If I had a dollar for every time some dudebro asked for pictures of my tattoos, I would have a lot of dollars (I don’t know how many, math is hard). This, all the time:
Dude: How many tattoos do you have?
Dude: Nice! Can I see some pics of them?
Listen, I get that tattoos are a talking point, and I’m open to discussion. I wouldn’t have them if I didn’t like them. However, asking for random pics of body parts is a bit icky. Replace tattoos with triceps, isn’t that weird as fuck (and also a brilliant idea that I may use as a response from now on)?
Mind you, there are some pictures of my ink floating around out there. Usually the artist grabs a picture when it’s done, and sometimes I share them on the Book of Faces. After doing a lovely traditional swallow on my ribcage, my friend/artist asked if we could take a shot in the front of the shop where the lighting is better (the same shop I once worked in). I was standing there, holding my boob à la Janet Jackson, and in walked a delivery man. Neither my friend nor I thought it was a big deal (oh no, boobs!), but I have never seen a more awkward UPS guy in my life.
Also, before I left to teach English in Asia, my stepmom thought it prudent to take pictures of my identifying markings. You know, in case I ended up missing or in pieces (see parents, tattoos are good for something!). I just don’t see the need to have albums of them on various and sundry dating sites.
In addition to weird photo requests, my tattoos seem to make people very handsy. Strangers at work (cough a big tech company cough) grab my arms to read what they say, every Korean kid I ever taught tried to rub them off, and the awful date that started this whole thing pushed back my hair to see what was behind my ear. No no no no no no no. They are not fucking braille.
The worst offenders are usually guys with no tattoos who take it to a weird fetish place: ‘I find tattoos so sexy on a woman.’ Yeah, that’s exactly why I get them. Do you have any? ‘No, I would never get any, I just love them on others.’ Cool story, bro. ‘Do you have any naughty ones?’ Vomit. Seriously, the word naughty is never sexy, and the whole conversation makes me think you’re covered in a thin coat of slime. I could go on for days about fetishization of women’s bodies, but between nightmares about anti-vaxxers and political shenanigans, I’ve had my fill of internet-induced rage for the week. Instead, I’ll keep it simple: Yes, you can compliment someone on their tattoos. Just don’t be a fucking creep about it.
And for the record, yes it hurts. Stop asking.