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Big Ink: On Getting A Half Sleeve

Big Ink: On Getting A Half Sleeve

I've written a few times about getting tattoos, and it's a topic that I will repeatedly revisit as they, literally, become a bigger part of me. When you commit to that much pain and that much money for something you will carry your whole life, for something people will see and judge you on, you have take tattoos as at least a small part of your identity.

I've never been one to strongly identify with something. I see myself as having my passions and many aspects of myself, so I've never decided to pick one thing as my primary identifier. From the outside, perhaps I do appear to have one defining trait, but from my perspective, I've got a whole world of identifiers. I guess one of those is now 'tattooed woman'.

The world sees tattooed women is a strange light, the kind of weirdly harsh light that I feel bisexuals also get for no reason - promiscuity, untrustworthiness, attention seeking. Being both quite tattooed and bisexual is going to be a bit of a double whammy of people misjudging my character.

Not to say everyone does, but there are still a lot of negative associations with tattoos that live on. The hilarious absurdity of those 'tattoos make you the devil's plaything' groups on Facebook would make me laugh more if I didn't know so many people believed it. I've thought about those reasons for not getting a tattoo and quite frankly, they will never stop me. Those perceptions have no bearing on my decision because I think they're stupid and anyone who would treat me worse for having ink is not someone I want in my life.

One reason that holds weight for me not getting a half sleeve is regret. What? You think people who get tattoos don't consider this? I think most do, especially with pieces on arms due to their visibility. It's a commitment and a statement for the rest of your life that you have to be willing to make. You have to ask if there is circumstances that would make you regret it. My answer to this is - maybe, but I doubt it. I'm not saying I won't become ambivalent, but regret? That takes some kind of disgust or hatred that I don't think I'll have.

My main concern about getting more tattoos comes from employment. As much as we like to believe we should be judged on our talent and skills, rather than appearance, that is often not the case with jobs. It's an area where way too many people face discrimination even though it is explicitly stated as illegal. Race, religion, pregnancy and sexuality are still a hurdle in employment for many, so when it comes to something like tattoos? There's not a lot of support.

Acceptance of tattoos in the workplace depends very much upon the industry and individual business. Heck, only very recently did Tesco allow its staff to show tattoos and wear there hair as they wished (barring food prep areas) - crazy colours and all. In an industry that customer facing for every type of people out there, doesn't it seem mad that they decided the uniformity of plain skin and natural hair was the best approach?

It's great that Tesco have caught up to the modern world but many areas haven't. Teaching, banking and finance are the main areas that jump to mind that I don't see changing anytime soon. I don't see any reason why people can't have tattoos or multi-coloured hair in these professions as a professional demeanour is not solely based upon the look of someone. But I don't think I'm changing anyone's mind any time soon.

While this is a big worry for me, I have decided that the type of tattoo I am getting and its location won't be an issue for me. I work in the digital industry, marketing specifically, and sometimes it feels like the odder looking you are, the more people trust you. A bit of an odd thing, I know. Perhaps it's the idea of 'creatives' or self expression comes into play. This does tend to be more common in digital businesses, so I have confidence that tattoos won't be a major issue should I seek other employment. My current workplace is also very relaxed about appearance, and as long as you don business attire for client meetings, you're alright. It's refreshing and reassuring that my appearance doesn't impact my having my job, and I wish that was the case for others too. 

Finally, I have mention my tattoos subject matter - it's nautical, there's no religious context and there's no nudity or profanity. I do think that there things need to be taken into consideration with visible tattoos, and I reckon I'm on the safe side. I can also hide it very easily if it does offend, which is a bit of freedom I love about my current tattoos as well.

Despite my deep consideration of my tattoo, I admit I am still scared, but I'm also very happy with decision. I've considered it thoroughly, I love the design, and my date is booked in - hurrah! I'll update and share as it progresses, and if anyone has questions, I'll do my best to answer them - including a pain scale if you want.

Hello, half sleeve!


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