My Tattoos Are Not An Invitation To Touch Me

If you’re a woman with tattoos, you’ve probably experienced something like what I’m about to describe: You’re standing in a café or at a bar, or in a library, minding your own business, when a stranger walks up to you and, without asking, puts their hands on you. “Wow,” they say, “What an awesome tattoo!” You flinch, step backwards and say, “Hey, thank you, but could you not touch me? I don’t know you!” ” Whoa, calm down,” they say.  “If you didn’t want people to comment on your tattoos you shouldn’t have  them.”

I don’t know why people think that they have a right to touch strangers’ tattoos. I know that people of other genders also experience this annoying scene as well, but it does seem to me that women bear the brunt of this unwanted attention. It’s not just touching; I’ve had so many strangers just comment on my tattoos as if I really need to hear what they think about them – I’ve heard positive comments such as “What a beautiful tattoo! I’ve thought of getting one, what do you think of this idea…” Okay, thank you, but again, I don’t know you!  I’ve also heard weird nagging ones like “You’d be such a pretty girl if it weren’t for those tattoos, it’s such a shame!” I’ve heard that so much, almost always from older men. And I’ve heard the downright rude comments, “Those are going to look terrible when you’re older,” or “What were you thinking?”

Something about tattoos just seems to make people think they should offer their opinions on them to every inked person they see. It’s bizarre. If they saw a woman with a haircut they thought was unflattering they wouldn’t tell her she needed to go get it cut; but they see a woman with an unflattering tattoo and suddenly it’s their business.

You don’t have to like tattoos. It’s fine if you think they look terrible, but you don’t need to share that opinion with people who do. And if you think you’re paying someone a compliment by going up to them and touching their skin without asking their permission first, it is time to re-evaluate your boundaries.

Published by

Laura Wilson

Feminist illustrator from the South of England, currently living in Cardiff, Wales.

One thought on “My Tattoos Are Not An Invitation To Touch Me”

  1. I actually got in a huge fight and lost a friend over her friend (later to be boyfriend) touching me about my tattoos….and then immediately touching me again after I told him firmly not to touch me…. She said I overreacted. Umm no your boy just doesn’t know what boundaries and respect are?

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