Inked dopers - Is people touching your body or clothing to get a look at your tats really a thing?

This article claims that people (primarily women it seems) don’t’ respect personal space boundaries when inquiring about your tattoos, and will actually move your clothing without asking to get a better look. Is this really a thing or is this Slate poster being a drama king?

My husband is a former sailor and bears several alcohol-inspired (and subsequently regretted) tattoos, and I can verify that this is indeed fairly common. Women will occasionally lift up the sleeve of his T-shirt to look at the tattoos on his biceps. He considers it a serious breach of etiquette.

Yes. The bottom of my Sea Dragon peeks out from under short sleeves and my scrub top. I’ve had co-workers and clients and strangers on the street hook a finger under the sleeve to pull it up and peek. The Escher on my back is only visible with certain shirts and I’ve had people move my hair or the bottom of the shirt’s “keyhole” to get a better look.

Yes, almost always women.
I have had my head grabbed and turned / hair pulled to see the one behind my ear. I have had the back of my shirts / sweaters yanked to see the one just under the nape of my neck (it tends to peek out the top of my shirt).
Men will ask if they can look at my tattoos, women just grab.

Why are you complaining? I never get my flesh grabbed by women. :frowning:


Off to get some tattoos.

Yep, women do it all the time. I don’t really mind, but it is weird. If I walked up to a woman and pulled her neckline forward “to get a better look” I don’t think it would go over really well. Usually.

I have never seen or had this happen. Most of my tattoos are small, and they’re either completely hidden or totally visible, depending on what I’m wearing. My best friend is a canvas of color and some amazing art, and while people constantly comment and ask her about her tattoos, to my knowledge nobody has ever actually laid hands on her to get a better look without some prior acquaintance.

I never knew this was a thing. Seems like common sense not to paw at people. Huh.

But, you might be surprised by what happens when you ask nicely.

My ink is only visible when I’m shirtless. I have only had it a few months, but I have had ladies come up behind me and run their hands across it.

It’s so weird how touchy people are. People (always women) touch pregnant bellies all the time…it never even occured to me that was a thing to touch. And now people (always women) touch tattoos and remove clothing to look at them better?

No one has ever tried to touch my tattoo, but I’m a woman, and I guess this is mainly women doing it to men. I admit I’ve wanted to on occasion see exactly where the ink led on a well-muscled guy, but that has less to do with the tattoo than…other things.


In my mind (and I do have a tattoo), I don’t see this as a problem. True, there seems to be a double-standard where women touching men without permission is far more acceptable than the opposite, but for some reason, as a single guy, I don’t have a problem with the ladies looking at my tattoo and inquiring. I wonder why. :wink:

I’m a woman with four tattoos, all on my upper back, shoulder blades, and upper rib cage. Due to the fact that one of the tats is on my upper back / spine below my neck, and peeks out of low-collared shirts, I’ve been subjected multiple times to the “horse collar” grab. I’m walking by and someone grabs the back of my collar, yanking me to a stop, and says, “Oooh, let me look at your tattoos!” Beyond the shock / safety issue, I hate to be touched by strangers, and this is just rude in any case. For the record, I’ve never had a guy do this - always women.

I am both bald and have tattoos.

Both of these things seems to make women think they have a free pass to touch me. The tatts I don’t mind so much. The bald head thing does though. Because if my head isn’t as smooth as glass, they see no problem in telling me “I need to shave.”
Well, bitch, I never asked you to rub my head!
Admittedly, this issue is getting less frequent as middle age sets in.

This. I’m a woman, and if the sleeves on my shirt are short enough the very bottom of my wolf tattoo peeks out: I’ve had numerous people simply reach over and lift my sleeve up while making some comment about the tat. And – unsurprisingly at this point – it’s almost always women. Most men know better than to touch a woman without permission, but women seem to think that they can touch whoever they want whenever they want.

I’ve been thinking about this since I answered, trying to figure out if I’m guilty of doing it to others. To the best of my knowledge, I may have gone so far to ask while I was reaching, but I don’t think I’ve ever moved somebody’s clothes to look at a tattoo without receiving an affirmative answer.

So I still feel pretty clean on this subject. :slight_smile:

I certainly don’t like being touched by a stranger without asking, but I’m nearly certain those women were flirting.

Maybe it’s because we live in Iowa, but my husband and I have not experienced this. He gets comments all the time on his but there is always a polite distance maintained. Nobody has ever touched ours uninvited and we have never touched anyone elses. It would be weird.

Yes, it happens all the time, according to my friends with more extreme body mods, and also people I know who have a lot of cool-looking hair (super-long, dreads, or in a voluminous afro). But I’ve never heard that it’s ‘mostly women’. Many a creepy guy has felt entitled to reach out and touch my friend Jen’s scarification on her chest and arms. oO

While I have admired, without touching, many a tatto on a muscular man, I am guilty of only once lifting a shirt sleeve to view one. It was on the charming young man who does my pedicures. I was in the salon the day he got the tattoo, so I first saw it and commented on its beauty when he was wearing a sleeveless shirt. A few months later, I was getting a pedicure and noticed that the tattoo looked like more color had been added. Without thinking, I reached over and lifted his shirt sleeve, while asking, " Tom, did you get more color?" He looked just a tiny bit surprised but smiled and said “yes.” I belated realized that I had overstepped the bounds, but it’s a curious relationship. This man has had his hands on my feet and lower legs many times in a somewhat intimate way, but somehow it still wasn’t right that I touched his clothing without asking permission first.

I cannot imagine stroking a bald man’s head (unless he was a good friend or lover). That is just plain rude. And I wouldn’t touch another woman without permission either.

I’ve had people pull the neckline of my shirts to see the gecko on my shoulder and the starburst on the back of my neck. It’s annoying as hell.

Plenty of tattoos. Nearly full sleeves. A bit faded after 30 years. This has never happened to me.

There’s one exception – very small children. They think it’s some kind of drawing (well, I guess it is), and want to see if they can smear it, or if it feels different from my un-tattooed skin.