Mar 22, 2011

Tattoos bring out the worst in people

No, I’m not talking about people with tattoos, rather people who think it’s their job to tell the world that other people shouldn’t have tattoos.

Show me a tattoo related article on a popular website that allows comments, and I’ll show you a group of very angry people who outwardly hate tattoos and want to tell the world about it. One of my recent posts showcased just a few of the comments left in response to a Washington Post article, but I continue to see this happen over and over again. It seems like every single tattoo related article I come across on the net somehow manages to get the anti-tattoo fanatics to come crawling out of the woodwork to spout their opinions. It doesn’t matter if the piece was written in favor or against tattoos, whether it was published by the BBC or the Washington Post, in 2011 or 10 years ago. The comments all tend to head in the same direction.

People see the word tattoo in the title, and think it’s their obligation to tell the world how much they hate them and all of the reasons why. Inevitably, the term “Tramp Stamp” will be thrown around, assumptions about IQ, income level, gang affiliation, education, occupation and criminal record will shortly follow. You can be sure that healthy dose of mindless name calling and holier-than-thou attitude will be thrown into the mix just for good measure. There will of course be the tattoo supporters that chime in with their own comments. Many will leave intelligently written posts, citing real world examples clearly demonstrating their counter-points. The responses from the anti-ink crowd are usually along the lines of, “well, you have a tattoo, so your [sic] just an idiot”. Their arguments are based purely out of personal opinion. Some will try to use what they like to refer to as “facts”, but are usually reluctant to cite their sources. One perfect example is the following comment, left in response to an article discussing a tattoo convention:

This is more like an idiot convention. FACT: One out of every five people with a tattoo has hepatitis C. It’s linked with amount of ink, and it is more likely if you got your tattoo at a commercial parlor. Really, they just scream “I’m a scummy person who doesn’t respect myself and doesn’t want to hold down a real job.”

Ignoring the last sentence, the so-called facts he is presenting have no basis in reality. I searched for this 1-in-5 statistic, and what I found was this statement on the official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

“Less than 1% of people that have contracted hepatitis C in the past 20 years got it from a tattoo.”

Less than 1%! Do you see a slight discrepancy between these numbers? Do not try to emphasize your nonsensical argument using “facts” that have either been pulled straight out of your ass, or misinterpreted from some study you read online. Perhaps his 1-in-5 statistic came from this study from 10 years ago.
http://www.nationalhepatitiscinstitute.org/data/transmission/tattoos.htm

“of 626 patients studied, 113, or 18 percent, had a tattoo. Of those with a tattoo, 22 percent were infected with hepatitis C. Of the 52 patients who had acquired their tattoos in commercial tattoo parlors, 33 percent had hepatitis C. In contrast, only 3.5 percent of patients with no tattoo had hepatitis C. Few of the tattoo-associated infections could be traced to injection-drug use, transfusions or other known routes of exposure.”

So, out of a sample of a total of just over 600 people, slightly more than 100 had tattoos. Out of those, 22 percent had hep-c. 600 people represent less than 0.0002% of the population of the U.S. alone. That’s two ten-thousandths of a percent. The logical conclusion would be to state as a fact that 1-in-5 people with tattoos are infected with hepatitis-c.

That last sentence was, in FACT, sarcasm, in case it went over anyone’s head. Besides the obvious lack of numbers needed for a statistically significant study, did they ever stop to consider that a group of people from the same area were likely to get their tattoos from the same shop? Maybe there are 5 tattoo shops in the area, and out of those, one does not use proper safety measures to prevent the spread of infection. His statement of “it is more likely if you got your tattoo at a commercial parlor”, could easily be a misinterpretation of the line in the study where they say getting a tattoo in a commercial shop puts you more at risk than not getting a tattoo at all. This statement does not mean that commercial shops are more dangerous than getting a tattoo in a friends basement. Try brushing up on your reading comprehension skills and pay a little more attention before throwing your facts around. Using the word FACT in capital letters does not automatically make what you are saying an actual fact. What really screams, “I’m a scummy person” to me is making up statistics in an attempt to insult an entire sub-culture of people who you really know nothing about.

I could write post after post where I rip apart the comments of these morons, but I think I need to give some love to the supporters who have chimed in with a few memorable comments. This one in particular really stuck with me.

“The only difference between tattooed people and non-tattooed people is that tattooed people don’t give a shit that you don’t have tattoos!”

