Tattoo Etiquette


It is strange to think that not too many years ago people were apprehensive about approaching tattooed people. They were labelled as scary and dangerous.

With society now much more accepting, due to a change in mind set brought forth by positive representations in the media, people are appreciating the body art on people around them.

While this change is good, there are some negatives. Some people have a “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours” attitude which would be fine if I wasn’t busy working, serving customers. having a visible tattoo and working in retails means I encounter hundreds of people on a daily basis. And I see all sorts of body art; from the good, to the bad and the downright ugly.

Most customers are un-phased by my tattoo, and go about their business without making a comment. On the whole those who do comment have nothing but complimentary things to say. It’s nice that something as simple as a peony flower tattoo opens up a dialogue between two people. Art is a powerful thing.

But there is a time and place for such conversations, and me working is not the time nor the place for it. It is those select few people who occupy my mind space. On more than one occasion that I have had a customer grab my arm, pulling it towards themselves simply in order to get a closer look at my tattoo. I don’t know when invading someone’s personal space became a part of social etiquette.

Not only is it extremely rude to touch a complete stranger without asking, but to do it while they are working is unnecessary and disruptive.

Perhaps it has come time to add some social etiquette tips to accommodate the ever-growing number of people with tattoos….

Tattoo Etiquette Tip # 1 —

If you wish to admire a persons tattoo closer, use your manners and ask them politely. They’ll either say yes, and you can look without touching. Or they’ll say no and you’ll have to admire it from afar instead.

Tattoo Etiquette Tip #2 —

Just because you and the person you are talking to have tattoos, it does not mean you must show off your tattoos. A one minute conversation with a stranger does not constitute a friendship or relationship of any sorts. Generally people do not lift their shirts in public in front of someone they have just met.

Tattoos are meant to be for yourself, not something to ‘show off’ to the world to present yourself as some tough badass; because chances are you’re not tough at all.

Just appreciate tattoos for what they are – art. And just like in art museums, look but don’t touch.

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