Stick And Poke Tattoos Have Inspired My 7 Favorite Backhanded Compliments Because #HumanProblems

As a person with tattoos, I know firsthand what it's like to get constant stares and compliments about the ink on my body, and that includes my stick and poke tattoos. There is no personal choice of mine that is visible enough to attract as much attention as my tattoos. Whether it be family, friends, or total strangers, most people I encounter are endlessly fascinated by this part of me. So much so that they feel the need to comment.

The occasional genuine compliment from a friend or fellow tattooed person is welcome and appreciated — I'm just as excited about my tattoos as they are! Beautiful tattoos catch my eye too, for their beauty and for the inspiration for future tattoos. I sometimes ask people where they got their ink done if it's particularly good, so I can stalk their artist on Instagram.

However, it is not always appropriate to comment on someone's ink (especially when you're coming from a place of ignorance or judgment). For some reason, it seems that there's something about tattoos that makes people feel that it's OK to point them out, ask incessant questions about them, and sometimes even touch them. By moving through a public space, it is as if I give up ownership of my body and my skin, as people feel free to question, poke, and prod my ink-covered arms.

One of the most annoying cases of this are the infamous backhanded compliments about tattoos. I've found this to be especially the case with my stick and poke tattoos. Forever the center of attention due to their unconventional and DIY quality, my stick and pokes attract the most questions, criticism, and compliments. Since people are more familiar with professionally-done tattoos, the backhanded compliments I receive about my stick and pokes are extra uninformed and infuriating. Here are some of the zingers:

1. "Wow, that actually looks professional!"

Gosh, thanks! Your implication that stick and pokes are somehow inferior to professionally-done tattoos irritates me! My stick and pokes are each unique, and not only do they look vastly different from each other, but they're vastly different from the pricier ink on my body. Which is the point. I like that quality about them. Don't tell me they look like the rest.

2. "Yeah, it's definitely got that DIY aesthetic going on."

There is nothing wrong with a DIY aesthetic, hence the reason why I got these tattoos in the first place. But based on a lot of people's perceptions of DIY culture, and the inflection in your voice, it feels a little bit like you're talking down to my stick and pokes. Please don't.

3. "Did you do that yourself? It looks like you did it yourself."

If you've seen or been subject to my extremely poor drawing and art capabilities, you would realize your mistake in making this compliment. I had an artist-friend do it so it would look nice, not so it would like something I drew. Trust me, you wouldn't wanna see that.

4. "Wow! The ink is still pretty bold/in tact."

Stick and poke ink does not fade as fast as you may think. Of course the ink is still in tact. A skilled human gave me this tattoo, not just any old person who's picking up a tattoo needle for the first time.

5. "It looks like it hurt."

This is a really weird one I've heard time and time again. People honestly think it's an enormous compliment to acknowledge the fact that a piece of ink looks like it hurt like a bitch to get done.

First of all, it didn't actually hurt all that much, and you clearly don't know much about my pain tolerance to say something like that (hint: the other six tattoos on my body).

Secondly, if it looks like it hurt, that sounds to me like my tattoo looks swollen, irritated, or infected. Especially when it comes to stick and pokes, I'm very paranoid about infection. So please don't tell me my tattoo looks infected!

6. "That's really cute for a stick and poke!"

If anything, stick and pokes are even cuter than professional tattoos. It's cute because it's cute! Not because I seem to be getting away with or successfully pulling off something that's not already cool or adorable to begin with. This also feels like a condescending nod to my artists' hard work. Don't belittle my friends' skills!

7. "It's like the perfect size to cover up."

Why are you assuming I'd ever want to cover this up? I love my stick and pokes. I didn't get these done while drunk off my ass, and I don't regret them. They're beautiful pieces of art that I've lovingly chosen to place on my body.

If anything, I'd much rather cover up one of my smaller professional tattoos, which was drawn and shaded very poorly. Don't assume just because it's a stick and poke that it's riddled with flaws and imperfections. They're certainly not flawless, but they're done with love and by the hand of my friends. How could I cover something like that?

Images: jeffersoncourtyard, raebecray, yadvkrovi, theravenvalkyrie, trigscovil, hannahrodriiiguez, respect_love_and_lotalty, jubiejay/Instagram