Although there are many places people are told not to tattoo if they "ever want to get a job" — like on the face, neck, or hands — there's only one part of the body you can ink and wind up hearing a not-so-flattering nickname every time it comes up in conversation: The lower back tattoo. Whether body art is your jam or not, chances are you feel some type of way about tattoos. Some people love them and choose to embellish their entire being, some prefer a smattering of tiny tats they can hide easily, while others are so staunchly anti-ink that they won't even consider rocking a gorgeous henna tattoo or even a few super-patriotic temporary tattoos. But the world over, many people have been drawn to the lower back tatt, despite its many questionable, oftentimes infuriating, connotations.
During my senior year of college, I distinctly remember sitting around the table at a fancy-schmancy hotel for Thanksgiving dinner with my boisterous, filter-free family and my brand new boyfriend. Everything was progressing nicely, everyone was chatting about school and Christmas plans, until my father, a little schnockered on holiday booze, decided to steer the conversation to tattoos.
"You've got a tramp stamp, right Lizzy?" he bellowed across the table, much to my embarrassment. As neighboring diners turned their heads towards the commotion, I, red-faced and slowly sinking under the table, sputtered out some sort of confirmation about having a lower back tattoo, while he proceeded to roar "tramp stamp!" between fits of hysterical laughter.
Although I'd like to blame my dad's boozy exclamations on what was in his cup, versus what's in his mind, the fact remains that out of all the places to get a tattoo, the lower back tends to be considered the most provocative area of choice. All it takes is bending over once with a too-short shirt on, and everyone will quickly realize you've got one; when that happens, watch out, because the dumb comments and questions are about to start! You'll be lucky enough to hear things like:
1. "Oh, you've got a tramp stamp!"
Who are you, my father?
2. "That must mean you're easy!"
Yeah, easy on the eyes! (But, you're definitely not getting any from me with that kind of attitude anyway!)
3. "Can I touch it?"
Although I'm thrilled that you didn't just help yourself and fondle my lower back or lift up my shirt, I really don't want some stranger's grubby maws inches away from my butt crack, thanks.
4. "Only strippers and porn stars have a tattoo there."
One turn around the pole and you'll realize I'm an amateur. And side note: Shaming sex workers doesn't make you a good person.
5. "But you can't even see it back there!"
Some of my tattoos are for me to look at, and others are decorations to my temple — and my temple's backside deserves adornment too!
6. "Guys don't like girls with tattoos."
My husband would beg to differ. (But seriously, you shouldn't make decisions about your body just for the approval of other people.)
7. "That's going to look so gross when you're 80."
Listen, if I hit old age and my biggest problem is my wrinkly tattoos, I'd consider myself pretty lucky!
8. "So, what does it, like, mean?"
Maybe it has a meaning. Maybe I just like flowers and nature. Either way, I don't have to explain my body modifications to you.
9. "That's gonna look terrible when you're pregnant."
I have a feeling that the baby is going to be a bigger priority than the state of my lower back tattoo...Images: Liz Black (1); Giphy