What You See When You Look at My Tattoos
Versus what I see
You see regret. I see a positive life attitude.
It’s so intriguing when the plain-skinned tell tattooed folks that we will regret our choice, because that makes it sound as if regret is herpes: Once you have it, you’ve got it forever. Regret is a choice that people make; a perception that they voluntarily submit to. Tattoos teach you the pain and futility of trying to alter something that cannot be changed (at least not without a fuck ton of laser-knives eating your skin.)
I’m certainly not thrilled about all of my tattoos, some of which were poorly planned or didn’t pan out from conception to finished product. Some are spaced incorrectly. Others make dressing for fancy events a challenge. I would be lying if I said I’d never regretted some of my tattoos. But did I wallow around in the regret like a big ol’ heaving boar in mud? No. As a human being in charge of my brain, I told myself that I could obsess over it or I could snap out of it and accept my body for all of its imperfections, given to me by God or Chris. (Chris is the guy who tattooed me. No relation to God, as far as I know.)
After I changed my paradigm, I began to love my tattoos unconditionally. They became a part of my person, as central to my self image as my skin itself. I love them, not because they are perfect or timeless, but because they are me.
I fuck regret with all my might. I submit to nothing. I accept myself.
You see tattoos as a sign of the person. I don’t.
Oh, we’ve heard it all before. You think people with tattoos are trashy? Well bless your heart! You think that tatted people are criminals? Okay, honey. You say that tattoos are a sure sign of a hipster d-bag? Well, isn’t that a clever observation that has already been said in every conceivable way by every dimwit with a keyboard!
People have been getting tattooed since forever, and among our number you’ll find a wide array of races, classes and ideologies. If you think that you can assess someone’s moral stuff due to something as skin deep as tats, you’re a ding-dong. (Unless said tats involve Nazi imagery, in which case I hereby declare you Not a Ding-Dong.) If you automatically disparage me because of my body art, I want to say thank you. Now I know that you are the kind of person that I would never want to be friends with. I can give you my sweetest smile before releasing you to judge others … far away from me.
You see a job-killer. I see job satisfaction.
My tattoos are easily covered, so I don’t have to show them at work if I don’t feel like it… and usually I don’t. It’s the darndest thing, though. When I worked in companies where tattoos were verboten, I didn’t fit in — even though no one knew I had tattoos. In companies where they didn’t give a frig about tats as long as they didn’t prominently feature tits or the word “fuck”, I was my happiest.
That’s because those of us who feel comfortable getting tats aren’t ordinarily people who prostrate ourselves in front of the altar of propriety, especially not from some corporate overlord. Jobs that don’t like tattoos probably won’t like us. And we don’t want them either.
Furthermore, do you think that we are dumb-dumbs? Do you think that I wanted to be President of the United States until my exploratory committee broke the bad news that my GIANT-ASS tattoos might be untoward at a state dinner? I like working with weirdo artists in my little corner of the world and that’s why I’m not worried about gettin’ paid, y’all.
You see a trend. I see beauty and history.
Let me reiterate that tattoos are not some new and fantastic trend — they’ve been around forever, from Japan to New Zealand, dating back to 6,000 b.c. and still going strong in the 21st century. That’s for good reason. People are drawn to landmarks and milestones in our personal lives. We want to know that we are here, living right here and now, and that each of us has a story to tell. We want to show who we are, where we’ve been and why it took every ounce of our strength and courage to make it to where we are today. Every tattoo is a proclamation of self, bringing to the surface the wounds on our heart and playing out our most personal tragedies and accomplishments like a great saga on our skin.
Plus tatted up people are hot AF.