
    I know out of work my half sleeve is going to raise a few eyebrows and unwanted comments as I do live in a small rural community with a predominately ageing population. I am quite shy but I am ready to listen to what people have to say and then just gently remind them I did this to my skin for ME, not for them and although they are entitled to their opinion its not going to change my decisions and if they cannot say anything nice, then they should keep their opinions to themselves.
    Its such a shame in this day and age that some people cannot appreciate what a beautiful art form tattooing is and respect that.

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  83. great post. i, too, waited until my early 20s to start getting tattooed (mostly b/c i was broke from paying for college!) and i'm glad i waited. you echo most of the thoughts i give folks when asked the same question. as i write this, i'm actually eating a good meal and getting ready to head to Samuel O'Reilly's (the tattoo shop my fave artist, Dan, works at) for another session of work on my back piece:)

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  84. I fell in love with your blog about a month ago and have officially added you to my blogroll aka must see sites! I couldn't help but notice that you're an AZ resident. No I'm not a stalker, but you're pictures are a dead giveaway with the cactus and scenic views. I'm curious who you you recommend in the valley for tatts?

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  85. This is a great post, but the part about the weddings struck a chord. I don't really know how to express my feelings, but I just wanted to say that if your friends don't care about your tattoos, then you have nothing to worry about. It's about them, not anybody else, not even family. Especially if you're talking about conservative people; they're not more right than you are just because there's more of them, or because it's more socially acceptable. You would never have a conservative person cover up their personal expressions, you would just let them be their selves. Like they should let you be.
    I really hope I'm making sense here ;)

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  86. I love this post, I only have two tattoos myself, one on my lower back and one around my thigh - I love them and want more, but my boyfirneds hates them. I guess It's a personal choie thing, just like if people don't like your shoes or coat.
    Anyway, I love you tattoos!
    Jen
    http://scarletwonderland.wordpress.com

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  87. I can't believe someone told you that you were ruining their pictures. People can be so mean. I love the analogy of wearing a brightly colored dress all the time. I don't have a single tattoo, but mostly because I've just been too chicken. :) xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. David Nelson of davidanelsonphotography-- Because a friend doesn't want you in their wedding because you have visible tattoos isn't being mean spirited or not really a friend. As a photographer Tattoos on bridesmaids stick out like a third eye. Standing near the bride in a photo the eye is naturally drawn to the tattoo, because its out of place. If you ever analyze an effective piece of advertising you will often find that you are drawn to that ad because of something different in the ad. It is placed there intentionally and subconsiously your mind says something isn't right about this.

      Delete
    2. Well... Seems like it won't be a problem for my wedding! Since the bride (me) has tattoos, I will have double the attention!!!

      Delete
  88. I just found your blog and I love this post!! Your advice is great. I think it is so important to feel comfortable in your own skin and not feel put upon by the views of others. Tattoos are an extension of the tattooed person's personality, the reason for the tattoos might be quite personal, but that's the beauty of them! If you're visibly or extensively tattooed, you become 'public' property that anyone is allowed to comment on, likewise when you're pregnant. I have two tattoos, both on my upper arms. I intend to have more and bigger(!) and now that I'm in my mid-30's I have gone well past what people think. I have a professional job and probably appear to be an unlikely looking tattoo fan. I think it says alot about the people who have negative opinions and make rude comments : )

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  89. I don't really want to be anonymous, but I want to compliment you on your blog, I'm a photographer and I have a special girl (22) that I use when I testing stuff out or just want to feel good. She's bright, energetic and has an aura of the love of life that just radiates from her being, she's a little zany loves fairies, pixie dust and glitter. She told me she was going to get a tattoo and I mentioned that tattoo removal is by far the largest cosmetic surgery procedure today, and then I mentioned that every honest tattooed person when giving advice to those seeking a tattoo suggested after deciding on a design to think about it for 18 to 24 months because we change. She still seemed determined and so I gave her you dress analogy--and of all the analogies, etc that is by far the best and she has put off the decision.

    You and your many fans should know that as a photographer, I will not shoot women with tattoos, there is no market for the photos.

