I was having a pretty good morning today. I got to sleep in for the first time in a while and I was looking forward to my relaxing morning before trekking on my day’s journey. Then I logged onto Facebook and saw a blog posted by someone I very much respect. The title of this blog post stood out to me for personal reasons…
I clicked on the link to a blog and I was a bit shocked at what I was reading. I didn’t believe someone could be that narrow-minded and judgmental to people (more specifically women) who have tattoos. Suspecting exaggeration and embellishment, and being the dramaturg/researcher that I am, I looked up the original article. Nope…The Hope Blog was dead on. As I sit and wrap my head around this article, I thought about the times I’ve shared my tattoos with friends and family. All my tattoos are located on my back. They all have a very special meaning to me. And for the first time (outside of limited profile on Facebook), I’m going to share my tattoos to the world wide web.
This was taken about 2 years ago after my “Faith, Hope, and Love” piece was completed (the bruise on the bottom is from roller derby). I got this piece to serve as a reminder to myself to never settle on people who treat me badly and to always have faith in myself, hope in myself, and most importantly, love myself. It took me years to get to this place of loving myself enough to take care of myself and standing up for myself and this is what this tattoo symbolizes. Moving on, the triquetra piece was my very first tattoo that my dad bought for me and I had it done in the Castro when I was 19 with my dad holding my hand. He also got a matching piece. I’m a Christian and my faith is important to me. Now that I’m distant from my dad, it is one of my most treasured pieces of ink. And finally, the heart clef represents my love for music. Music holds so many emotions and can be joyful, funny, cathartic, relaxing, and the list goes on. I have basic knowledge of playing the piano and guitar, and even in my simple skill level, I find a sanctuary sitting at my piano or playing a few chords on my guitar. For those of you who are curious, yes, I plan on getting more ink in the future, but I’m waiting for the right piece to come along.
Tattoos are personal choices. And frankly, tattoos are no one’s business but the tattoo bearer. There are some who do get inappropriate tattoos that are more public than other, but do not classify tattooed people in the same category. Yes, there are some who take ink too far. Yes, there are people who get tattoos while under the influence. Yes, there are people who regret their tattoos. But allow me to emphasize that not all tattooed people belong in the same bubble. Just like how other kinds of people don’t belong in the same bubble.
This article opens with, “I get it. It’s the 21st century. You’re cool, you’re rebellious, you’re cutting edge, you have a point to prove, and you’re a woman. Awesome.” I’m not rebellious, maybe I’m cutting edge, I have many points to prove (I suppose) and I’m indeed a woman (last time I checked). Were those the reasons why I got my tattoos? Heck no. Tattoos are more of personal choices and a process of self-expression involving several hours in a chair going through pain. There is a level of commitment involved when getting a tattoo that is stronger than physical, it is an emotional journey.
Lisa Khoury manages to put every woman with a tattoo under the category of being classless and worthless. While I can usually respect other opinions, especially those that I may disagree with, this one…I can not respect. When it comes to displaying a judgment against a large group of people without even considering their stories and backgrounds or even showing some hard data to back themselves up, you got to be a bit…um…classy? People are entitled to their opinions. Unfortunately, that opinion may be ignorant and ill-informed.
And her antidote for wanting to get a tattoo? Go to the mall, wear high heels, get a gym membership, improve your body…look pretty. Um, excuse me? Who even said one gets tattoos to improve their body? I don’t see my tattoos as an improvement, but as a representation of a chapter in my life and there to remind myself of my own values. And by the way Ms. Khoury, beauty and class are more than skin deep (pun intended). You my dear, have managed to prove the definition of irony by writing a classless and worthless piece of writing that not only reflects the ugliness within but also how much you don’t value yourself within by attempting to degrade and lower a specific group of women who have tattoos. Ms. Khoury, based on your definition of class, I qualify. I have a Master’s degree, I have a well-paying job that helps the community, I strive to take care of myself (mostly with the exception of eating out too much), etc. But I have tattoos. So therefore, by your standards, I don’t have class.