I could not have said this better myself. Comments from the anti-tattoo group almost always include negative stereotypes, and sweeping generalizations. They like to make it very clear that they would never date, hire, or in extreme cases even give the time of day to someone with too many tattoos. Yet, I rarely, if ever, see the tattoo defenders trying to force their views upon others. They stand up for their own choices, but don’t look down on people who choose not to get tattoos. If you don’t like them, you don’t have to look at them, end of story.

My other favorite is this:

“It always amazes me how tattoos tell you more about the people looking at them than the people wearing them.”

This simple statement really does say a lot and is the perfect response to people who insist that tattoos are id badges for idiots. People get tattoos for so many reasons that the viewer cannot safely make any assumptions about the meaning behind them, or assume they know anything at all about the person with the tats. The only thing you can know for sure about a person with tattoos is that they likes tattoos.

Strip away the made up statistics, the old-school stereotypical thinking, the personal vendettas and what are you left with? A group of people who really have absolutely nothing to say. Yet they insist on saying it over and over again, rehashing the same old comments time and time again. If you are not capable of coming up with your own intelligent thoughts to add to the discussion, why bother saying anything at all? Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I just don’t understand getting so worked up about an issue that really doesn’t affect you in any way. Don’t you have anything better to do?

Those who choose to judge others based on outward appearance are the ones making it easy for us to pick them out of a crowd. Just because you aren’t wearing a tattoo across your forehead that reads “I am an ignorant, judgmental fool”, doesn’t mean we can’t see it written all over your face. Since the intelligent among us know that our actions are what truly define us as people and not our choice of body art, it quickly becomes obvious who the real idiots are.

18 Comments

  • Hey P, I love the comments “It always amazes me how tattoos tell you more about the people looking at them than the people wearing them.” I too agree that I couldn’t have said it better myself! And being a science geek I also loved your insight into the number of people with tattoos and hep c being “two ten-thousandths of a percent” :)
    Thanks for sharing!!

    • Thanks Sara. I’m just using common sense and logic, something that many of these commenter’s apparently lack.

  • I also used to think having a tattoo didn’t necessarily say anything about a person. I’ve become more ambivalent about tattoos in the past two years though because my sister got a large one after she acquired a group of friends that loved tattoos. Through social osmosis, I started being exposed to larger samples of tattooed people at parties and gatherings. I noticed the following: these people were as intellectually diverse as the general population, but a majority had impetuous, easily bored, and spur-of- the-moment personalities. (Reasons for getting the tattoos were also diverse).

    This is probably why such a high percentage of tattooed people regret their decision to ink: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/t/tattoos/index.html.

    Of course, this doesn’t make them bad people just like a college education doesn’t make a “morally good” person (i.e. most politicians. I won’t get specific to avoid offending people).

  • Thank you for this blog! I immediately shared it on facebook! I have tons of friends and family who absolutely hate tattoos. I am a stay at home mother of 2 boys and have 7 tattoos of my own. One of the comments in the past that I have heard about me is “Well you can tell she isn’t a good mother, just look at her tattoos!” If only they knew what the tattoo on my wrist meant…..MOTHERHOOD! Just b/c I have tattoo’s doesn’t mean I’m automatically a horrible and unfit mother. So I thank you again for this blog and can’t wait to see the nasty posts I get on facebook! :))

    • Thanks Kerri. I’m glad you found my blog. I would love to hear some of the responses you get on Facebook.

      You should take a look at this blog, http://www.sometimessweet.com/ She’s a stay at home mom with a lot of tattoos.

  • Paul,

    Great article! I love reading about people who break the tattoo stereotype! This article made my day. I too am an engineer(civil). I have a full sleeve on my right arm and a full back piece, along with a few other tattoos. A lot of the older men that i work with just do not understand why anyone would want to get any sort of tattoos and i just tell them, “You don’t understand because you don’t have any.”