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    Replies
    1. I've seen plenty of women with tattoo photography. I guess you are looking at just one market.

      Delete
  90. Hi Danielle,
    I'm 40 years old and I always loved them. I find them so attractive.
    I'm getting my first tattoo in two weeks. A full sleeve. I'm a little nervous because I work in a bank, but I can't wait my only regret is that I waited this long.
    Your tattoos are part of who you are. Thanks for your blog it really made me feel more comfortable.
    Andrew from Montreal,Canada

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  91. Thankyou for writing this post. I have two tattoos and I'm planning to get my third this week.
    My third will be the most important so far as it's a memorial of someone very close to me who died. I hadn't had any negative comments until this weekend where one of my future work colleges (I was at a work induction) have me a funny look when I questioned her on their tattoo policy and she replied with 'oh, you haven't got sleeves have you'? in a really offensive way.
    Though I wasn't openly upset it really too me aback and I started to feel a bit bad about myself and it put me off getting another tattoo.
    However I have now realized that some people are just not going to understand, and in the end, the tattoo is for me and my love for my Grandad :)

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  92. such honest and articulate words. thank you for sharing.

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  93. Loved the post! I have that issue with my family more than anywhere. I'm known as the "crazy one". I visited my family for Christmas and surprisingly got a men from my very conservative father. My grandmother said they were pretty and it made me feel good but I know that they didn't feel very comfortable but they love me. I also think it was because my cousin got to them first with a couple tattoos....yet, mine are bigger, colorful and more visible now.

    Awesome words, helping people think wisely and not feel bad ;)

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  94. Hi, i am feeling little nervours and bad after tatooing. I am still thinking why i did that. Please tell me some good words/suggestion to recover from this.

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  95. This was awesome, thank you!

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  96. This is a great article. It doesn't just touch at one point and leave it at that. You get down to the real part of the issue--that it is various and will continue to be. I'm also come from a conservative family but am immensely artistic and love body art. Knowing that when I get my tattoos I'll have some family members look at me and think, "she was such a good girl" hurts, but it's part of the process. You're right--tattoos DON'T make you who you are, but they CAN change the way people treat you. I already know that from the way some of my family react to people with ink. Your tattoos are beautiful, and that picture of your family is adorable! Thanks for the article it was a nice change of pace :)

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  99. I consider myself heavily tattooed. I’m a 29-year old girl, I never liked tattoos on my self but do love them on guys. My ex-bf is almost fully suited (sleeves, legs, chest, back, ..) when I met him I had no tattoos. Slowly, becaus he likes tattooed girls, I got tattooed. I now have both arms sleeved, my left leg covered from my foot till hip, several other small pieces, incl. some small facial tattoos. consider myself very heavily tattooed. Our relation stranded about 7 months ago and I’m stil single, becaus off my tattoos. I always cover up my tattoos, clothes and make-up. I wish I never got tattooed although I still feel very attracted to heavily tattooed men.

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    Replies
    1. Hi I always wanted to get inked. I waited this year at 40 to get my first one. Imagine a full sleeve/chest piece. I find women with tattoos very attractive in fact more than women without tattoos.
      Please don't blame tattoos for being single. It will come one day. You should never have to hide art.

      Regards,
      Andrew

      Delete
  100. I love how you are so confident with your tattoos. I have 7 tattoos all of them are easily hidden aside from the two on my wrists; and I have to say I do find it annoying when people ask about them, and I'm tired of explaining myself. To me they are symbolism and pretty self explanatory in their own right so it's not difficult to figure out...My parents however did make me feel kind of ugly for having them, but I'm over it now, every tattoo I have it a part of who i am, they aren't just there so to speak cause I was bored and wanted a cool design. But thanks for the reassurance in having ink and props to you for being ok with baring it all despite all the judgement :)

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  102. Awesome post! The article is wonderfully written and the way the points are discussed is very helpful and informative. Amazing post…
    Tattoos for Women

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  103. Here is a link that I think you will find interesting. Thanks for this wonderful post and hoping to post more of this.

