Jun 8, 2012

Judging Tattoos vs. Judging Tattooed People

I have dedicated much of this blog to pointing out articles and comments that I felt were prejudicial or judgmental against people with tattoos. The key word being people, not tattoos.

The reality of being tattooed is that you will meet people who don’t like your tattoos. The uglier reality is that you may also meet people who don’t like YOU because of your tattoos. Being able to distinguish between these two things is extremely important.

While browsing a Tattoo themed board on Pinterest I saw a picture of a very attractive woman with a full sleeve of tattoos. The comments were mostly positive until someone left a very simple one-word comment, “GROSS”. Soon after, another person said, “she could be beautiful”. These comments caused quite an outrage. One woman responded with the following:

Who gave anyone the right to judge? Judy or Suha why don’t you post a picture so we can comment about you?

Who gave anyone the right to judge? This image was posted on a website that allows and encourages commenting. I believe that gives everyone that views it the right to share their opinions. And isn’t it a bit hypocritical to ask someone to post their picture so that you can judge them based on it while shaming them for their own judgments?

Another response,

It is so sad that people are so rude and close-minded who are you to Say gross or that she could be beautiful? She is beautiful!!!! everyone is and in their own way but apparently some personalitys are not so beautiful…

What is truly sad is that people are not allowed to not like the photo in question. Are the negative comments really any less valid than the positive comments like, “Cutsies:)”, “Gorgeous face. Gorgeous Ink. Wow.” or “She’s hot!!!”? There is something to be said about keeping your comments to yourself if you don’t have anything nice to say, but why do we need to freak out when someone expresses an opinion that differs from our own? Aren’t we all looking at a picture and forming an opinion of it? My opinion may be that she is beautiful, but someone else may find her repulsive either because of her ink or for any one of a million other reasons.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, don’t judge a book by its cover, etc… No matter how true all of these idioms are, the fact is we are looking at a still image here. We have nothing to go on beyond that single image. No background information is given, no context, nothing but a single picture. For all we know, this woman could be beautiful on the outside while an absolutely horrible person on the inside, but random strangers who know nothing about her will run to her defense because one or two people express their dislike for her tattoos. Why are they not allowed to disagree?

Tattoos are a form of art and art is subject to critique no matter what form it comes in. Why is it acceptable to critique art when the canvas is actually made of canvas, but not when human skin is used instead? If you are going to describe your skin as a canvas and your tattoos as art, you need to be able to deal with the fact that art is a very subjective thing. When you go to an art show or a museum, do you love every singe piece of art you see? When you listen to the radio are you required to like every song that you hear. When out shopping, have you ever seen a piece of clothing or pair of shoes that repulsed you?

Every piece of art that you dislike is probably hanging proudly on someone’s wall, every song you hate is being played loudly and enjoyed by many others. And those shoes that you couldn’t help but make fun of, someone is wearing them right now and just loves the way they look.

There are dozens of websites dedicated to terrible tattoos and everyone seems perfectly content in making fun of the people with bad ink. But say one bad word about an attractive young female with tattoos and all hell breaks loose. I’m sorry, but you can’t have it both ways. An opinion is an opinion, no matter how much you may disagree with it. Differing opinions are what make the world a more interesting place.

But things begin to get ugly when we cross the line from opinion to prejudice and judgement. Saying that you think a painting is ugly is a perfectly valid opinion. But would it be acceptable for an art critic to proclaim that an artist was an unintelligent, low-class piece of trash because they didn’t like their artwork? Saying a tattoo was poorly executed, placed badly, or is just plain ugly is also a valid opinion. But attacking a person’s character based on that tattoo is no longer just an innocent opinion and crosses the line into the area of prejudice and stereotyping.

opinion

  1. A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof.
  2. A judgment based on special knowledge and given by an expert: a medical opinion.
  3. A judgment or estimation of the merit of a person or thing: has a low opinion of braggarts.
  4. The prevailing view: public opinion.

prejudice

    1. An adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts.
    2. A preconceived preference or idea.
  1. The act or state of holding unreasonable preconceived judgments or convictions.
  2. Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion.
  3. Detriment or injury caused to a person by the preconceived, unfavorable conviction of another or others.

As you can see, the strict definition of opinion and prejudice are only subtly different. A prejudice is itself an opinion, but an irrational one, decided upon without regard for actual facts. To someone who is truly prejudiced, little meaningless things like facts are hardly enough to make them change their minds.

I think we all need to keep these differences in mind when commenting or responding to comments. When commenting, try to keep your opinions civil and leave your prejudice at home. When reading comments, remember that people have the right to share their own opinions, even if they are different from your own. Feel free to challenge those comments in a rational way, but don’t attack someone just because you don’t agree with them. The world, and the internet, would be a much happier place if more people followed these simple rules.

1 Comment

  • You are awesome keep it up i wish you could talk to my english teacher. Im doing a Pursausive paper on tattoos being a good thing. your site has really helped so thank you.

Leave a comment