Tattoo Thoughts: Buzzfeed’s “16 Questions People with Tattoos are Tired of Answering”

Buzzfeed    Every so often, an article is posted about things that people with tattoos don’t like being asked or dislike about the attitude they get from people who don’t like tattoos. Some of the points are valid, but some of the complaints really seem like hypersensitive overreactions to what is just a genuine interest about a person’s body art.

BuzzFeed recently ran an article titled “16 Questions People With Tattoos are Tired of Answering”. Normally, I just read these lists, ponder them for a few minutes, and then move on. This time, I think I should publish my own responses to these questions

Here is the main article:  16 Questions People with Tattoos are Tired of Answering

  1. Can I Touch it?
    1. The response to this is easy: Yes or No. If someone tries to touch it without your permission, that’s a problem that goes well beyond you having a tattoo. It is them violating your personal space. Otherwise, if they ask, you say ‘no’ and that’s the end of it, there should be no further issue.
  2. Is that Real?
    1. A legitimate question. Tattooing techniques have advanced so much that the tell-tale scarring that accompanies tattoos has all but gone away (People did not believe my Irish/Scottish flag tattoo was real at first, for that reason). Additionally, some people choose to get henna-style designs inked permanently on their body and you cannot always tell if it is done with temporary henna ink.
  3. Did it hurt?
    1. I don’t know what the problem with this question is. Some people are genuinely curious to know, if only for their personal edification. Other people may be considering getting a tattoo for the first time, or getting one in a place that has a reputation for being painful. So, they legitimately want to know.
  4. I’m Thinking about getting a Tattoo on My Side.  Do you think that’s going to hurt?
    1. See my response to Question #3
  5. What does it MEAN?! (Usually asked by a stranger in a public place)
    1. Once again, people are genuinely curious to know about your tattoo design. If don’t want any questions at all, don’t wear anything that shows off the tattoo, or don’t get it in a place where you can’t help but show it off. As far as not wanting to respond to questions from strangers, you always have the right to NOT respond, same as if they asked you about your clothes.
  6. What do you mean, “you just like it”?  IT HAS TO MEAN SOMETHING, right?
    1. Simple response: “Yes, it means I like it”. You can then excuse them from the conversation if they won’t let it go.
  7. Wanna see mine?
    1. People like to talk tattoos. They want to talk about yours. They want to talk about theirs. If they ask this question, the answer is easy: Yes or No.
  8. I really want to get my sleeve done!  How much is that going to cost?
    1. Really? If you get upset about getting this question, you shouldn’t have gotten a tattoo in the first place. This is a perfectly legitimate question. Someone asking this question knows you are not an artist who can give a quote, but they see you have a sleeve and just want to get a ballpark figure on what to expect.
  9. So… do you have any tattoos in *private* places?
    1. This is not an appropriate question at all, except from someone you are intimate with. You are perfectly within your rights to put someone in their place for stepping out of line to ask this.
  10. How long did it take?
    1. This is another legitimate question. Someone who has never gotten a tattoo, or only has small ones, has a legitimate desire to know what sort of time commitment they can expect.
  11. Are you an artist?
    1. If you’re not, you say ‘No’. This isn’t hard.
  12. Who did your tattoo?  Do you have their number?
    1. I have a real problem with people getting upset at this question. Finding a great tattoo artist is a matter of networking, in addition to research. If you happen to see tattoo work that you really like and appeals to you, it is natural to want to know who the artist is, in order to seek out their talents. I know I have referred the tattoo artist who has done most of my work to many friends looking for new ink.
  13. How will you ever get a JOB with those?
    1. When asked this way, it is a very obnoxious and condescending question. I would hope that, before someone gets tattooed, they would have given proper thought to how their body art will be received. Regardless, even if they haven’t, asking such a question a question in this manner is just someone trying to be judgmental.
  14. OMG, aren’t you afraid of getting a disease?
    1. A pretty dumb question from people who don’t know any better. However, if the person is genuinely concerned, you can explain about all the hygienic practices that responsible artists follow to ensure that even the tiniest chance of infection does not does not occur. If the person is just trying to be obnoxious, then ignore them.
  15. Who, so you’re like, a tough chick or something, right?
    1. Easy question to ignore. Nothing really to get worked up about.
  16. UGH, what are you going to look like when you’re 80?
    1. For starters, when I’m 80, I’ll have many other things to worry about. Of course, a really pithy response will be to share photos of any number of senior citizens who are proudly, and awesomely, rocking their ink in their later years.

Having been on both on both sides of the tattoo discussion (first hating them and then being an ardent fan of tattoos), I understand all the angles to the debate. While people who are vehemently against tattoos can be really obnoxious with how they share their attitudes, those who are angrily defensive of tattoos (characterized by many of the ‘annoyed’ responses they give to the above questions) are just as bad. They get tattoos, show them off and then go on the attack against anyone


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