The art of tattooing has been around for centuries. Mummies and Icemen over 5,000 years old have evidence of permanent tattoos on their body. Tattooing has been used in history from markings spies and criminals to marking a woman’s social status. When the practice of tattooing was first introduced in America, only soldiers got tattooed, and they only had eagles and flags. Heavily tattooed individuals were a part of the freak show in circuses during the 1920’s, and tattooing picked up again in the 70’s with biker gangs.

Tattooing in today’s society is totally different from its history. Multitudes of people in all shapes, sizes, and colors have tattoos. With tattoo shops all over the country and many accepting walk-ins, it has become easier than ever to get the tattoo of your dreams. However, many closed-minded people have this backward idea that tattooed people are bad people. And trust me, they are not afraid to speak their opinion.

The sad thing is that anyone with a tattoo has at least one story of how someone made him or her feel terrible for having a tattoo. After barely a year of having a tattoo, I have already received backlash. My own family referred to me as a “hoodrat” the moment I stepped foot off the table as if I was a completely different person because of the artwork now permanently placed into my skin. While standing in line at a grocery store, women have commented about how I have ruined my body and how terribly sad it was to see such a young girl turn down such a dark path. Do you think we cannot hear you? Do you think we don’t hear the judgmental remarks you make while standing in line with a carton of milk? Your comments, no matter how hurtful, show your own character more than my own. Just because you personally do not like tattoos, does not mean that you have to spread your hateful language towards me.

I fell in love with a piece of art to such an extent that I wanted to see that, every day, for the rest of my life. I do not regret my tattoos. My tattoos represent me. Stop making me cover them up. Self-expression in the form of tattoos does not give anyone the right to badmouth me. No matter what anyone else says about me, I got my tattoo for myself. I didn’t get it for my family’s approval, or for the girl in Target who felt the need to belittle me for my tattoos.

My tattoos do not represent a bad person. My tattoos represent the good in me. My tattoos are a constant reminder for what I believe in, what makes me happy, and the things I care about. My tattoos do not show that I am a bad worker, or a criminal, or just a bad person in general. My tattoos are not for you. My tattoos are for myself, and no one else.