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I love my tattoos, but I don’t want to talk to you about them

HelloFlo is a womens health company committed to normalizing the conversations we have about womens bodies so that we can all live healthier lives.

Not everyone with tattoos wants to discuss them with strangers

Most of my tattoos are hidden, medium-size and small, sitting behind the curve of my ear or covering my stomach, resting above my belly button and scaling my sternum.

The most obvious ones are on my fingers, which are sprinkled with three dots on each finger, even the thumb. These are the most likely targeted by someone’s field of vision.

“Are those tattoos or henna?” a question that introduces my immediate sigh and exhaustive response of, “…they don’t mean anything.” Even if they were dedicated to each family member, or every morning star, my reasons are not for strangers. Furthermore, they are certainly not something I feel the need to disclose.

According to Pew Research Center, 36 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 have at least one tattoo. 54 percent of Gen Nexters have altered their appearance in some way (e.g., hair dye, piercing).

Many people may think, “If you get something so public, so permanent, so interesting, why not want to discuss it?” In short, it’s assumed I should be flattered that someone is asking about my tattoos, something that I chose to embellish my skin with for my personal enjoyment.

Yet, the reality is that my body is not your specimen. My tattoos are meant to empower me and my body positivity; they are memories and stories and most important, they are mine.

My reasons for my permanent branding are not necessary to building a friendship or small talk. And as someone who is as open and public as me — I write about my vagina for a living for God’s sake — I still feel vulnerable and exposed when someone asks about the meaning of my tattoos.

This is not to say that these insecurities stem from my regrets about the pieces that I have, but rather, the reactions from others. Their crude comments and misunderstanding of how something can be symbolic enough for permanence are definitely something that I have had to accept as a response.

Over time I’ve learned that I'd rather keep the meaning of my tattoos to myself.

Silent admiration is always welcomed, but chattering for the sake of your curiosity should be vetoed. Thanks for being interested, but my body, and the choices that accompany it, should be of no interest to you.

By S. Nicole Lane

Originally published on HelloFlo

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