  • I guess I am one of those people who just never understood the fascination with getting a tattoo. I do not have any nor want any. However, I am open-minded and I think getting a tattoo is subjective. Hey, if it makes you happy do what ever you want to your body. I can only assume that the writers of all the articles defending tattoos has some of their own. I also think there is a common misconception of folks that have tattoos. Some examples I have read somewhere else include that one person thought that dying their hair red was a similar comparison to getting a tattoo. Obviously your hair will change colors again. Also, as quoted in this writer’s article by another reader, “The only difference between tattooed people and non-tattooed people is that tattooed people don’t give a shit that you don’t have tattoos!”, is not true. Example, I have some good friends that constantly ask me why I don’t have any tattoos as they do and when am I going to get one. When I tell them its not for me, that just seems to antagonize them more and it’s become a question they ask me every time I see them now. Its almost like somehow I have become the bad guy and look down on them now just by answering a question they asked me. I guess that’s what bothers me most and has been my personal experience with friends that have tattoos. Tattoos seem to go back in time many many years, however I can remember not to many decades ago that having them seemed very rare. What I also find interesting is those that have tattoos seem to always put them in places where they can hide them easily which seems to defeat the purpose unless getting for your own sanctification, which would make more sense. I would also just like to mention, in my experience, with close friends that have tattoos, they say their reason for getting tattoos was because of something important in their lives (e.g. kids, military service, graduation, etc…). I guess my view on that is, if you have been through a life experience and you want to remember it, there are many other ways. Isn’t having a son or daughter enough reminder that your are a proud parent? These are just my thoughts and I have never judged anyone with tattoos, but do not have any myself and cannot foresee myself getting any. To be completely honest, I just find tattoos unattractive and generally unattractive period. Maybe someone will change my mind?

  • I got some tattoos on me but for me it is just a fashion that people has it think it is cool and make them happy, I am happy with my tattoos and I believed “Live life like there’s no tomorrow “.

  • Some tattoos can be rather stupid. I like them if they have a particular meaning to the one who is sporting it.
    I’m sleeved up, and each part of my arm has a deep significant meaning to me. But my favorite, the scorpion on my neck. (scorpios)

  • The issue I have is that tattoos are clearly “wants” and not “needs”, and many people buying tattoos are doing it before taking care of their needs, thus leaving that burden to society.

    Perhaps if they bought groceries instead of tattoos, we wouldn’t be taxed so dang much to pay for their food stamps?

    • Zak, your comment is a broad generalization and rather insulting to those of us with tattoos who are responsible members of society, earn a living and pay our bills before spending money on ink.

      Do you feel the same way about other things people spend money on that are “wants” and not “needs”? If so, you would have a problem with an extremely large portion of the population. Pretty much everyone I know owns a smartphone, drives a car, has a big screen TV, goes out to eat on occasion, etc… All of these things are wants, yet they are generally considered acceptable things to spend money on without being blamed for adding to burdening society. Why should tattoos be treated any differently?

  • Great article.

    I have 6 tattoos and am about to get my seventh soon. My tattoos are for me only. I like them and am not bothered if others dont. However most people i now especially the ones i work with hate them and love to express that often.

    They often say (about people who have tattoos) “why would you abuse you body like that?” – well one of these woman is morbedly obese and even after a gastric band still continues to stuff her face with junk, one smokes excessively and has the worst smokers cough and the other rolls into to work hungover all the time – and they think im abusing my body!

  • “It always amazes me how tattoos tell you more about the people looking at them than the people wearing them.”

    AMEN.

  • I think they are disgustingly ugly and that is my right to think that. All the demographics with people with tattoos are true. They are higher percentage of smokers. They are higher percentage of lower class. They are higher percentage of inmates. The truth hurts. A bunch of insecure followers, following another Hollywood trend and expecting the world not to judge. We all judge appearance, yes even you tattoo person. Please come off your high and mighty perch. On a side note; I am glad my bank finally got the circus freak they hired to cover those ugly things.

    • I’m not a smoker, not low class, not an inmate and I’m not insecure or a follower. My tattoo has absolutely nothing to do with the Hollywood trend and I don’t expect to not be judged. So for me the truth doesn’t hurt at all.

      What you see as my high and mighty perch is just a personal blog where I can tell my version of the truth about people with tattoos. This particular post was aimed directly at people like you who seem to believe the stereotypical nonsense about people with tattoos. My goal is not to get everyone to never judge another person by their appearance, but to show that people with tattoos are just like people without tattoos.

      You have every right to think that my tattoos are ugly, but if you want to pretend that you know anything about me based on the fact that I have tattoos, I am here to tell you that you are most like wrong.

  • It is truth that I see so many tattooed and pierced and gold toothed young people that spend a lot of there money on body decoration but not on there bills and children
    and i include a member of my family he has child support that hes always late with
    he lost his car for not insuring it but he has tats and gold in his face and fortunately they got his kids to someone to raise

  • In the Bible God asks his people not to get tatoos. I don’t think its a deal breaker but it does not please God. Cutting our flesh for the dead and tatoos appear to be associated with the dark arts. Deutoronomy 19 I think.

Leave a comment