Ms. Khoury’s article also puts much emphasis on the exterior, “An elegant woman does not vandalize the temple she has been blessed with as her body. She appreciates it. She flaunts it. She’s not happy with it? She goes to the gym. She dresses it up in lavish, fun, trendy clothes, enjoying trips to the mall with her girlfriends. She accentuates her legs with high heels. She gets her nails done. She enjoys the finer things in life, all with the body she was blessed with.” So, women with tattoos are obviously unhappy with their body and a tattoo is an attempt to improve it. So what about all the fit ladies with tattoos? And also…high heels? Really? I’m clumsy in high heels and therefore I cannot wear them without breaking my ankles so that’s why I got a tattoo instead. Obviously. And enjoying the finer things in life? Of course classy and elegant ladies sit at home in the kitchen enjoying the finer things in life. Heaven forbid she goes out and tries to change the world with her sleeved arm. It is indeed sad that in the 21st century, we still cannot get past the gender stereotypes. The definition of class by Ms. Khoury’s standards are purely exterior and should only judged as that. This goes farther than women with tattoos. Based on Ms. Khoury’s definition of class, a woman who lives simply and doesn’t wear lavish clothing, doesn’t go to the mall, doesn’t constantly work to maintain her appearance is classless. If you’re too poor to pay for makeup, high heels, gym memberships, etc. I find her definition of class a rather selfish and superficial definition.
“I’m not here to say a girl should walk around flaunting her body like it’s her job – that’s just degrading.” Okay, then what were you describing before? What are your alternatives for shopping and getting your nails done? You seemed to have forgotten to mention that.
“So what’s more attractive than a girl with a nice body? I’ll tell you what: a girl with class. Looks may not last, but class does. And so do tattoos.” You know what’s more attractive than a girl with a nice body? A girl with class who is open-minded, strong, doesn’t judge, intelligent, and ready to take on the world in whatever capacity she can without attempting to degrade other people’s life choices.
Ms. Khoury also asks some questions at the end, which I shall answer:
“But at the end of the day, are you really a happier person?”
Yes. My tattoos are a part of me. Who exactly are you to tell anyone what can and cannot make them happy?
“Has this tattoo, for instance, caused you to learn something new about yourself? Has it challenged you?”
Yes. My tattoos are there as reminders of how far I’ve come and I’ve yet to be defeated.
“Has it led you to self-growth?”
“Nothing comes out of getting a tattoo. You get a tattoo, and that’s it. You do something productive, though, and you see results. That’s a genuine, satisfying change in life. Not ink.” I felt extremely empowered and productive after my tattoos were finished. I felt complete and proud. I’ve never felt anything like that after shopping with my girlfriends or getting my nails done. You just look pretty like a doll, and you spend too much money. Just a thought. And why does Ms. Khoury only recommends buying a gym membership? You can work out outside for free. I do feel proud after a workout, but comparing that feeling of pride with the feeling of pride after a completed tattoo is like comparing major surgery to a scraped knee, at least for me.
I find it funny how Ms. Khoury’s definition of elegance and class are solely based on maintaining your appearance. Nothing about volunteering at the local soup kitchen, using money to give to charities instead, nothing about helping the community and those around you. Nothing there about inner beauty. Only help yourself and make sure you look nice. And what is even more ironic is that even though painted nails, trips to the gym, shopping, etc. are temporary, they are permanent rituals that must be continued in order for maintenance. Plus, Ms. Khoury compares the female body to a car in the title of her article. All my tattooed female friends are possibly the coolest, and most giving people on this earth. They think of others first before themselves. They are strong women. They are mothers, they are aunts, they are best friends, they are sisters, they are grandmothers, they are wives, they are preachers, they are volunteers, they are daughters, they are girlfriends, they are caregivers, they are teachers, they are nurses, they are rescuers, they are today’s women. Passing judgment on a tattooed woman is just about as silly as judging a woman for not having tattoos.
But I digress. There are moments where not everyone will agree with each other. This is one of those moments, and as much as I want to feel bad for The Spectrum and Ms. Khoury because they will receive an intense backlash from the tattoo world. Actually, based on the reactions I’ve seen. The backlash has already started, and it is indeed self-inflicted. And I wonder, do any of Ms. Khoury’s friends have tattoos? Are they hidden like mine?
Wouldn’t that be the ultimate kicker…if someone near and dear to Ms. Khoury were to have a tattoo and then read her article. Food for thought.