Recently, I found myself defending my body illustrations to a group of boys who stood around me and condescendingly asked, "What are you gonna do when you're an old lady?" "I'll be an old lady with tattoos. I'll be retired. I won't do anything." In the past, I have had strange men grab my forearm, twist it around and question why I've had this tattoo and what it means. "Why did you have a broken heart? Is it because your heart was broken?" Yes, obviously. But actually the tattoo is not an accurate depiction. The tattoo is in half, in reality my heart was in pieces. Even if I decided to have it removed, the ink may be gone but the memory would remain. My decision to commemorate a very difficult time of my life by injecting indelible ink into my arm (I quite literally wear my heart on my sleeve) is just that - mine. For me, it is a reminder that you can move on and recover. But for a lot of other people it is an excuse to be insensitive, condescending or judgmental.
The main difference between me and these men is that I love tattoos and they don't. I think David Beckham looks like a work of art, they think he looks like a thug. I love Megan Fox's gothic poems and they probably think they're self-indulgent. And I love mine. I love the arabic writing I have for my family (my family are arabic before you play the language card) and I love the little umbrella that my best friend also has tattooed on her. And if I were to ever get married, I'd probably tattoo the guys name on me as well. (When people say that's a risky idea, I think that sounds like signing a prenup for your skin.) Tattoo's are entirely subjective. What I find beautiful, you may not and vice versa. And that's fine.
I don't regret a single one of them and I highly doubt I will. What I do regret is having to answer rude, judgemental questions just because people can see them. In the same way, I don't walk up to certain gentlemen with insane hairdo's (that my brother-in-law once accurately described as "exciting") and say,"You're going to regret wearing your hair in that inexplicable fashion in the future", you shouldn't say the same to me about my tattoos.
Or maybe next time, I'll just wear a jacket.