Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

How do people react to your tattoos?

Asked by wundayatta (58581points) September 29th, 2010

When I see some people’s tattoos—say a part of one, I want to ask the person to reveal the rest of it. I never do. Especially when the rest of it leads to some intimate part of their body. Sometimes I feel like running my hands over someone’s tattoo, or maybe using other parts of my body to touch their tattoos. Sometimes I just want to look.

I will only let myself look. Occasionally I might tell someone I like their tattoo. But that’s about it. I have no tattoos of my own, so I have never experienced any reactions.

I’ll bet that tattoos on different parts of your body might get different reactions (or none at all). Can you describe your tattoo and what kind of reactions you’ve gotten to it?

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23 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Well…certain rude people who want their hands bitten off, apparently, pull my shirt down in the back so that they can see the rest of my back piece (it is usually visible on top in any shirt)...others ask to see it and I don’t always show it to them, just refer them to the painting on Alex Grey’s website. Sometimes, people notice my wrist tattoo and ask what it stands for and I get uncomfortable because I really don’t see them as people who’ll get anything I’ve got to say about my sexuality or gender identity so I just tell ‘em I like rainbows and symbols. There is my shin tattoo, people always want to see that one because if I’m not standing still, they can’t tell what it is and want to – usually they think the naked girl is pretty great. I have others but you can’t see ‘em unless I’m wearing something really revealing which never happens, these days, and when they do see ‘the fuckers’ in the little heart tattooed below my belly, they ask what it means and I tell ‘em about this group of friends I had in college and how we called ourselves ‘the fuckers’..anyway..After they see the tattoos, they ask if it hurt and I say yes and many are turned off and many aren’t. Some ask what my husband thinks about them and I ask them whether I look like someone who’d be married to a person that would or would not allow me things.

tinyfaery's avatar

Haha. I just got back from Wallgreen’s and the cashier was complementing me on my tattooed arms and that happens a lot. I agree with @Simone_De_Beauvoir that it’s rude and inappropriate when complete strangers pull down your shirt to see a tattoo. Really? What makes people think that’s ok?

Other times people seriously stare me down and even give me disapproving looks. It doesn’t happen too much in L.A., no matter what area I am in. People from all walk s of life have tattoos in this town. However, when I lived in Sac and when I travel I often get stared at and people will give me disapproving looks. I’m not sure what these people are thinking. I’m not a buttoned-up, docile female. Maybe that offends some people.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I get a couple different responses. “OMFG thats fucking awesome!!!” “Were you branded?” “Are you in the middle of getting that removed?” “How did they make that white? Ive never heard of white tattoos….”

Serevaetse's avatar

I have on on my left shoulderblade,kind of on my back of a hibiscus flower I drew, and that I got in Mexcio. I got it in Mexico because it was my first time out of the country, and my brother lives there. It was in remembrance of him since I rarely get to see him.
People tell me how pretty it is and are always surprised that I drew it.

With my ankle tattoo, it is more recent so I haven’t gotten too many reactions. But it is of a feather I drew with my brothers name next to it. He died in San Fransisco, so I went there and got the tattoo, also in remembrance of him. People who have seen it like it and what it stands for a lot.

So I have gotten only positive feedback, which makes me happy.
People will sometimes rub their hand over it, which I don’t care but when they are fresh, it hurts. So be careful about doing that.
and if I know the person somewhat, I wouldn’t mind them pulling my shirt down to see it, which they sometimes do. But I have never had a complete stranger do so, and I don’t think I would like it if they did.

Seek's avatar

I don’t have any, but my husband has a habit of scaring little old ladies at amusement parks. Mostly because he’s so laid back, polite and soft-spoken, then turns around, takes off his shirt to go down the water slide, and they get this

Younger people tend to give him a “woah, that’s awesome”, but he doesn’t have a habit of showing them off unless someone else mentions it first and they ask.

