The Painted Lady – Women with Tattoos
So … on Friday I’ll be being auctioned off!
I’m not gonna lie, I’m bricking it. It’s all part of a Charity Auction – attendees will be bidding for dates with four girls and four guys. I’ll tell you more later in the week, but over the weekend I was asked to fill in a questionnaire about myself.
One of the questions made me pause – do you have any tattoos?
The simple answer is Yes!
I have five small tattoos. Three on my back, and one inside each wrist. Each has a purpose and a meaning behind it. With the exception of one which is a Mandarin character, each one was hand-designed by me, so I know no one else in the world has the same tattoo.
But despite the personal meanings of the tattoos, I’m not sure how much they tell you about my personality …
Tattoos are commonplace these days. What was once seen as non-conformity is omnipresent. At most, I’d say that my tattoos show I have an adventurous streak, but that’s probably more down to the actual tattoos themselves, than the fact I have them. On the inside of my left wrist, I have the phrase ‘Carpe Diem’, on the inside of my right wrist, the Chinese character for ‘Fire’.
Despite how everyday tattoos have become, and how small they all are (most of mine are not much bigger than a £2 coin), I’ve still faced some strange reactions to them over the years.
I guess part of that is due to the fact people don’t necessarily expect me to have tattoos. I’ve got a posh voice, I’m Cambridge-educated, and I was always a bit of a goody goody growing up! I’ve never had a cigarette, I never really drank much until I’d left uni, I was a Brownie and Scout leader for fifteen years, and I have my Queen’s Guide, Queen’s Scout and Duke of Edinburgh gold award. Put simply, I was a bit of a geek! But I’m a geek with a free spirit!
One of my funniest memories related to the tattoos was at the end of my fourth year at uni. I studied Law, and we had a final Law Dinner before graduation. I was wearing a low back dress, and it was obviously the first time my Director of Studies (a woman in her late forties, who had worked in academia all her life) had seen my tattoos. She reached over and drunkenly stroked them, asking me if they were real! I giggled – no, I’d gone to the trouble of applying temporary tattoos for a Cambridge Law Society Dinner??!!
I don’t know why I got my tattoos – well I know what each represents. I just don’t know the underlying reason. To some degree, after I was orphaned, there was possibly an element of control. Of being able to make a decision about my body and my life. Of taking control of something. But I had my first tattoo before either of my parents died – on my 18th birthday. I guess I just thought they were pretty! My first tattoo is where I had a birthmark as a baby. I wanted to celebrate becoming an adult. Four friends came with me to watch it being done, and when I came home, while my Mum refused to look at it, my Dad thought it was really cool and basically encouraged me to have another, telling me to get the date tattooed beside it (my 18th birthday)!
I love the two tattoos I can see every day. I’ve had them for over five years, and never regretted them – even though they can be seen easily, depending on what I’m wearing. Often, because I see them all the time (on my wrists), I forget they’re even there. It often surprises me when people draw attention to them.
When I came back from living in Canada three years ago, I got a part-time job at the weekend hostessing at a relatively swanky restaurant in the centre of Reading. At the end of my second interview and trial shift (unpaid!), the manager took me to one side, said I was great, and just what they needed in a greeter, but that I would need to remove my tongue bar before every shift (I had a subtle stud in my tongue), and wear a bracelet and watch to cover the small tattoos on my wrist. Despite my posh accent, decent upbringing, and Oxbridge education, the restaurant manager was worried I would open my mouth to speak, extend my wrist to greet a guest, and they would change their dinner or lunch plans because of my appearance. Needless to say, I quit after one shift!
I no longer have a tongue bar – not for any other reason than it damaged my gums. And I’ve never had any issues with my appearance in a far better-paid and more professional banking job! But I do find it astonishing that people would judge someone so much for piercings and tattoos in 2014.
Going back to the date auction, I’ve never found tattoos or piercings a deal breaker. I would just as happily date a guy with no tattoos, as one with a full sleeve. I’m not the biggest fan of tattoos on men’s arms, but it would never be something which determined whether I liked a guy or not. That is determined by his personality and other aspects of his looks and physicality. Unless the tattoo is on his face, or of something hugely offensive, I wouldn’t even factor it in!
