I love tattoos. They're a unique and individualized forms of self-expression. They represent a person's interests, past, emotions, and passions without necessarily having to say them. The pain and the cost is well worth it. I myself have three: an eighth note on my right wrist, the female symbol on my right ankle, and a quote from Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra on my left arm: "make not your thoughts your prisons." My tattoos are very special to me and all possess a certain meaning.
For people who aren't inked, there comes a certain level of curiosity. Whenever I emerge from the tattoo parlor with new ink, I get bombarded with questions. Some of them are easy and even fun to answer, but others can get annoying and invasive:
1. "I love it, but what does it mean?"
I personally don't mind explaining some of the meanings behind my tattoos. I have the music note because I have always loved music. I have the female symbol because I am a feminist and I am queer. I have the Shakespeare quote because that quote in particular really helped me through my depression. While I don't mind explaining the means, try to be sensitive and compassionate if someone doesn't wish to answer. Their reasons may be very personal and possibly triggering. So don't force anyone with a tattoo to share why they got it, but if they do want to share, be open-minded.
2. "Did it hurt?"
Look, I got permanent ink embedded into my skin with a needle repeatedly that will stay on for the rest of my life. Of course it hurt.
3. "Is it real?"
No, obviously I'm taking time out of my day to draw on the same design and same words in black ink every day of my life.
4. "Tattoos are cool, but I would never get one."
Okay, good for you.
5. "How are you going to get a job with that?"
I don't know which person decided to equate tattoos and professionalism, but whoever it is, I really don't like them. My tattoos have nothing to do with my work ethic, my moral compass, or my ability to do anything. If I don't get a job, it should be because I'm not competent enough for it, not because I have tattoos.
6. "I would never date/marry someone with a lot of tattoos."
See answer to #4.
7. "It's permanent! What if you end up regretting it?"
This one always manages to get under my skin (no pun intended). For starters, I don't think I would have ink injected into my skin for the rest of my life if I wasn't ready to commit to it. Furthermore, I love tattoos because they can be a physical manifestation of who I am as a person: my hobbies, my passions, my mind, my life, etc. My tattoos mean a lot to me. Even if they don't apply to me anymore at some point in the future, they serve as a reminder of who I used to be, of a time where these things were important to me. I think all of my current tattoos and future ones will never lose their significance to me. Tattoos aren't there just to be there - they often serve an emotional or spiritual purpose.