(@uberbatman, I was totally intrigued by your white tattoo. I’ve been thinking about getting the White Tree of Gondor on me, but I couldn’t possibly get a black White Tree of Gondor, like I see other people do. But if I can get it in white ink… that would be killer.)

bippee's avatar

I think I’ve received the most disapproving remarks/ glances from people based upon my most recent tattoo. It is a dancing skeleton holding a lit cagarette in one hand and a martini glass in the other. It is heavily outlined so it is really an in your face piece and it is on my outer calf. I wear a lot of skirts so it is visible. Here is is http://www.flickr.com/photos/patflinschrod/4901419984/

I think tattoos are meant to be seen so I show them. I work in NYC and take public transportation, so lots of people see me and my tattoos. The skelly tat throws people I think because I have a corporate job and dress like a businesswoman and then they see the tat and are confused. The other day on a packed train going home I was standing face to face with this 50 something banker type. He saw my tat, and then looked up at me and was not sure. He looked at the skelly again and back at me. I felt as if he wanted to ask me about it, but I wasn’t in the mood so I stared back at him with a blank look and listened to my ipod.

More men ask me about my tats than women. I have one higher up on my thigh so it will just peak out a bit when I’m sitting showing a pair of dice. I am often asked what the tattoo is of and I show it. That one is a Royal flush with snake eyes across the bottom. The top say Life’s A Gamble and under the dice it says You Might Lose.

No one ever pulled my shirt down to see the one on my back and I would haul off and punch anyone who did! No one asked to touch it except for a close friend.

I have one on my wrist which many have commented on. When I reach to get my change, I’ve had a few cashiers say, “Why would you do that to yourself!” and it really wasn’t a question so much as an admonishment. I expect no all to approve of my decisions, but my body; my choice. I love every one of my tattoos.

Brian1946's avatar

I saw an attractive young woman with some extensive body art come over and stand next to me. I thought about saying something like, “Hey, nice tats. Are you going out with Jesse James?”.

However, I didn’t say anything because I’m not going make fun of someone just so I can see myself as some bargain basement Letterman.

Randy's avatar

Mine get commented on frequently but no one ever touches me, which is good because I’d be pissed. I don’t mind people looking at all and if they ask, I’m more than happy to show off my artists work. But DON’T touch me unless you want my fist inside your eyeball. Of course that only applies to strangers.

The usual comments and questions include:
“Nice tattoos/tats/ink.”
“You have some good work.”
“I like your (certain tattoo).”
“What’s the rest of that on your upper arm?”
“Did that hurt?”
“How much money have you spent on tattoos?”
“What else do you have?”
“Do you regret doing that?”
And the one I HATE the most… “How much would it cost if I wanted to get _______?”

I HATE that question because usually they want some bull shit tattoo that I think is retarded and on top of that, I’m no artist and mine hooks me up with some sweet deals so I have no clue. I usually stop them mid-sentence and refer them to my artist.

Most of the feedback I get is positive. I figure most people who don’t say anything just aren’t interested/don’t care or they’re worried about offending me. The few that have negatively commented usually get a response that goes something like “I like them and they’re not to impress you”. That’s usually a conversation ender and we both walk away feeling as though we both made our point even though neither of us did.

FutureMemory's avatar

@bippee Social Distortion fan, eh?

bippee's avatar

@future
you have no idea how obsessed i am. well maybe u do based on my tats. i love mike ness!

FutureMemory's avatar

@bippee Have you seen Another State of Mind? It’s a good documentary of their first US tour back in ‘82. For anyone interested in what real punk rock was about, this film is an excellent primer.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Mine is covered most of the time, it’s on my butt. When wearing a bathing suit then so far no one’s asked about it which is okay with me. The only time I was self conscious was when I went sailing with my bf and his folks and knew they were looking at it but not asking.

