1. Give extremely elaborate explanations about their basic tattoos.
One time I listened to a coworker tell the story behind the large tattoo on his shoulder, that looked like a fleur-de-lis made out of porcelain that had been shattered into a hundred tiny pieces, which was an homage to his family’s home that had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. And I could have listened to that incredible story forever and ever.
But I’ve also heard people go on and on about the deep personal meaning behind the tattoo of the infinity symbol on their hipbone (~*~what goes around comes around~*~), or the All Time Low lyric on their pinky. And like, I’m glad that is a big part of your life, but talking about that is kind of like talking about a dream. Unless it’s a really, really sweet story, it’s probably only interesting for you.
2. Talk about how they’re being ‘discriminated against’ for jobs because of their tattoos.
First off, it’s beyond bananas to refer to anything that you chose to do yourself as “discrimination” on anywhere near the same level as race/sex/orientation, which is something I’ve seen people do on many occasions. But even if you recognize that it is in no way the same kind of discrimination, it’s still a stretch to fault an employer for making that call. Everyone should be able to decide what image their business is going to give off, and if that image doesn’t include a bunch of brightly-colored neck tattoos, I honestly don’t think that’s outrageous. Any time you modify your body, you accept that someone else might not like it. And that might include the hiring manager at Starbucks.
3. Get really snotty about the hierarchy of tattoo artists.
I don’t have any tattoos, so this doesn’t even concern me, but it still seems so obnoxious. Like, appreciating the talent and work of a really elite artist is totally understandable, and I don’t think they shouldn’t be happy about that. But that also doesn’t mean you should shit on someone who just got a thing on a whim on a trip to Berlin or whatever, if they enjoy it (and aren’t obnoxious about it, of course). Fetishizing the “objective quality” of some ink that people have to live their entire life with, and is obviously super personal (again, like a dream!), is just pretentious.
4. Complain about people asking them what their visible, weird tattoo means.
Look, in a perfect world, we would all leave one another alone at all times unless we expressly asked for attention and defined the terms of what that attention would be. But we live in the real world, and in the real world, when you willingly put some giant random symbol or picture on your skin for the whole world to see, people are going to ask you about it.
And let’s be honest, you knew that when you got it, and it was probably at least a little bit of the appeal, because it immediately marks you as #different, #unique, #deep, and #artistic. I get it. And that’s awesome, go for it! Get all of that tattoo-based attention. But don’t turn around and complain that people won’t stop asking about the purple broadswords you have tattooed on your hands.
5. Shitting on tattoo newbs.
Just because you have some enormous sleeve dedicated to impeccable renderings of snakes/comic book characters/pinup girls does not mean the sorority girl’s tattoo of a crown is not good enough. Just because someone isn’t going full-on “tattoo guy” in their choice to get some ink, does not mean you get to view them as less than you. Some people choose to get a couple light things that can easily be covered up, and honestly, good for them. We’re not in middle school, it doesn’t have to be a competition for who can be most hardXcore.
6. Thinking that it makes you somehow more unique than someone who doesn’t have tattoos.
We’ve all met “pretentious tattoo person” who acts like you are some kind of ’50s suburban housewife because you’ve chosen not to put permanent marks on your body. They act like it’s some express pass at Six Flags for the “creative, original person” ride, or that it makes them any more out-of-the-box than someone else. First off, some of the most subversive people in history looked and presented themselves like total squares. And second, being a unique and original person is something that comes from your personality, not the things you pay for someone to put on your body. We all know incredibly boring people who are covered with tattoos, and super unique people who don’t even have a single piercing.
Let’s just all accept that body modifications don’t make you any more or less who you are, they’re just a thing on your body (a thing that, yes, some people might not want to hire for a job — but the same is true of the way we dress ourselves, it’s just a fact of life). If you want to get a tattoo, go nuts, but don’t think that it makes you special. It just makes you a person with a tattoo.