Opinion pieces

Keep Your Opinion Off my Ink

Around Christmas time last year, my Dad got a new tattoo. This shouldn’t have been that big of a deal, because he already had four including a tribal band, his children’s’ initials and a buxom lady on a surfboard (from memory). I’ve never necessarily ‘liked’ any of them, but none have visually wounded me as much as this new addition.

Right there, along half of his left forearm, proudly stands the bright green Monster Energy Drink logo.

I still struggle to understand the brain function that goes into designing, paying for, and sitting through the application of something like this. Ironically, he was drunk while receiving it, not just pinging off too many cans of the sweet green stuff.

I’m no tattoo connoisseur. I’ve got strong opinions on aesthetics, but at the end of the day, I’m a white girl with a bird tattoo on my wrist. I chose to get it, while fully aware of the ‘trend’, because it means something to me. It’s a Beatrix Potter robin with a wingspan covering one of my worst hospital scars, and I’m fully aware nobody will know the story behind it from first glance. I’ve spent the majority of my life touting shit like: “It’s only a bad tattoo if it’s got no meaning. It has to have a story behind it.” But now I’ve fallen victim to that body-modification itch that has had me putting various holes through my ears and face over the last two years. And the same itch wants me to put more ink into my skin. I’m short on cash, so my dream tattoo is still a little way off, but I’ve decided on my impulse tattoo and it’s been selected with 90 per cent looks in mind. It’s fucking pretty. It’s art. I want it on my body.

Because of this personal urge to get inked again, I’ve realised how much of a dick I was being about my Dad’s tattoo. It’s made me acknowledge that I had some misconceptions about outrageous decisions being exclusive to the under 30s crowd, but the more I watch my friends and family grow, the more I know we’re just aged versions of the same people. I hope I’m still doing slightly silly things well into my 80’s.

It’s really hard to shutdown that instinct to judge others for whatever reasons. I’m judged on a daily basis and I work really hard to stop myself from unfairly doing it to other people, which is why it’s insane that I found this aggressive hatred of someone else’s tattoo somehow ‘rational’.

No, I’m not about to rush out and get a bottle of Coles brand mineral water permanently commemorated on my arm, but maybe one day I’ll grow to have intense feelings about a specific brand or product and it might be a logical step to take. My Dad’s choice to get the Monster Energy Drink logo tattooed on his forearm doesn’t actually directly impact me in any way and never will.

The lesson I’ve learnt? My compulsion to be angry about someone else’s action will only serve to turn me into a bitter person. And if I’m not careful, one day I might complete the evolution into an overly conservative dresser who feels faint whenever they see an ‘outrageous’ hairstyle.

Nowadays it seems everyone has a giant investment in every other human, and feels personally victimised by others’ choices. A little bit of ink on another person’s body is none of your business (unless it’s your name), and ‘bad’ tattoos will always be a fact of life. Take it as inspiration and a goal to beat in your own body canvassing endeavors, or just ignore it and the people who judge you and go ahead and get your own non-offensive bird tattoo.

There’s one final sad fact of this story: so far my Dad hasn’t managed to get a single can of free Monster for his dedication. I am, however, buying him a slab of Red Bull for his birthday.

Jasmin Ashton

Originally published at hijacked.com.au.

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