InkyAnn's avatar

im guna say now that i didnt read everyones response, but peronally i like people asking about mine or to see more of them if only part of it is shown, i have no problem with them being touched, ive even been asked if i would let someone i didnt know lick mine, a few times, i said “if you really want to sure” (im an open person) i have a full chest piece, two full sleeves, and and two full thigh pieces. all of which have a very deep meaning, some to me and some that people can relate to. i think that if your going to get ink in a place that can possibly be seen in ANY WAY to someone elses eyes its going to draw attention and some “unwanted” touches, be it some one lifting your shirt sleeve, pulling down the back of your shirt a lil or what not. so dont get pissy when it happens. tattoos are becoming more expectable now days but still and attraction of intrest to most. and theres still people out there that dont know personal boundries. just deal with it, smile and continue on your way.

tinyfaery's avatar

Bullshit. No one has the right to touch you without your consent. Next thing you’ll say is scantily clad women deserved to be raped. :/

InkyAnn's avatar

no i wouldnt say that, and again befor panties get put in a twist lets keep in mind that this is all individual personal opinion, i personally grew up with an alcoholic father and practically grew up in bars and around drunks… drunks invade your personal bubble alot, and most of the time dont mean any harm by it… so again this is natural for me…not touching as in grabbiong my tits or ass, but poking at my ink or running a finger over it in “aw”. if it really bothers you that much then idk what to tell you… people are going to want to touch a tattoo, some can hold back some cant… its something you should take into consideration the aspect of “it will draw attention” doesnt mean only with the eyes. dont want to risk ever getting touch with out your permission (when it comes to tattoos that is)then dont get it where someone can see, cuz eventually its going to happen weather you want it to or not.

tinyfaery's avatar

People can’t hold back? Sigh. Done.

InkyAnn's avatar

look before everyone gets the wrong impression of me all im saying is that yes its wrong to touch people in anyway. but when its something other then touching them “personally” in inappropriate places,(hence a poke to your arm fallowed by a “what that tattoo mean?” isnt really something to get worked up about. through out your entire life span something like that is going to happen at the very least once. you cant control peoples actions so dont let it get to you and move on.

Randy's avatar

Invading personal space without permission is an act of aggression. It’s hardwired into our brains. That’s why you often see people with their faces inches apart when they argue or when someone reaches and grabs the arm of someone leaving. It’s a way to appear more powerful during nervous or troublesome situations.

If all of the tattooed population are small museums of art, then I am a private showing. I didn’t get my art for anyone but myself. It belongs to me. I wouldn’t let someone touch my sandwich because they were curious about what kind it is so you can be certain that I don’t want them touching my skin, without permission. I don’t mind curious folks asking about my art and experiences. I’ll gladly share to someone willing to ask but I’m not at all comfortable with strangers touching me or trying to move my clothing around to get a better peek.

Now, I’ve never had to deal with any touchers. Although I don’t agree, I’ve been told that I look “scary” and “threatening” so that could have something to do with it. Lots of folks are frightened by long beards and visible tattoos together. But, if I ever do encounter one, I will gladly let them know that I don’t approve of their behavior. I mean, I don’t go around grabbing the tits of women who get breast augmentations even though they’re visible most of the time. But, don’t get me wrong, I love tits and it would be nice to go around grabbing at the ones people had augmented. It’s just not acceptable though. You have to respect peoples personal space, even if they did get a visible body modification. A visible body mod doesn’t mean that they become public property to be groped or even poked at.

If you like it, that’s fine. That has no effect on me. It doesn’t come with the territory though. People shouldn’t be touching without permission under any circumstance. If they have the courage to ask me if they can see or touch them, then you bet! I’ll converse and show off as much as they want. Don’t expect to invade my space and not eat some teeth for it, though.

FutureMemory's avatar

@Randy Very well said.

bippee's avatar

@FutureMemory Oh, yes. I own it on dvd. Loved when they are pushing the bus through DC. I will PM you

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Inked_up_chic If you’re okay with others touching you for the reasons you stated, that’s fine – but don’t think that all of us should ‘relax some’ or whatever because we have different standards.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Inked_up_chic I dont care if its sexual or not, if i dont know you, dont fucking touch me period.

wundayatta's avatar

Yes, people. I’m interested in personal stories, not what you think other people should do. @Inked_up_chic Your story was fine up until the last sentence. I don’t believe you meant that last sentence to be an admonition to others. I thought you were talking about how you see it. But the way you said it allowed @tinyfaery to get quite emphatic in stating her opinion.

It’s interesting, because it sounds like there’s some similarity in your backgrounds, but you each took different lessons away from early experience.

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