Have you ever lifted your shirt to reveal your hidden back tattoo, only to be met with a dumbfounded stare? Or worse, maybe you've been met with one of the myriad of backhanded things people with tattoos in general are sick of hearing. Well, you're not alone. In many cases, tattoo shaming can be worse for people with hidden tattoos. That person may often be perceived in a positive light until they reveal their ink and have to meet head-on the preconceived notions of friends and family who initially judged them to be tattoo free. While the exposure of your hidden tattoo shouldn't be a big deal, it can be met with some pretty predictable and rather annoying backlash in certain circumstances.
While tattoos are quite common these days, and plenty of people are proponents of body art and body modifications, it seems that those who find grievance with ink speak up often and in offensive tones. People are bound to harbor their own opinions regarding tattoos, but what's genuinely intriguing and sometimes bothersome is the humans who feel the need to impose their opinions on anyone whom they discover to have hidden tattoos of their own.
If you find yourself on the opinionated side of that equation, take a moment to pause and reflect on the following list of things you need not say to your friends and family members with hidden tattoos. Likely, we've heard the commentary already, and frankly it's gotten pretty old.
1. "Tattoos are gross/improper/dirty/(insert insult here)."
Again, most people have a lot of personal opinions regarding ink. While plenty value the artwork you may have hidden in inconspicuous places on your body, others won't hesitate in the slightest to verbalize how "unsightly" or "unladylike" (if you're a female or feminine person) they find tattoos to be once they discover you've been harboring one against their knowledge.
2. "People with tattoos are weird/stupid/freaks/irresponsible."
This category of commentary is particularly out of line, and very difficult to swallow. Here, people who discover you have a hidden tattoo take the leap from respecting you to instantly questioning your judgement and filing you personally into negative stereotypes that rarely hold any truth.
3. "You don't seem like the sort of person who would have a tattoo..."
Oh, really? And why is that? And exactly what type of person am I now that I do have a tattoo? I suppose I should brace myself to be treated as any one of the categories listed in the previous statement. Too bad I haven't changed at all between revealing my hidden tat and keeping it covered. Too bad you haven't yet realized that a wide variety of people are tattoo enthusiasts, and that your preconceived notions might just be outdated and pretty limiting.
4. "Having a hidden tattoo is a cop-out."
Far less common are the tattoo enthusiasts who mock you for not having the courage to wear your ink out in the open. Unfortunately, it seems these members of the peanut gallery simply don't grasp that your tattoo is your own business, and if you've gotten it for personal reasons and wish to keep it private, that doesn't detract in any way from the value of the art. Some of us are exhibitionists with our ink. Others prefer having a secret display simply for themselves.
5. Dumbfounded Silence
Sometimes your lack of words speaks just as loudly. Pick your jaw up off the ground, stop giving that puzzled look, and let's move on, shall we?
6. "What else are you hiding?!"
While full disclosure is imperative in many relationships, there are certain scenarios (business, casual friendship, and occasionally family) that call for a level of privacy. It's important to keep in mind that if someone has chosen to hide their tattoo from you, it is not a personal attack. Nor are they a criminal mastermind, intent on keeping you out of the loop.
More than likely, they felt there was a reason not to share their ink with you (fear of your judgement, fear of a lack of respect, etc.), and if they're taking the leap to do so now, be grateful that they're including you in their inner sanctum.
7. "Your grandma/father/significant other/etc. will be mortified if they find out."
You could be right. And that's probably something the person you're confronting considered when deciding on the placement of their tattoo. And really, if grandma/dad/or my significant other can't put aside some of their judgement and remember to love their loved one, clearly there are some bigger issues at stake than a few carefully placed tattoos.
So before you shame your tattoo harboring friends and family members, remember that we're all entitled to our own personal style, and that keeping a tattoo tucked away neither makes someone a coward, nor does it make them a worthy target of negative stereotyping.
And if you've heard any number of these comments, just remember that your ink is your own, and hidden or exposed, you don't owe anyone an explanation for the way you choose to decorate your body.
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