I am smart. I am accepting. I am cool.
But, for the life of me, I haven’t been able to “wrap my head” around folks who have an insatiable fetish for “ink.”
In my day, when we saw someone with tattoos, we instantly associated the person with having an unsavory character. They were stereotyped as being a criminal, a loser, a drug addict, a drifter, a misfit, or a thug with no redeeming value. Good “church” girls were forewarned against bringing these deadbeats to meet our parents, our neighbors, our friends.
Psychologically, perhaps I am still experiencing some post traumatic symptoms resulting from the constant childhood taunts, endless teasing, quizzical stares, and penetrating glares that I received from having a skin disease. Primarily housed on my legs, I likened this skin disorder to being afflicted and cursed with leprosy. Daily, these sores would erupt like an angry volcano sending nasty pus and blood down my legs like cascading lava.
The next stage was the worst. These sores, after hardening, would become crusted flakes attaching themselves to my socks or stockings like blood-sucking leeches. Taking either my socks or stockings off was an acrobatic disaster and a self-esteem buster. Gingerly pulling them off without disturbing the crust, the pus, the blood, or the sores was next to impossible!
The final stage resembled an initiation into a tribe. My legs yielded permanent scars while my psyche cloaked inconsolable pain. The ugly marks zigzagged across my legs as if they were black checkers on a board game. I harbored insecurities about my legs until I was beyond 30. Needless to say, I was too self-conscious to wear a bathing suit, shorts, or even go bared-legged in the summer months. In addition, I was equally embarrassed to undress in front of my husband. Darkness became my sanctuary.
Which brings me back to folks with an ink addiction.
If my “tattooed legs” evoked such unfavorable reactions from ordinary people, just imagine from an employment perspective, the negative responses your visible tattoos will have upon the hiring authority. Yes, knowledge, skills, abilities, education, prior experience, and qualifications are relative factors in considering your “fitness” for hire, but so is judgment, or the lack thereof!
Before you get “inked,” I need you to remember that more and more companies are becoming extremely sensitive about hiring employees who have defaced their bodies with visible tattoos for fear of offending or turning off the paying customer. So, why sabotage your chances for gainful employment? A proliferation of tattoos in the sports and the entertainment industry does not mean total acceptance within others.
If you need more proof about the devastating effects of tattoos, how about visiting a Holocaust museum and listen to the gut wrenching stories detailing how millions of Jews were systemically tattooed as prisoners by the Nazi regime prior to being slaughtered!
Then end your tour at an African-American museum and absorb more horrific and paralyzing accounts on how our enslaved ancestors were brutally branded with identification marks signifying them as the property of their slave masters or as former runaways!
Which brings me back to folks with an ink addiction——what’s wrong with you?