I guess to some degree having a tattoo tells you something about someone’s personality – but I know hundreds of people with tattoos, and couldn’t put a finger on personality traits they all share. I remember getting into bed with a guy once who I’d been working with – a really conservative guy, super straight laced. It was dark, and I was pretty drunk (!) and I remember noticing he had a birthmark on his arm. It was only the next day, as the sun came up, that I realised he had a huge tattoo! I’d worked with him for two years and would have never in a million years expected him to have a tattoo!
I answered the date auction questionnaire honestly. If someone is going to judge me for three tattoos he can’t even see, and two on my wrists that people barely notice, then he’s not the man for me! Hopefully anyone judging me would do so on my personality first and foremost. And if he finds the rest of me attractive, and the revelation that I’ve coloured in a couple of sections of my body is that much of a deal-breaker, then again, he’s not the man for me!
Interestingly though – there is a complete flipside …
I know a girl who is literally covered in tattoos. As in, there is barely space on her body for any more. She has them on her upper chest, her neck and throat, her palms, the skin beside her ears ….
With her, and I know she’ll admit this, it is a sense of body ownership. She lost an incredible amount of weight, and one of the ways she has dealt with assuming a new skin has been to completely take ownership of it.
Whilst I’m sure she gets a fair amount of snobbery, and shocked reactions, every time I’ve been out with her – whether in a bar or at a festival – men can’t get enough of her! As in literally droves of them! I guess in the same way that some men would react and see my tiny tattoos as a complete turn off, some men view body art as the complete opposite.
Each to his own.
As I say a lot on this blog – we just need to people live and let live. And if something doesn’t affect you, then why judge?
Do a few tattoos really matter that much in the scheme of things? Wouldn’t you rather judge someone on his or her personality, and the way he or she treats you? I know we all judge people on their looks – it’s human nature, and most of the current dating industry revolves around it – but rather than looking at someone as a neat list of check boxes, and rejecting them because of a patch of coloured skin, why not base your decision simply on whether their face, body and most importantly person, is one that you’d like to wake up next to for years to come?
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx
Brilliant post/words/topic. One I think can go on and on..
I think the common perception, many moons ago, of people with tattoo’s was ‘thugs’. But in more recent times they’ve become more an ‘accessory’. Especially with celebrities and people in the public eye and children/young people ‘wanting to be them’, tattoo’s and all.
I know my own thoughts and opinions on tattoo’s themselves and people with them vastly changed when I realised I knew people with them! And then, when enquiring and getting my own done, that, not all people with them are ‘bad’. ha!
It’s very much a form of Art.
I think, however, we seem to be a world of ‘labels’ and this will always be the case.
Thanks for the comment Caroline 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post! I think one thing that’s interesting is that as someone with tattoos, I often forget I have them – in the same way you don’t realise your friends have them, or forget that your friends have them!
Cheers for taking the time to read and comment
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx
There are all different kinds of tattooed people, and I’m more the kind with a few tattoos that are meaningful to me and not the kind with epic amounts of pictures on their body.
Either way, I think women with ink are beautiful. It displays a lot of confidence, an appreciation of art and the body as canvas, and more. It is more mainstream than it used to be, but I think that just means more beautiful women out there. But of course I should judge the individual not the outer shell…
Care to share any pics of the art on your body…?
If you don’t mind, may I plug my blogs on the subject of tattoos 😉
Sorry – no pics of my tattoos – I share enough of my life on here, gotta keep a few things up my sleeve! (literally!!) xx
When I first became an IT manager, I remember the meetings we’d have about dress code; explaining to the older managers that people can’t just take gauges out of their ears during work, disagreements about the sexism of allowing women to wear capris on 100 degree days, while forcing men to always wear pants. I remember how hard we fought, just to wear sandals without nylons. And I remember the whining about how unprofessional it looked to have deskside support guys with full sleeves, or any tats peeping from under his shirt.
Is it any wonder I desperately never want to go back?
My thing was hair. I love having odd-colored highlights (purple, blue, etc.), and spent years lobbying to dye my hair pink for Halloween (for my self-made Tonks costume), but was turned down every time. No non-natural hair colors. Not even for a few days while temporary color washed out. No exceptions. Professionals do NOT have pink hair.
I’ve had too many friends who were fond of ink and piercings – my own sister included – to ever make assumptions about people who have either. I don’t really get the inclination, but I have a deathly aversion to any non-medically necessary needle touching my skin. So I don’t get the appeal of getting tattoos, but I can certainly appreciate an otherwise interesting or attractive guy, with some nice artwork on his body. As long as he never gives me any grief over my lack of it.