Weekender

Rants and Raves: An introduction and a lesson in personal space

Hi, my name is Hartt and I’m one of the Weekender’s new columnists.

Let me start by saying I’m not an angry person. I’m also not an over-sharer. I don’t complain about my life via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram Story.

For the most part I’m quiet, but I’m open-minded. I know that everyone is going through something and because of that they’ll see and deal with things differently than I would.

With that being said, there are some things that frustrate and confuse me about society in general and things that give me hope that we aren’t doomed.

When we sat down to talk about what kind of content we wanted to add to the Weekender, I got excited about the idea of a “rants and raves” column.

Writing something that has the potential to start a conversation is big, and I’m over the moon about sharing some of my thoughts with you.

When we were discussing the idea of my column, my executive editor asked me what I’d want to write about.

Almost immediately, I responded with, “I want to write about how strangers walk up to me and touch my tattoos.”

I’ve had this conversation with other tattooed people. It’s very real and almost comical, but something I deal with (especially now that it’s summer) almost daily.

I am not heavily tattooed. My arms are about 65% covered, and I have a few others on my body. If my arms are exposed and I’m in public, someone usually says something to me.

Many times, they are polite. They will give me a compliment or ask me where I got my work done. It’s a quick exchange and I’m cool with that — compliments are cute, and I’m getting my tattoo-artist friends more business.

However, there is, has been and probably always will be someone who will walk up to me without warning and grab my arms and touch my tattoos.

This is not a #metoo movement topic. While I’m sure it can be, I’m not taking that road. We can save that discussion for another day.

This is purely based on my experience with strangers grabbing me in public, whether I’m in line at the grocery store or at a bar with friends. It’s weird, and if you’ve done it, I’m here to call you out.

Let me dive into my rant with a list:

1. I have no idea who you are. Why are you touching me?

I am shy and usually uncomfortable. I take a long time to open up to people and the fact that someone I don’t know is putting his or her hands on me is strange. Why are you doing that? Stop it.

2. I am not a walking, talking, breathing art gallery. Especially not a ‘look and feel’ exhibit.

There was an occasion where a man walked up to me and rubbed my arm as if he was trying to see if my tattoos were real. After asking him, politely, not to touch me, he responded with, “If you didn’t want me to touch you, you shouldn’t have gotten them in the first place.” I hope this is making you cringe.

3. Just because I am showing my bare arms does not mean I want to talk about my tattoos.

Every tattoo I have does not have a cryptic meaning or message about my or my family’s past. They all mean something to me, obviously; they are on my body until I die. But again, you are a stranger — why do you want to know?

4. “Did this hurt?” You ask as you grab my arm and hold it up for a closer look.

Yes, it hurt. Some hurt more than others. Others don’t hurt at all. You do not need to touch me to ask that question. Nothing hurts more than the mental agony you are causing me by putting your hands on my body.

I can’t speak for anyone except myself, so I don’t know if this bothers you as much as it bothers me.

So, on that note, if you are a handsy person and you simply can’t resist touching my tattoos, my advice to you would be to ask first. And when I say that I don’t want you to touch me, don’t be a jerk about it (this has happened too). If I want you to touch me, I’ll let you know. Otherwise, kindly back off.

Am I being dramatic? Or logical? Please let me know by commenting on our Facebook posts.

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By Hartt Lang