    Tattoo Models

    ReplyDelete
  104. I am a little confused. I see thousands of women who are heavily and visibly tattooed, so it certainly isn't a sign of differentiation, anymore. I live in a town of less than 4,000 and I think you could count the non- tattooed women under 30 on your left pinky (but I haven't found her yet). Mothers go into the parlor for mother/daughter breast butterflies, and everybody has stars all over themselves.
    Maybe there are still places in the south or midwest where this isn't so, though I travel a lot, and it seems that rural and conservative places abound with tattoo parlors.
    My daughter's best friend is a "lifestyle"model, and her other best friend is fully 80% tatted, so I am not unfamiliar with the ink subculture.
    So, is it possible that you are actually projecting your own needs and desires to be considered different upon a population that is, actually, quite used to visibly inked women? I do have some hypotheses about the desire for radical body modification (heavy tattooing barely qualifies for that, though there are some extreme examples). In general, most of the women I know who are heavily tattooed suffered some sort of trauma, such as sexual assault, a parent dying at a young age, or a step parent that was difficult to endure. I don't have statistics, nor am I a professional psychologist, but I am curious if you fall into this category.

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  107. Great post! I have 2 tattoos- a dragon on my right calf, and my husband's name on my left wrist. I get judged by TONS of people for having my husband's name on me- "it's bad luck" "tattooing a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/etc's name is a bad omen for the relationship!" I've heard it all. Well, let me just say this: I got the tat at almost 10 years into our marriage, and we are about to celebrate our 15th. Bad omen? Nope, we are still going strong :)
    People will judge us no matter what we do. Be proud of who you are, and don't be afraid to show your tattoos!

    ReplyDelete
  108. I absolutely love this most and just can't agree more with what you have said, about the awkwardness that will inevitably creep up in certain situations, but also about what my tattoos really represent to me - part of my life, my story, my history, I always tell people when they ask me what will I think when I'm 60 and have tattoos that I will always remember the time in my life when I got them, who I was then, and how that has made me the person I am now.

    It's funny, one of the most common questions about tattoos is "what does it stand for", I usually give the expected superficial response that I love animals, or nature, or what have you - but really, each one represents a part of myself.

    On a separate note, I have 2 younger nieces, and they love my tattoos. Both of their parents (my sister and her husband) are tattooed, so I think seeing "pictures" on people is just normal to them. They never ask why, but every time I wear a tank top and my back is exposed they love to trace the stars with their fingers and say things like "how pretty", and count them down my back. It makes me so happy, and so innocently not judged. And that makes up for all the douchy comments and looks in the world.

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  109. Thank you Megan ! You gave me the final push, I am 25 years old and have been dreaming about getting tattooed since I was twelve or so.
    My husband was for it, but I was still not sure it would be the right thing to do. It will chamge many things in my life.
    I am planning to get both arms done from shoulders to wrists. This will have to be done in a short time, not longer than six weeks ! The thing is we cannot afford all this, it costs too much. But we have been planning a vacation to Indonesia, where there are very good artists and the prices are less than a third of over here !!
    My husband has been there several times already and knows an artist personally. We have arranged to have him do me. So I'll leave the States with virgin skin and come back as a well tattooed woman !!
    I'm nervous like hell thinking about it, but the dicision stands !
    Carole-Lynn

    ReplyDelete
  110. Even though this post is going back a few years, it's such a great read (and re-read!) for me. I got tattooed in my 20s, planning my half sleeve. One thing led to another, and with a hopeful career in a hair salon I decided to go all the way. I'm no longer working in a salon, but in an office environment, and I often feel judged. My bosses are open about it, but I'll cover up most of the time. Once in a while when I do wear a short sleeved shirt I'll get the negative comments "Oh, I could never get a tattoo, I hate them!" or the most common, "But you're so pretty, when will you have those removed?" It can be quite disheartening.

    Similarly to you, most of my friends are not tattooed, and I'm known as the rebellious, tattooed friend. I guess I need to start owning it, and wearing them loud and proud! I love the art on my body - I actually drew all of my tattoos - and I'll continue to embrace and be proud of myself for who I am. As always, a huge thanks for being so open and honest on your blog.

    ReplyDelete
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