Ever heard the saying “tattoos are a great conversation starter, which is why I deeply
regret getting any”? This can be very true for some. In my experience, it is very common to
receive unwanted attention because of the body modifications I have. This could be because of my tattoos, piercings and sometimes coloured hair. Compared to my friends, I would be considered quite conservative so I can’t imagine how many stares they get.
I knew what I was getting myself into when I started getting piercings and tattoos, and I
knew I’d draw more attention to myself the more I got. And for the most part I am okay
with that. I know it’s just people’s curiosity. I don’t mind the stares, I don’t mind the
questions – although some of them can be quite inappropriate.
What I do mind is the touching. This began ever since I started getting tattooed. And also while I was pregnant.
At no point is it ever to touch someone without asking their consent first. My pregnancy and tattoos are not a pass to touch me, even if it is the topic of conversation.
I’ll be honest, I have social anxiety. And when I am in the shops, I am focused on grabbing
what I need and leaving. If I am in the right frame of mind, I’m happy to talk to a stranger
about my tattoos and piercings. But otherwise I’m trying to find the quickest way to exit that
conversation as soon as possible.
I’ve had people grab my arms to get a better look at my tattoos, stick their fingers in my lobes and ask if it hurts, make all kinds of comments like “ew, I could never get that, I don’t know how you do it! It’s so not for me”. I’ve even had family members telling me that my babies will not be getting tattoos like their mum when they’re older because it looks bad. What the fuck? So unnecessary. By the way, my children are welcome to do whatever they’d like, as long as they are of consenting age, they aren’t harming anyone and what they’re doing makes them feel beautiful.
So why do I continue to modify myself when I dislike the unwanted attention? Well, the more I modify myself, the more ‘myself’ I feel. When I see myself in the mirror, I don’t feel like I see who I am, I see the process. Call it bad body image, call it an identity crisis. I don’t care, it’s the truth. I’m not close to being done modifying myself and I’m excited for all to come. Who doesn’t want to experiment with all different types of haircuts, colours and styles? Trying gold jewellery, titanium and niobium means I get to try all different aesthetics. It’s fun! You’ve got one life to live and I don’t want to die wishing I had the guts to shave my eyebrows off if that’s what I wanted to do. But the more I modify, the more entitled others feel the need to comment. Family members asking “Are you ever going to stop?”
God, even being pregnant, everyone thought it was a pass to rub my belly. Complete
strangers in the parking lot, coffee shop, doctors’ waiting rooms. Excuse me, what? When did this become okay? To make comments on people's appearances such as “wow, you’ve
gotten HUGE”. Before I got pregnant, I had weight loss surgery and ended up losing half my
body weight. The comments I received after the weight loss would totally floor you:
“Aww, you’re so skinny now, not like before.”
“Maybe your husband will love you more now!”
“You always had a pretty face, now the body matches!”
So many backhanded compliments. Water off a duck’s back, baby. Body mods heal best on thick skin.
I do really appreciate the genuine comments on my body mods because they are all things
I’ve chosen. They are how I’ve chosen to do my makeup, style my hair, what jewellery I wore and what tattoos I picked.
I don’t get body modifications for the validations of others, I do it for my own validation and because of this, the comments of others fall on deaf ears. But what I don’t understand is –
why tattoos, piercings and coloured hair are seen as so radical when there are way more
people with those than people who have lip fillers, Botox, cosmetic tattooing, cosmetic
surgery, laser hair removal etc when those are body modifications too? Is it because it’s
more in line with mainstream beauty? Probably. If you think about it, piercings, tattoos and coloured hair are on the same level as other body modifications as things like lip fillers, Botox, cosmetic surgery, etc. Yet those body modifications are seen as less radical and are more accepted in society. But whatever changes you make to yourself, if it makes you feel beautiful, who fucking cares.
And if you’re the person making these comments, be kind. The words you say may be nice but is the meaning and intent behind those words kind?