I have one visible tattoo, a “Fleur de Lis” on my forearm. My preference for long sleeves means it is not often visible. However, I am occasionally questioned about it by strangers and classmates when I am out in a t-shirt. It tends to spark interest from football fans or people with French ancestry.
The ink has been on my skin for three years at this point. Just like you may not always be thinking about a scar or a birthmark, my tattoo is not always on my mind. Sometimes, I forget it is there.
When a professor asked me, “What’s that?” and pointed to my arm, it took me a second to realize he was talking about my Fleur de Lis. Before I had the chance to react, he grabbed my arm to take a closer look at it.
I am willing to talk about my tattoo, and if asked nicely, I am just as willing to hold my arm out so you can take a closer look. However, my tattoo is not an invitation to touch me, much less grab me.
Generally, I like being at school. I feel more comfortable at Montgomery College than I do just walking down the street, or on the bus. However, incidents like these threaten my sense of autonomy and safety, even when coming from well-meaning people who I know would hate to make me feel that way.
I am not the only person who feels this way. much more visibly tattooed people than me experience this constantly. And while I am glad that I can turn it off with a long enough shirt, I should be able to wear what I want.
If you want to know more about my tattoo, talk to me, but please respect my space.