Tattoos are a really cool art form and we usually get them with permanence because the tattoo could either mean something to us, or we would get it just because it looks nice on our bodies.
Even though we are in Malaysia and Asian values are a major part of our families, the topic of tattoos is usually taboo and stigmatised. We are sure most of our parents grew up with the mindset that tattoos are for gangsters or for prisoners but in the past decade, more people are getting tattoos because it somehow it gives us a sense of our own identity and some of us get them to mark our life experiences, may it be bad or good.
Even if we have different reasons for getting tattoos, we can all agree on one thing which is the frustration we get when we get asked the same set of questions every time someone sees our tattoos, or when our relatives (especially our aunties) give unsolicited comments about it.
We know most of us would not mind explaining things once we get more comfortable with the person that is asking but if you are the person that is asking, be mindful.
That being said, here are 10 things you should stop saying to people with tattoos:
1.“Is it real?”/ “Can I touch it?”
Yes, it is real. Contrary to popular belief, we do not wake up early every day and draw on detailed tattoos with a marker pen, like how some girls do with make-up. We know of people who airbrush tattoos on or use henna, but if you look closely, you could tell the difference between a real tattoo and a fake one. And no, you cannot touch it. Why? Because it is just skin. Unless someone somehow managed to tattoo braille on them, you would not be able to feel anything.
2.“Did it hurt?”
ABUDEN. Of course it did! Imagine getting pricked by a needle, on full speed, 50 to 3,000 times per minute. It is basically an open wound; but a really awesome looking open wound. Parts of your body where there are nerve-endings or just basically nerves in general like the rib cage, inner elbow or the back of the knee would hurt a lot more than places like your back or your thigh. It feels like a cat scratching you or bee stings, but placement, size, type, and artist skill can make a big difference.
3. “You would not attract a good guy/girl when you have a tattoo”
How is this even a thing? Just because we have tattoos does not necessarily mean that we are going to attract/date gangsters. For all you know, the people with tattoos could be nicer or a much better person than the people without. Also, as a person with tattoos, if you attract someone that does not like tattoos then maybe that person is just not right for you. Last we checked, tattoos don't come with ugly personality.
4. “But you are really pretty/handsome”
When you say this, we really do not know if you are complimenting us or insulting us. We are not sure if you like it or do not like it. Most of us with tattoos feel pretty confident when we showcase our tattoos, so throwing this kind of compli-sult (compliment + insult) would probably throw us off. Thanks, and no thanks? Stop being so vague.
5. “What does it mean?”/ “Do you have tattoos in places that is hidden?” (if you are a total stranger)
This should be common sense. If you just met a person with a tattoo, do not ask what it means. By asking that question, you could potentialy be opening a can of worms, and sometimes the meaning behind the tattoo could be something really, really personal. Also, why should we tell you if we have a hidden tattoo? Some of us are okay with explaining but some just have really deep meanings behind our tattoos that we are not comfortable sharing the first time we meet someone. Even if the tattoo does not have any meaning to it, it is better to play safe than to ask immediately what it means. Which leads us to our next point …
6. “If it does not mean anything then why did you get it?”
Because we wanted it? Tattoos are a from of art; we could just get them because it looked pretty or cool and we would want them displayed on our bodies. Not all tattoos have to have a hidden, deep meaning to them. Also, it actually means that we are strong-willed and when we want something, we go out and get it done. We made a permanent, irreversible (laser removal hurts more than getting the tattoo) decision and we're proud of it.
7. “Do you regret getting a tattoo?”
Almost all of us would have taken some time to think long and hard before making a decision for something as permanent as a tattoo. Do you want us to admit that you are right and we are wrong and tattoos are a huge mistake and Oh Lord forgive us for we have sinned? Because most likely we would not and we do not regret our tattoos.
8. “Are you not worried about what your tattoo would look like with work clothes/wedding gown/etc.?”
The thing about jobs is that there are some employers who would not mind. Nevertheless, Malaysian employers are not as open as, for example, American employers. Some of us do worry, which is most probably why we put it in places where it could be easily covered up. After getting tattoos, we tend to buy clothing that enhance it because it would definitely make us feel more unique. As for wedding clothes, it is totally up to the person getting married. We all know how to cover up when we need to. It is all about being appropriate for the situation.
9. “I don’t like guys/girls with tattoos” / “I would never get a tattoo”
Congratulations, we do not like you either. Jokes. But we probably like you a lot less now. Even if you follow up those sentences with “… but yours is cool”, it feels like there was some serious initial judgement going on. Plus, no one asked your opinion if you wanted a tattoo or not. That statement is passive aggressive and it really implies that having tattoos is something that we should not be proud of. You do you and we’ll do us, dude.
10. “Why would you spend so much money on tattoos?”
It is pretty simple, really. We are going to get something permanent on our bodies so it pays to have a really good quality tattoo artist – yes artist, because this is artwork – that would do things right and not cause us any infections later on. The amount paid can also be because of the size and the design of the tattoo. Complicated and intricate ones tend to be more expensive than “regular” ones. Some people that ask this probably think that we wasted our money but we will always prove them wrong with flair and badass-ery. Besides, good things don't come cheap.